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Jane Says: A Reading for the People of Downtown Toronto

If the downtown of tomorrow looks like most of the redevelopment projects being planned for it today, it will end up a monumental bore. But downtown could be made lively and exciting – and it’s not too hard to find out how. – Jane Jacobs

While housing costs in Toronto continue to rise, the people of the city have been pushing back. Right now, residents in Parkdale are in the second month of a strike against unlawful rent hikes and unliveable conditions. Kensington Market residents led protests against short-term rental companies, like Airbnb, that have been pushing out long-term renters. And reactions to a certain magazine piece about a “crack house” reno have gone viral.

But these fights are nothing new. Didn’t Jane Jacobs teach those running this city anything? Toronto was the adopted home of the prolific urban studies journalist and activist, who prevented city-killing developments like the Spadina Expressway. Jacobs may have been writing about a different era, but her basic philosophy is as relevant today as ever: cities are for everybody (not just the rich), and downtown is for the people. We think it’s time for a Jacobs revisit.

Flying Books will be at the Cadillac Lounge on June 27th for a sprint reading of Jane Jacobs’s seminal 1958 essay, “Downtown Is for People.” All proceeds will go to ACORN Canada.

NAVNEET ALANG writes about modern technoculture for Hazlitt, the Globe & Mail, The New Republic, and The Atlantic.

LYNN CROSBIE is a Parkdale Lifer, given to yelling at the new Metro, “There goes the neighbourhood!” Her new book of poems is called The Corpses of the Future.

ANNA FITZPATRICK is a writer living in Kensington Market.

BARBARA GOWDY is a three-time finalist for the Governor General’s Award and the author of The White Bone, Helpless, The Romantic, Little Sister, and others.

SARAH HAGI is a staff writer for Vice, and is really, really good at Twitter.

ETERNITY MARTIS is an award-winning journalist and editor whose work has been featured in The Walrus, the Fader, Complex, Canadaland, Hazlitt, and elsewhere.

ALIYA PABANI is the host of The Imposter, an arts and culture podcast from Canadaland.

MARTHA SHARPE is an editor and the owner of Flying Books.

ASTRA TAYLOR is the director of documentaries (Zizek! and Examined Life), writer (The People’s Platform), and a founder of Rolling Jubilee, a campaign that buys and abolishes debt.

MIRIAM TOEWS is the Governor General’s Award-winning, two-time Giller Prize-nominated author of A Complicated Kindness and All My Puny Sorrows.

VIDAL WU is the Editorial Resident at Canadian Art and has written for TIFF, Vice and Vocativ.