Gracen Johnson: Living in the Sprawl

Monday, October 1, 2012

We recently came across the work of Gracen Johnson, a Canadian student and social mobilizer with a passion for sustainable communities. After studying International Development at the University of Guelph, Johnson is now working toward a Master’s in Planning, Growth, and Regeneration at the University of Cambridge. As a climate action advocate and co-founder the ‘Vote Mob’ movement, she speaks and writes about civic engagement.

Her most recent written work, Living in the Sprawl: Ideas for a suburbia that gets better with age (.pdf), has recently been published and provides an interesting take on the notion of sprawl through the lens of social activism.

Cover page of Living in the Sprawl.

From the Amazon description:

Over half of Canadians and Americans live in the suburbs, yet a perfect storm of economic, ecological, and social trends threatens to undermine the quality and livability of these communities.

Even so, much of our dialogue surrounding the future of suburbs is not inclusive or empowering to suburbanites who are at once most vulnerable to neighbourhood decline and the greatest hope we have to make things better. There is a depth of amazing research, writing, investment, and design that can inform and inspire us to make changes in our own communities. This short, introductory volume is an attempt to make that accessible and meaningful to the average suburbanite without any planning expertise.