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Seeing the Better City
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In order to understand and improve cities today, personal observation remains as important as ever. While big data, digital mapping, and simulated cityscapes are valuable tools for understanding urban space, "using them without on-the-ground, human impressions risks creating places that do not reflect authentic local context. Seeing the Better City brings our attention back to the real world right in front of us, focusing it once more on the sights, sounds, and experiences of place in order to craft policies, plans, and regulations to shape better urban environments. Through clear prose and vibrant photographs, Charles Wolfe shows those who experience cities how they might catalogue the influences of Urban form, neighbourhood dynamics, public transportation, and myriad other basic city elements that impact their daily lives. He then shares insights into how they can use those observations to Contribute to better planning" and design indecisions. "Wolfe calls this the' "urban diary" approach, and highlights how the perspective of the observer is key to understanding the dynamics of urban space.He concludes by offering contemporary examples and guidance on how to use carefully recorded and organised observations as a tool to create change in urban planning conversations and practice. From city-dwellers to elected officials involved 'in local planning and design issues, this book is an invaluable tool for constructive, creative discourse about improving urban space.
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About the Author

Charles R. Wolfe provides a unique perspective about cities as both a long time writer about urbanism world Wide and as an attorney in Seattle, where he focuses on land use and environmental law. He is also an Affiliate Associate Professor in the College of Built Environments at the University of Washington, where he teaches land-use law at the graduate level. Wolfe contributes regularly on urban development topics for several publications including CityLab, The Atlantic, The Huffington Post, Grist.org, seattlepi.com, and Crosscut.com. He blogs at myurbanist.com.

Reviews

"We experience cities through what we see. Not since the legendary Kevin Lynch has an author opened our eyes to the power of observing urban space. This book masterfully illustrates how to understand and capture moments in time, see present-day patterns and layers of history, and gain visual insights into the urban space that shapes our daily lives. Chuck's images and words will truly inspire you."--Mitchell Silver, NYC Parks Commissioner and former president of the American Planning Association "We need to be incessant students of place. In Seeing the Better City, Chuck gives us this mandate as well as the tools to succeed in the endeavor. This book is a valuable contribution to the place conversation by championing 'place ethnography' for the betterment of cities and their people."--Dr. Katherine Loflin, The City Doctor "With Seeing the Better City, Chuck Wolfe accomplishes what few have tried--to actually bridge multiple disciplines in order to help people effectively see, understand, and improve urban spaces. He provides us with an invaluable, accessible roadmap for a place-led future."--Ethan Kent, Senior Vice President, Project for Public Spaces, NYC "If we want to create the places of our dreams, we need to observe our cities more clearly. Seeing the Better City is both a thoughtful guide and an enticement to take up this challenge."--Charles Montgomery, Author of "Happy City"

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