Author: Tom Paine

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Cities with Heart: the book

Colleagues, I am delighted to report that Cities with Heart (China Architecture and Building Press, 2015) is selling well, online and in bookstores. Most of the cities where this book can make a difference are in China, so this book goes the extra mile: it is bilingual in Chinese and English, leaving no room for doubt as to what this non-Chinese author is passionately committed to saying to a Chinese speaking audience about why urban public open space matters more than ever, and what best practices are essential for achieving open space excellence.

Cities with Heart is for concerned citizens as much as for designers, and not just in China. Readers outside China can now order the book with the help of the book website,

Writing Cities with Heart has convinced me that what we face is nothing less than a “greenspace imperative.” Public open space is not just nice to have, it is essential, nowhere more so than in rapidly urbanizing cities filled with crowded apartments and workplaces. When it comes to providing the open spaces that people need, in a time of resource scarcity and climate change, getting it right matters more than ever, and informed citizens can make a difference.

Central Park is on the cover of Cities with Heart for a reason. Nowhere is Olmsted’s vision of parks for all the people more alive than in the best of the Peoples Parks of China that emerged in the twentieth century.  When Olmsted was a young man, at age twenty-one, in 1843, long before he found his calling, he signed up as a common sailor and visited Canton, today’s Guangzhou, and was so moved by the kindness toward strangers extended to him by ordinary Chinese people who welcomed him into their homes, shops, gardens and temples that he never forgot it. That visit to China helped shape his thinking in the 1850s about parks for the people that found its way into Central Park and the parks movement ever after.

I hope I can enlist you to the cause.  If you have any suggestions or comments, I look forward to hearing from you!

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