sábado, abril 29, 2006

Jane Jacobs, Citizenship

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Click to Enlarge / Click para AumentarI heard earlier in the week that Jane Jacobs had died; but today, sitting up on Signal Hill with three Tim's and a Weekend Globe, I read this little piece by Catherine Gildiner and suddenly found myself in tears.

Globe: My quiet moment with citizen Jane.

The operative phrase was, "... she never asked if I needed help."

Yes, I mourn Jane's passing - I read her book 'The Death and Life of Great American Cities'. I remember thinking that it was lucky for her she had time in her life for such a continuous struggle with mediocrity - I was envious, I was full of admiration. She entered my 'architectural canon' such as it is. The world suddenly seemed a lonlier place without her in it.

OK, I was crying for myself as well, a little self-pity at some recent reversals. Who doesn't wish that a passing stranger will simply 'see'?

Back in about 1984 sometime I was drinking a fair bit - those halcyon days before gout, when I thought I might just be allowed to become an alcoholic like my father. After work I used to go from one low-end Ottawa pub to another, buying a different paper as I bumbled from one to the next until I reached the point of not being able to even pretend to read, when I would patiently wait for a bus to take me home. If I had any loonies in my pocket, usually did, I would find places to hide them as I waited; window ledges, hydrant flanges.

Just-about-staggering along one afternoon I happened to see a young woman with her toddler crossing Bank Street. She had one arm full with two squashed bags of groceries and with the other she picked the lad up by his arm to get across quickly. I carried her groceries home for her, explaining about dislocated shoulders and what not. She thanked me. That was it.

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