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Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future
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Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  60 ratings  ·  10 reviews
If we want to preserve what's still left of the natural world, we need to stop using so much of it. And, says veteran environmental activist Matt Hern, cities are the best chance we have left for a truly ecological future . . . but what does it take to make a truly sustainable city?

Common Ground in a Liquid City is a fun and engaging look at the future of urban life. Hern
Paperback, 240 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by AK Press (first published 2010)
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This is a really thought-provoking, well-studied book. In many ways it uses Jane Jacobs's classic urban planning study (The Death and Life of Great American Cities) as a jumping off point. It takes Jacobs's core insights into the values of urban diversity, community, and public space and re-considers them in the context of explosive urban growth. Issues like digital technology, globalization, and sustainability are clearly much bigger than they used to be, and Hern brings his own loud voice to t ...more
Elevate Difference
First off, let me say I am not a big fan of urban planning. Even the kindly Jane Jacobs got it wrong with her advocacy of new building along side streets—infill. The condo craze that damages communities from Brooklyn, where I live, to Vancouver, the focus of Common Ground in a Liquid City, can proceed very well along side streets to gentrification and displacement. Author Matt Hern put all my defenses on alert by his proposition early on that continuing urbanization is a given and that greater u ...more
I was really into the idea of this book, and was converted to the idea of urban density as an ecologically-sound model several years ago. Hern's book is an "investigation into how Vancouver -- and cities in general -- can imagine themselves beyond greed, shopping, capital accumulation, and vulgar self-interest. This city has every opportunity to re-imagine itself as an ethical, ecological place that nurtures a generous and vibrant citizenry that can afford to live here."

Which is great in theory,
Matt Hern lives in Vancouver, Canada. Vancouver has major endorsements like Expo 86, the Commonwealth games and as recently as 2010 the Winter Olympics and Paralympics under its belt, but on top of that with Melbourne, a business review recently granted the city has being a top example of a ‘livable city’. The darkside however is Vancouver has the lowest minimum wage, the highest rate of child poverty, chronic homelessness, the highest rents and housing costs in Canada (pg 207) and like every ot ...more
i am afraid of people, yet i need to cooperate with and figure out how to manipulate them. i can't head to the country to win. i have to defeat myself.
there's no future except the metropolis and the spoiled countryside that is still expected to feed the city's denizens.
what to do?
Matt Hern traces some well-worn urbanist arguments, shot through his home of Vancouver, and written in the style of a zinester (with all the good and bad about personal experience and lifestyle politics that come with the territory). Though Hern has some serious theoretical chops, his impressionistic writing on place is ultimately more compelling than his contributions to advancing thinking about cities.
Here's a rare sight: a thoughtful inner-city leftist who understands both New Urbanism and capitalism (and apportions the blame correctly), Vancouver and the world, direct action and policy prescriptions. A useful tool for focusing my own thoughts on density and diversity.
quick with pointers about what living in a city can, should and shouldn't be about.
Forward thinking book and well worth a read. Hern looks at urban issues from city branding to urban agriculture to car traffic. It's focused on Vancouver, but really he could be talking about anywhere.
Adam Piontek
I really need to review this; it reached a great crescendo and, as a book on urban *values* rather than urban *plans* (and also on many-small-plans as a value), it really got me thinking.
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