Save Big On Open-Box & Used Products: Buy "Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense ...” from Amazon Open-Box & Used and save 64% off the $17.95 list price. Product is eligible for Amazon's 30-day returns policy and Prime or FREE Shipping. See all offers from Amazon Open-Box & Used.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Common Ground in a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future Paperback – March 1, 2010
|New from||Used from|
Featured business titles
Sponsored by McGraw-Hill Learn more.
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
Special offers and product promotions
About the Author
Browse award-winning titles. See more
If you are a seller for this product, would you like to suggest updates through seller support?
Top Customer Reviews
In the course of such fine writing, there will be some minor errors and some logical inconsistencies - they really do not detract from such a worthwhile sociology. For me, the footnotes was an especially lively section, but in one aside, the ravings of Kabbalah Madonna come in for some scorn, while the author himself posits in another scetion, talking about the state of the world, that "God himself" may not even be able to "sort this all out." One God-believer calling another God-believer a wacko - strange stuff.
Written with the same kind of candor, Common Ground for a Liquid City: Essays in Defense of an Urban Future by Matt Hern is truly a thought-provoking and stimulating book. As I read through the pages it was a unique blend of writing about urban issues from an academic angle (Matt has a PhD in urban studies) mixed in with a gritty East Vancouver snarkiness. Matt, who lives in East Vancouver, writes with the colour and bluntness of an Anne Lamott. When I first picked up the book it was hard to put it down. Although the occasional F-bomb and rants would keep this off the shelves and required reading list in some academic circles, I was thoroughly challenged not only to look at urban issues with a fresh sets of lenses but more importantly the city of Vancouver.
Throughout the book Matt takes the reader on a journey as he travels the world talking about the various cities he's encountered. He then brings the issues back home and holds them up as various lenses in which to view cities in general and Vancouver in particular. I have learned to see beyond the gorgeous facade of Vancouver's urbanism to see some of the blindspots that city officials, builders, and developers have missed in over-planning. Matt does a remarkable job of raising questions, "The real question I want to ask here sits near the intersection where aesthetic and political arguments meet: How can Vancouver develop some funk, some flavor? How can we densify without being sterile and choreographed?" (67)
Matt is in search of what makes a city livable. He does so in a refreshing way. I've read numerous books on the topic of sustainable cities, livable cities, urban planning, and the like but Common Ground in a Liquid City stands out because Matt continuously steps away from pure academic speculation and asks the tough questions from a practitioner's perspective. He lives in the city, is involved in making Vancouver livable, and behind numerous initiatives whether educational or things like car-free days. Urban renewal is advocated on many fronts and I believe he raises important issues for consideration. For those who love the city and desire to see it sustainable (especially Vancouverites) I'd highly recommend this fun and thought-provoking book. Kudos.
In one sense, it is a travelogue. Hern recounts his visits to cities around the globe and looks at what lessons they might have for cities in general and Vancouver in particular, which is where he lives and a place that has become a model for many progressive urban planners. He takes us to Thessaloniki (Greece), where he marvels at that city's connectedness to its ancient history and speculates about what that could mean in Canada, with its colonialist heritage. He brings us into New York City's complicated debates on crime and violence (read: Giuliani), and pushes us to imagine what an approach to safety framed by a commitment to justice and equality might look like. We accompany him to Fort Good Hope, an overwhelmingly native city in Canada's Northwest Territories, which sets the stage for reflections on how fidelity to tradition and the land could inform our lives in our hyper-globalized world. There are also chapters on Portland, Istanbul, Las Vegas, Montreal, Diyarbakir (Kurdistan), and Kaunakakai, Moloka'i (Hawaii).
But this book is also a deeply informed confrontation with our urban future. He draws upon his visits, interviews with activists and planners, and reading of urban studies' literature to press us to conceive of urbanity in radically utopian terms. He argues not only that our future will be urban, but also that such a future could be a wonderful thing if we build our cities around democracy, decentralization, diversity, and ecologically sanity. Though a fun read, his book has a place in the serious tradition of anarchist urban speculation pioneered by people like Peter Kropotkin, Paul Goodman, and Murray Bookchin.
I recommend this to anyone who cares about cities, whether you live in one or study them. You won't regret picking this up.