Catherine Nasmith, a Toronto architect, and the editorial team of Spacing Magazine were honoured with the eleventh annual Jane Jacobs Prize at a ceremony on September 14, 2010, held at the Munk Centre for International Studies at the University of Toronto. Both recipients have a strong curiosity and passion for urban spaces and have put a spotlight on what works and what needs to be preserved in the city.
Catherine Nasmith, introduced by John Sewell, former Toronto Mayor, has spent her whole career at the forefront of Canadian urbanism. She has fought tirelessly to protect buildings, neighbourhoods and streetscapes. Whether it was fighting to protect the Don Jail from being demolished, keeping an extension of Front Street from being built right on top of Fort York, or getting consensus for tearing down a section of the Gardiner, she’s earned her mark as a great city builder.
For the last decade, Catherine has focused her energy on protecting our built heritage. Among other projects, she introduced Doors Open to Toronto in 2000, created pressure to amend the Ontario Heritage Act, and started the free e-newsletter, Built Heritage News, which provides bi-weekly information and updates for those interested in our built heritage, past and future.
As John Sewell pointed out during his introduction, “Cathy’s story proves the point: never underestimate the power of one smart, energetic, and determined person who thinks the best of people, searches out their good qualities, and then has the ability to bring them together for a common cause. Jane Jacobs justly admired people like Cathy as we do too.”
Accepting the Jane Jacobs prize for Spacing Magazine after an introduction by Toronto Mayor David Miller were Matthew Blackett, Dale Duncan, Todd Harrison, Shawn Micallef and Dylan Reid, the current editorial team. For the last seven years, Spacing Magazine has celebrated the public spaces of Toronto and its residents who inhabit, use and play in the city’s streets, sidewalks, laneways, parks, ravines, green spaces, transit and underground systems.
The magazine’s editors look very carefully at how the city works, what the street-level dynamics are in this city, and how we work together in the city economically. This, of course, is very much in tune with Jane Jacobs’ ideas that rather than starting with an ideological or theoretical approach about how things work, you should start with observing closely and drawing your lessons from there.
Residents and visitors alike find the magazine an ideal guide to the city. They may come across an article about the beauty of sewer maintenance hole covers, a feature story about the rules that govern Torontonians in their daily lives, or a map that shows where we live dictates how Torontonians get around.
For a full profile of this year’s recipients, visit www.ideasthatmatter.com/people/jj-prize.html.
About the Jane Jacobs Prize
The prize, sponsored by Ideas That Matter and funded by the Avana Capital Corporation, is named in honour of long-time Toronto resident and renowned author, Jane Jacobs. The first Jane Jacobs Prize was awarded in 1997 at the end of a five-day international celebration called Jane Jacobs: Ideas that Matter. Hundreds of the world’s most prominent thinkers and community leaders attended the Toronto event to exchange ideas and celebrate Jacobs’ work. The prize was created to build on the spirit of that gathering. It includes an annual stipend of $5,000 for three years, to be used as the recipient chooses.
Previous recipients of the prize include housing activist Derek Ballantyne, food and community advocate Nick Saul, community activist Amanuel Melles, transit advocate Steve Munro and restauranteur Roberto Martella.
For more information about the Jane Jacobs Prize and a full list of previous prize recipients, visit the Ideas That Matter website: www.ideasthatmatter.com/people/jj-prize.html.