When heading to PastForward in Houston (2016), I wondered what Jane Jacobs would have to say about this zoning adverse city. I was traveling to Houston to not only attend the conference and explore a city, but to present alongside the other founders of the Rust Belt Coalition of Young Preservationists.
This culmination of events led to the creation of an entirely hand sewn Tiny Jane Jacobs, who took over the @rustbeltyp Instagram account to document her adventures. With my new adventure partner in tow, I visited the infamous beer can house, experienced my first James Turrell skyspace, and ate too much food at the Houston farmer’s market at the base of the city’s art deco city hall. People would ask me “Who is that little grey haired lady?” and I would happily inquire if they had ever heard of Jane Jacobs. Depending on their response I would give a mini bio or we would prattle on about Jane Jacobs impact on advocacy.
What I was not expecting was people asking if they could have their own Tiny Jane. When I got back home to Ohio, I began to brainstorm on how to best create a doll that could be easily created for others. I would need an illustration and fabric! Fabric was easy, because I have utilized Spoonflower for custom textile designs for years. Spoonflower allows you to decide what type of fabric and you can order large yardage or small samples, whatever your project needs.
Illustration was also a bit more difficult. While I consider myself a creative type, I knew that I was not the best person for to design the Tiny Jane I envisioned; I needed a design that would provide a whimsical perspective on arguably one of the most well known urbanists. I looked toward my friend since before birth, Shannon May. Shannon is a San Francisco based illustrator, who helped design those custom google stickers you hopefully have on your phone. Her work has illustrated cookbooks, been featured in the New York Times and O Magazine, and extends beyond illustrations into wearable art.
Luckily, Shannon accepted this nerdy design prompt with a can do attitude and I soon started to receive incredible process updates. Shannon created the Tiny Jane that you all are familiar with and I am looking forward to upcoming partnerships with her for a friend or two for Tiny Jane. So, while my hands create your dolls, her talent brought the vision to life - a tiny urbanist to inspire people to advocate for the communities.
Stay tuned for an upcoming blog on how the Tiny Jane Project evolved into the Tiny Activist Project and some BIG announcements.