Jane Jacobs Forum 2011:
Women as Public Intellectuals

Jane Jacobs Forum 2011

Women as Public Intellectuals:

The Legacies of Jane Jacobs, Rachel Carson, and Betty Friedan

Tuesday, November 8
6:30 – 8:00 PM, Reception to follow
Free, registration required



2011 marks the 50th Anniversary of the publication of Jane Jacobs classic The Death and Life of Great American Cities, a book that continues to have a dramatic impact on how cities, planning, and urban economics and values are understood. The book is read all over the world, and Jacobs continued to write important volumes on economics, ecology, and ethics.

She was not ‘trained’, a non-expert, an ‘outsider’. Death and Life was published in 1961, and on either side of it were two other books, also penned by ‘outsiders’, both of which had the same extraordinary impact: Rachel Carson(Silent Spring) and Betty Friedan (The Feminine Mystique). All women, writing in the late 1950s/1960s, changed the conversation.

So to honor Jacobs and this legacy of women as public intellectuals, we’re hosting a forum to reflect on what were the conditions that led to those women having the impact they did, and to ask women now who are engaged in public critique what they see as necessary to encourage women in this role.


robin pogrebinRobin Pobregin is a reporter on the Culture Desk of The New York Times, where she covers arts institutions, architecture and other topics. At the Times, she has also covered the magazine industry for the Business Desk and city news for the Metro Desk. Prior to joining the Times in 1995, she was an associate producer for Peter Jennings’ documentary unit at ABC News, where hour-long specials included pieces on Bosnia and Haiti. She also spent three years as a staff reporter at The New York Observer, where she covered a range of subjects, including the law. She has done freelance articles for magazines like New York, Vogue and Departures. She lives in New York City with her husband and two children.

Our Panelists:

roberta brandes gratzRoberta Brandes Gratz, newest book is The Battle For Gotham: New York in the Shadow of Robert Moses and Jane Jacobs. She is an award-winning journalist and urban critic, international lecturer and author also of The Living City: Thinking Small in a Big Way, and Cities Back from the Edge: New Life for Downtown. Her articles have appeared in many publications including the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Nation Magazine. Ms. Gratz was appointed by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 2003 and recently left that position for an appointment to the Mayor’s Sustainability Advisory Committee.

In 2005, in collaboration with Jane Jacobs, Ms. Gratz and a small group of accomplished urbanists founded The Center for the Living City, to build on Ms. Jacobs’s work. This includes publishing What We See: Advancing the Observations of Jane Jacobs and sponsoring Jane’s Walks, self-organized walking tours around the country on the week-end of Jacobs’ birthday.

melissa harris perryMelissa V. Harris-Perry is professor of political science at Tulane University, where she is founding director of the project on gender, race, and politics in the South. She previously served on the faculty of the University of Chicago and Princeton University. She is author of the award winning book Barbershops, Bibles, and BET: Everyday Talk and Black Political Thought, and the new book Sister Citizen: Shame, Stereotypes, and Black Women in America. Sister Citizen has premiered to great critical and popular acclaim. She is a columnist for The Nation magazine. Harris-Perry is a contributor to MSNBC, appearing as a bi-weekly guest on the Thomas Roberts Show and a frequent guest on the Rachel Maddow Show and The Last Word. She is a regular commentator for many print and radio sources in the U.S. and abroad. She lives with her family in New Orleans.

sally helgesenSally Helgesen, an internationally acclaimed author, speaker, and consultant, is ranked by Leadership Gurus as number 15 in its survey of the world’s most influential leadership experts. A few of her books include The Female Advantage, a best-selling classic in print for 22 years; The Web of Inclusion, cited in The Wall Street Journal as one of the best books on leadership of all time; and most recently The Female Vision, which explores the strategic value of what women see.

urvashi vaidUrvashi Vaid is a long-time organizer in the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and social justice movements. Currently, she is Director of the Engaging Tradition Project, which studies the interaction of tradition and LGBT and feminist movements, at the Center for Gender and Sexuality Law, at Columbia Law School.

Vaid is author of the forthcoming book, Irresistible Revolution: Race, Class and the LGBT Imagination (Magnus Books, June 2012). Her award-winning book Virtual Equality: The Mainstreaming of Gay & Lesbian Liberation (Anchor, 1996) provided a political analysis of the contemporary U.S. LGBT movement; and she co-edited, with Dr. John D’Emilio and Dr. William Turner, the anthology Creating Change: Public Policy, Sexuality and Civil Rights (St. Martin’s Press, 2000). Urvashi Vaid is a graduate of Vassar College and Northeastern University School of Law. She lives in New York with her partner, Kate Clinton.

The annual MAS Jane Jacobs Forum is supported by the Rockefeller Foundation.

Media partners: Ms. Foundation for Women and Women’s eNews.


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