A City without Limits

Envision a city where community, business, and nature are no longer at odds—where all, in fact, can thrive together. Mindful talks with Jonathan Rose, visionary urban planner and cofounder of one of the world’s leading retreat centers, the Garrison Institute.

Illustrations by Whooli Chen

Jonathan Rose has spent a lifetime thinking about how to make urban communities better. It’s no small task, as he outlined in his sweeping treatise on the history and potential of urbanism, The Well-Tempered City, a book that Ford Foundation president Darren Walker called “mandatory reading” for anyone who cares about the cities of the world. The guiding mission of Jonathan Rose Companies—the firm he founded in 1989—is to develop green, affordable, mixed-use housing, and, through its real estate fund, to acquire and preserve affordable housing throughout the country.

Mindful spoke with this native New Yorker, son of a developer, passionate environmentalist, and longtime student of Buddhist and Jewish contemplative traditions about his work, the need for equitable solutions for many of our social ills, and the healing power of great urban design.

Mindful: You’ve been meditating since you were a teenager. How would you say that your contemplative practice has informed the work you do and your dedication to “greening the built environment”?

Jonathan Rose: I’ve been interested in environmental science since I was a small child, and have considered myself an environmentalist all my life. But through my contemplative practice, I began to see the environment…


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About the author

Kelle Walsh

Kelle is a contributing editor for Mindful magazine. She writes and edits from Boulder, Colorado, where she loves running trails and doing yoga, and trying to learn to ski. In the past, she served as managing editor and executive digital editor for Yoga Journal. A longtime mindfulness practitioner, she specializes in health and lifestyle journalism for publications including Rodale’s Organic Life and Experience Life.