Center for the Living City to develop English translation of ‘Urban Acupuncture,’ book by Jaime Lerner, former mayor of Curitiba, Brazil, as guide for community transformation 

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MIAMI—(April 24, 2014)—The English edition of Jaime Lerner’s “Urban Acupuncture” will debut this fall as a guide for civic leaders to tackle community challenges with quick, innovative solutions. The effort is a partnership between the Center for the Living City and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which is investing $100,000 to bring Lerner’s book to the United States. 

Cities often get stuck when faced with costly solutions to everyday problems. Jaime Lerner used creativity and a small budget to create sustainable solutions when he was mayor of Curitiba, Brazil. Lerner captured these approaches and ideas in his book “Urban Acupuncture,” which was published in Portuguese in 2003. The term comes from the idea of targeted, sometimes short-term, interventions that tackle a design, economic or social challenge, in most cases with immediate results. An urban acupuncture solution could involve instituting a low-cost rapid-bus system that addresses pollution and transit issues, as Lerner did in Curitiba, or creating pop-up parks and temporary pedestrian malls to add to city vitality. Lerner’s solutions emphasize the need for urban designs that do not separate the places people live from where they work, play and carry out their daily lives.

With Knight funding, the Center for the Living City will work with Island Press to bring these lessons to the United States—inspiring cities to invest in meaningful, small-scale interventions that spark community transformation. The book will raise awareness of successful city-building practices that are still unknown to many policymakers, activists and professionals, including architects, planners, landscape architects and civil engineers.

“I see cities not as problems, but as solutions. I would argue that any city, willingly, can be transformed for the better in a relatively short period of time, provided that we embrace a more generous approach to them,” said Lerner.

“Lerner has built a proven strategy for fast, effective innovations that can result in big changes for cities—allowing people to shape the places they live in,” said Carol Coletta, Knight Foundation vice president for community and national initiatives. “By making these lessons available to the English-speaking world, we can inspire others to invest in urban acupuncture in their communities.”

“One of the challenges we face in cities today is a perception that the problems of our time are too big to manage,” said Stephen A. Goldsmith, director of the Center for the Living City. “What Jaime offers communities is evidence that we can make small interventions that matter; that we have the creativity to restore our places now and not get mired in our own bureaucracy.”

The initial run of “Urban Acupuncture” will include both hardcover and e-book editions. The book will also include new illustrations and original drawings by Lerner. Lerner will undertake an eight-city book tour timed with the launch of “Urban Acupuncture,” starting in Miami in October 2014.

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About the Center for the Living City

The Center for the Living City was founded in 2006 with the support of urbanist, activist and author Jane Jacobs.  In the spirit of Jacobs’ work, the Center’s purpose is to enhance the understanding of the complexity of contemporary urban life and through it, promote increased civic engagement among people who care deeply for their communities. 

About the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Knight Foundation supports transformational ideas that promote quality journalism, advance media innovation, engage communities and foster the arts. We believe that democracy thrives when people and communities are informed and engaged.


Anusha Alikhan, Director of Communications, Knight Foundation, 305-908-2677, [email protected]

Stephen A. Goldsmith, Director, The Center for the Living City, [email protected]