Book Review: For the Love of Cities: A Love Affair between People and their Places
Review by: Davon Barbour
For the Love of Cities: A Love Affair between People and their Places explores the emotional bond that exists between people and their built environment. Author Peter Kageyama advocates that cities that generate a greater emotional connection with their residents benefit socially and economically. Downtown practitioners understand the value and importance of placemaking. It is for this reason that we continually invest in, special events, arts & cultural programming, and other aesthetic elements to create memorable experiences for the people who reside, work, or visit our cities. As Peter concisely communicates, cities are more than landscape of physical structures, they living organisms that constantly need nurturing and love.
According to Kageyama, “it’s time to align our aspirations and vision with our rhetoric and accept that emotions, particularly love, can and must play a key role in the future of direction of our cities.” What makes a person love his/her city? Is it the diversity of its citizens? Is it that quirky festival? Perhaps, it is the simple ability to be an active player in shaping the future of the city. Answers to these questions as well as many other factors influences why one chooses to live in a specific city – and even more important why one loves that city. Kageyama discusses a range of topics that impact our emotional connection (or lack thereof) with our community such as arts & culture, diversity, urban design and more. Like urban theorist Richard Florida, Kageyama reinforces the powerful economic development implications of these social and cultural investments. Furthermore, the book highlights economic development projects that resulted from the emotional connection between citizens and their lovable cities.
As many cities navigate through unprecedented economic conditions, Peter highlights powerful stories of what he defines as “co-creators.” These individuals breathe life into communities by challenging the status quo, redefining the rules of engagement, and creating non-traditional partnerships. One of my favorite examples is the “Cross-Border Communications” project which featured large gobo projected messages directed at the city of Detroit onto the buildings in Windsor, Ontario. Messages included: “We’re in this together”, “Can we be friends?, and “Windsor + Detroit = BFF?” The organic nature of this project reminds me of why I love city life. The “co-creators” of this movement are driven by their emotional connection and inspire others to help shape the city’s future. Stories of co-creators featured in the book are inspirational testimonies of what can happen when this love runs free. More importantly, the unprecedented economic climate serves as a reminder to cities of the importance of nurturing a key asset, the active citizen.
If there were ever a time to be imaginative, the time is now. The work that downtown leaders undertake helps citizens fall in love with cities every day. Cities of varied sizes are featured. Kageyama equally highlights grassroots initiatives (which often require little to no investment) and large-scale transformative projects in the book. This diversity of city and project scale provides ample content to which the downtown practitioner or economic development professional can relate. After reading this book, you will fall in love again.
Find this book at Amazon or your local bookstore.