Among her many contributions to urban culture - especially in regards to crime - Jane Jacobs shone a light on what she called the subtle "ballet of the street". Hers was the gift to look and see what locals and city officials actually do to their pubic spaces and how they treat or mistreat them.
The ability to see with Eyes Wide Open is the cultivated skill of looking with an uncluttered mind unswayed by prejudices (as impossible as that seems).
This week we introduced SafeGrowth planning to Melbourne, Australia. We found limitless opportunities to practice Eyes Wide Open on the downtown streets of that magnificent city: subtle feasts like socks knitted over road barriers (who came up with yarn bombing, anyway?); sublime feasts like personal love locks locked on a pedestrian bridge.
Melbourne's rich array of urban micro-tweaks show up to a much greater extent than most other places I've seen. I suspect it's partly why so many downtown streets buzz day and night.
No doubt crime occurs downtown. We watched cops arrest at least one inebriated troublemaker. Plus three of our SafeGrowth teams are tackling crime and fear issues downtown.
Yet from the library staircase that university students control like protective hens to the graffiti laneways that show up on tourist maps (this is, after all, a city-of-laneways), downtown Melbourne epitomizes the diversity Jacobs so loved on vibrant public streets.