1st Edition

Co-Crafting the Just City
Tales from the Field by a Planning Scholar Turned Mayor

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after March 24, 2022
ISBN 9780367751043
March 24, 2022 Forthcoming by Routledge
256 Pages 16 B/W Illustrations

USD $39.95

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Book Description

The 2016 election in Iowa City would provide an opportunity that planning faculty have long desired: the opportunity for one of their own to serve as mayor.

In this new book, former Iowa City Mayor and Professor Emeritus James A. Throgmorton provides readers a sense of what democratically-elected city council members and mayors in the United States do and what it feels like to occupy and enact those roles. He does so by telling a set of “practice stories” focusing primarily, but not exclusively, on what he, a tenured planning professor at the University of Iowa, experienced and learned as a council member from 2012 through 2019 and, simultaneously, as mayor from 2016 through 2019. The book proposes a practical, action-oriented theory about how city futures are being (and can be) shaped, showing that storytelling of various kinds plays a very important but poorly understood role in the co-crafting process, and demonstrating that skillful use of ethically-sound persuasive storytelling (especially by mayors) can improve our collective capacity to create better places. The book documents efforts to alleviate race-related inequities, increase the supply of affordable housing, adopt an ambitious climate action plan, improve relationships between city government and diverse marginalized communities, pursue more inclusive and sustainable land development codes/policies, and more.

It will be of great interest to urban planning faculty and students and elected officials looking to collaboratively craft better cities for the future.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: City Crafting in a Contested Age

2. Trying to Be a Team Player, 2012-13

3. Turning toward the Just City, 2014-15

4. City Crafting as Mayor, 2016-19

5. Two Days in the Life of a Mayor

6. Conclusion

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James A. Throgmorton is Emeritus Professor, School of Urban and Regional Planning, The University of Iowa. He served on the Iowa City City Council from 2012-2016 and was elected Mayor in 2016.


"To govern democratically requires maneuvering among diverse passions and interests. Throgmorton deftly brings his readers into the midst of the delicate balances that must be negotiated so that cities can be effectively and justly governed. Co-Crafting the Just City is an impressive capstone to a career spent exploring the many pathways to the practices of progressive and democratic change."
Robert A. Beauregard, Professor Emeritus, Columbia University.

"This insightful and complex account reveals how Jim Throgmorton struggled with class and economic inequalities, and with racial and cultural politics too, to craft a more inclusive, resilient and just city."
John Forester, Professor, Cornell University.

"This book provides a much needed insiders’ view in political decision-making in a relatively small American city. The fine-grained story illustrates how a mayor with a planning background was instrumental in crafting the city’s future for the benefit of ordinary citizens."
Louis Albrechts, Emeritus Professor of Planning, University of Leuven.

"This is a really valuable record, not just of the life of  a Councillor and Mayor, but of the mechanics and dynamics of small town city government in the US. Throgmorton shows through his experience how cities  are constructed through multiple webs of relations, and highlights the importance of building relationships and networks if new ideas and ways of working are to become established practices."
Patsy Healey, Emeritus Professor of Planning, Newcastle University.