Brave New City | Sharing Resources

If a neighborhood is to become truly inclusive, then its community center is best decentralized.

What Jane Jacobs said about a city sidewalk—that it is by itself an abstraction, and that it means something “only in conjunction with the buildings and other uses that border it”—could also be said about community centers. A nicely designed, amenity-rich community center would be an empty gesture if it was built in an exclusive enclave accessible only to the wealthy.

A truly inclusive community center is only conceivable in an all-access community: one that first of all does not discriminate in the sale, rental, and marketing of homes, in mortgage lending, and in zoning, but that also affirmatively furthers fair housing and creates a welcoming environment for all, regardless of income, race, religion, or physical ability.

In this drawing we present an incomplete (and somewhat eclectic) collection of tools to help build such an all-access community, ranging from practical physical features like raised crosswalks and curb cuts; larger, more policy-based tools like inclusionary zoning, housing vouchers, and racial quotas; and more irreverent ideas like garage sales, festivals, and Halloween celebrations.

One more note: if you can’t locate the community center, it’s because it doesn’t exist. Working from Jane Jacobs’s idea that programs are typically better distributed around a neighborhood than aggregated in a complex, we distributed the usual functions of a community center (rec room, meeting space, walk-in clinic, etc.) around the scene, so that they are a part of the existing fabric.

See the other Brave New City articles here.

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