Jane at 100

Jane Jacobs’ 100th birthday seems an appropriate time for a reminder that the answers to many of our greatest questions may not be on the most obvious scale.

So, if you’re terrified by the rise of a certain political figure–or even if you understand many of the sentiments that have lifted him up, but fear the vehicle could damage any notion of democratic stability–this is a chance to take a deep breath and focus on the things close to home.

Much as I appreciate his Plato references, I’m not quite as convinced as Andrew Sullivan that Donald Trump dooms American democracy. The deep state won’t go lightly, and Congress is intractable enough to blunt most authoritarian impulses. Trump, I think, is still more Berlusconi than Mussolini. But it’s good to be ready for any possibility, and to spare oneself excessive angst on things one cannot control.

Jane has never been so relevant. If nothing else, it’s some vindication for a kid who wraps up his urban planning degree in the next two weeks. Sometimes the solutions to national problems are not national at all, but right next door.

Keep your eyes on the street.


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