Holiday gift ideas part one: memberships and books and magazines
I know this post is a bit late, but there's still time to get a good gift or at least order it and give people an IOU. Here goes:
1. Membership to a national (advocacy type) organization such as Rails to Trails Conservancy, League of American Bicyclists, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, GreenAmerica, or the National Gardening Association.
Preservation Maryland or Futurewise, the state smart growth advocacy group in Washington, the Virginia Bicycling Federation or BikeMaryland.
Or a multi-state group like the Sightline Institute or Ecotrust, both based in the Pacific Northwest.
3. Membership to a regional, county, or city organization such as DC Preservation League, the Landmark Society of Western New York, Cleveland Restoration Society, Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans, Transportation Alternatives of New York City, SPUR--San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, Gotham Gazette, Municipal Arts Society of New York, WalkBoston, Washington Area Bicyclists Association, etc.
In the DC area we have the Coalition for Smarter Growth. In Richmond, there is the Partnership for Smarter Growth.
4. Membership in a local history or arts museum, a state railroad museum such as the Detroit Historical Society, Heinz History Center in Pittsburgh, the New-York Historical Society or a regional trolley or transit museum like the NYC Transit Museum, the Baltimore Trolley Museum, or the National Capital Trolley Museum or a local nonprofit cinema such as the Byrd Theatre in Richmond, the Tampa Theatre, or the Avalon Theater in DC, etc.
5. Membership to a neighborhood organization such as a friends group for a local library or park, a neighborhood preservation group such as the Capitol Hill Restoration Society or Historic Takoma, etc.
Spacing (Canada), National Geographic Traveler, Green Places (this is a British publication hard to find in the US, probably the best publication for lay and professional audiences on public space matters), Shelterforce on social housing, regional magazines like Sunset or Southern Living, Grid Philly--a great local publication devoted to sustainability, Next American City...
Regional magazines and NGT are really awesome ways to learn about other places, local history, interesting stuff to do, etc.
8. A gift of a book on urbanism, cities, transportation policy, etc. I don't have it together with a master list, but Planetizen publishes a list each year of their top 10 book suggestions.
Beyond Zuccotti Park and Straphanger. Both are excellent and important books.
I'd happily recommend City Cycling, but the recipient has to be really hardcore for them to actually work through and read the complete book.
Straphanger is really really good for people interested but not policy professionals. I also always recommend Cities: Back from the Edge as one of the best "primers" on urban revitalization. Jan Gehl's Cities for People is equally excellent.
9. Or a gift of a book on local or regional history or architecture. There are the picture and neighborhood history books published by Arcadia Publishing through their Images of America series. They are usually available at local bookstores.
Two particularly interesting books I've come across this year are Main Streets of Louisiana, a picture and text book on the various town commercial districts across the state, published by the University of Louisiana at Lafayette Press and Michigan's Historic Railroad Stations by Wayne State University Press.
The latter book, by Michael Hodges, doesn't have an extensive section of introductory text, but what's there is golden--a succinct discussion of public space and the importance of railroad stations in the civic realm, and a good survey of the key texts in the field.
Right now the WSU Press is offering a minimum discount of 30% on titles as a holiday special.
Johns Hopkins University Press (catalog on railroads, regional interest, including architecture) and the University of Chicago Press (architecture) both have extensive publishing programs on history and architecture, with many many excellent items. So does MIT Press and Princeton Architecture Press...
11. Or a book on urban agriculture, sustainability, or homesteading, etc. The Square Foot Garden is always good. Or Backyard Chickens or Urban Homestead.
Or a subscription to Urban Farm, Backyard Poultry, or MaryJane's Farm magazine (some really great recipes). and one of the local foodways publications from Edible Communities.