America's Suburban Experiment

America's Suburban Experiment

For thousands of years, humans built settlements scaled to people who walked. The knowledge for doing this successfully was developed slowly over time. In a generation, Americans transformed an entire continent around a new transportation technology. We often fail to appreciate how we are testing this approach as we go. Quite simply: it's a massive experiment.

Mechanisms of Growth

Mechanisms of Growth

America’s cultural belief is that growing cities experience not only opportunity and prosperity today, but the growth allows them to experience success far into the future. There is a built-in assumption that new growth pays for itself today and generates enough wealth to sustain itself generation after generation.

These are flawed assumptions.

Illusion of Wealth

Illusion of Wealth

New growth creates an illusion of wealth. Local governments experiencing growth look and feel successful. They have high revenues and very little immediate costs associated with them. Long term, as the liabilities start to come due, it is revealed that a free road isn't really free.

Productive Growth

Productive Growth

Growth is not enough. What America needs is productive growth; growth that builds wealth generation after generation.

Incremental Development

Incremental Development

We like our places to emerge fully formed and then we expect them to never change, but that's not how life works. Cities are like living things. They need to be able to change and adapt, to start small and mature incrementally over time. 

We can't wait around for a big developer or a mega-project to fix our cities. The kind of development we need today happens at the scale of a Strong Citizen, someone who cares about the place they live.

Traditional Development

Traditional Development

The traditional development pattern has tremendous financial upside and limited financial downside. In contrast, our new, experimental approach has limited financial upside and a downside that can literally go negative.