Photo credit: Rota Estrada Rio Branco

Free Summer Read: Get Urban Acupuncture

Have you heard? This year's Free Summer Read is Urban Acupuncture by Jaimer Lerner. Get excited about the book by reading what people had to say about it below and sign up here to get this "joyful, uplifting book" delivered to the e-reader of your choice. Hurry, offer ends Tuesday, July 5! Can't get enough Jaime Lerner? Get inspired by the work and vision of Jaime Lerner in our free webinar happening tomorrow, June 29 at 3:30 pm ET. Register here

As Island Press kicks off its Free Summer Read promotion with Jaime Lerner’s Urban Acupuncture, I’m reminded of how many IP partners and authors are either utilizing, or advocating for, an initiative that Lerner helped to introduce. To name them all would require a much longer blurb; however, a couple of notable examples come to mind. 

In April, Island Press released Transit Street Design Guide, a blueprint for better transit streets, by The National Association of City Transportation Officials (NACTO). In addition to its innovative look at designing roadways to support reliable transit systems, TSDG highlights a series of bus rapid transit strategies (BRT), a model pioneered by Lerner in Curitiba, Brazil, home to the first BRT system “Speedy Bus”. Not only did Speedy Bus introduce a more efficient and sustainable way for Curitiba’s citizens to move about the city, it inspired other cities to develop public-private funding models for getting both large- and small-scale urban projects off the ground. 

Like NACTO, Gabe Klein’s Start-Up City reflects Lerner’s spirit of collaboration and people-oriented urbanism. By working with public and private stakeholders during his time as DOT head in Chicago and DC, Klein was able to fund and implement projects at a much faster pace, introducing active transportation services like Capital Bikeshare and Divvy, and urban amenities like the Chicago Riverwalk, the Bloomingdale Trail, and 100 miles of advanced bike lanes in Chicago.  
-Matt Solomon, Partnership Manager, Island Press

Summer reading should transport you to new places and possibilities; it should be a call to step outside the hectic pace of everyday life, to take a breath, consider, and dream. Urban Acupuncture invites readers to take a trip around the world in one slim volume, to experience the best of city life through the eyes of visionary architect and urbanist Jaime Lerner. Wander the ramblas of Barcelona, lean against a bustling bar counter in Rio, or relish a moment of quiet in Istanbul to discover how a single person, street, park, or shop can enrich an entire community. These are the small but vibrant elements that make each city feel like home.

The best summer reading lingers in your mind after you’ve turned the last page, changing the way you see your surroundings. After traveling with Jaime Lerner, you won’t look at your own streets and parks the same way again; as he writes, “You’re able to capture the special moments in the life of a city and realize that each city can be better than it is.”
-Rebecca Bright, Associate Editor & Rights Manager, Island Press

Jaime Lerner. 

We have opportunities to make our own positive impact on the health and vitality of our urban environment through small, yet meaningful, interventions. At the Center for the Living City, we work to provide access to tools for observation and active engagement in our cities, from publishing books such as What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs and Urban Acupuncture, to engaging with our communities through Jane Jacobs Walks and other events. This year marks Jane Jacobs’ 100th birthday, where we are celebrating the power of observation and action in our cities throughout the world. During this centennial year, we invite you to join the celebration at janes100th.org. We will also lead a series of online book readings in the coming months at the City Builder Book Club, beginning with Urban Acupuncture and Genius of Common Sense

Building upon Lerner’s Urban Acupuncture, the Urban Acupuncture Network (UAN) serves as a Pinterest-like collection of global urban interventions. Jaime Lerner describes urban acupuncture as focal, quick, and precise interventions that help to enhance the health of all urban systems. Urban acupuncture mimics traditional acupuncture theory, pinpointing areas of stress that need to be alleviated or repaired within a community. It begins with fundamental ideas of what makes cities thrive: familiar sounds, smells, gathering places, people, key infrastructure, adequate land use, and mass transportation. What pinpricks of change can you share? The Network will build from the examples of interventions that you share with us.
-Chelsea Gauthier, Associate Director, Center for the Living City

Urban Acupuncture is an ideal summer read, as it celebrates the beauty of life in urban public spaces, which  are bubbling with activity in the summer months. Lerner has observed urban life around the world, and helped to improve it directly through his actions as three-time mayor of Curitiba, Brazil. In this lively book he tells stories about the most important consideration when trying to activate public space: people. It is the people who create dynamic and inviting urban public space. These spaces serve, or should serve, to bring together people from all walks for life. Lerner says, “the more cities are understood to be the integration of functions — bringing together rich and poor, the elderly and the young — the more meeting places they will create and the livelier they will become.” While there are numerous books that celebrate cities, many of them capture a moment in time. Urban Acupuncture is timeless because Lerner’s story show the endless possibilities of activating public space through the different activities brought to the spaces by an ever-changing cast.  
-Heather Boyer, Vice President and Executive Editor, Island Press