Author Archives: Luis Aguasviva

Discussing the Legacy of Jane Jacobs

Citizen Jane: Battle for the City directed by Matt Tyrnauer was release in the spring of 2017. The film details the life and work of the author and activist Jane Jacobs. After seeing Citizen Jane at IFC this summer, Gallatin Students and Urban Democracy Lab Student Advisory Board members Arielle Hersh and Luis Aguasviva sat down to discuss the film and the contradictory legacies of Jane Jacobs and Robert Moses. The film can currently be watched on Amazon Video or iTunes.

Mrs. Jane Jacobs, chairman of the Comm. to save the West Village holds up documentary evidence at press conference at Lions Head Restaurant at Hudson & Charles Sts. Credit: Library of Congress
Mrs. Jane Jacobs holds up documentary evidence at press conference at Lions Head Restaurant at Hudson & Charles Sts. Credit: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division

Luis Aguasviva (LA): Let’s begin by addressing the narrative presented in Citizen Jane Jane: The Battle for the City of Jane Jacobs (the hero) vs. Robert Moses (the villain).

Arielle Hersh (AH): Yeah, it’s very prevalent.

LA: It was framed as a David vs. Goliath story. The film directly attributes Robert Moses’s “demise” to Jacobs’s organizing efforts that stop Moses’s building projects in Washington Square Park and the West Village.

AH: I definitely agree that it oversimplifies what’s going on and breaks it down into that dichotomy, but at the same time I felt like it was a really good lens for someone coming to this story for the first time. It’s kind of the way I was introduced to urban planning – I remember hearing the story and seeing it set up as “Moses bad, Jacobs good, they go to battle, Jacobs wins, now we have planning.” We know that that’s not really what happened, but if you’re framing it for someone who isn’t really familiar with the story or with Jacobs, then it seemed like a good primer.

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Michael Hardt speaks on Assembly

Discussing Assembly with Michael Hardt

How can social movements succeed without centralized leadership? Michael Hardt tackles this question in his recent book Assembly, co-authored with Italian intellectual Antonio Negri. The Urban Democracy Lab co-sponsored a discussion of Assembly with Hardt on September 25, 2017. Hardt, best known for his trilogy of influential books co-written with Negri—Empire, Multitude, and Commonwealth—is a key thinker in political left.

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