Fall is quickly approaching, and with it comes the first ever Strong Towns National Gathering. The National Gathering is going to be a major moment in the history of our organization, as it’s the first time we will have assembled so many of our people together in one place to grapple with the issues facing our cities and citizens. We’re expecting to have a lot of fun, and to get a lot of work done.
Today I’d like to encourage all our Strong Towns members and friends to join us for this event, for one simple reason: the gathering is a time when we’re going to put our ideas and our organization through the crucible, and what comes out on the other side will be different. Showing up to the gathering and participating in the work that takes place there is your opportunity to shape the future of our movement.
At the gathering we’re going to be focused on three major themes: what we want, what we know, and what we do.
What do we want?
To date, the curbside chat has been the best distillation of the Strong Towns ideas. In short, our cities and towns are facing economic crisis because of the broken way we build them, and we want that to stop. When Chuck first started sharing the Curbside Chat, “stop” was our only solid piece of advice.
Over the years our thinking has matured, and a broader platform for change has begun to organically emerge. At the National Gathering we’re going to crystalize the first official Strong Towns Platform, an affirmative statement describing and defining a Strong Town.
What do we know?
The most important thing in developing our ideas is to be humble and and honest about the limitations of our expertise. As we engage with more people in more places, we’re challenged by new questions and new situations. Our challenge is to do what we can to broaden our knowledge base so we can respond to some of these questions, and to stay honest about what questions we simply don’t have an answer for at this time.
At the National Gathering we’ll have two major exercises to help broaden and sharpen our knowledge base. First, we’ll take some of our newer ideas and put them through challenge sessions where we take the role of the opposition and do our best to pick them apart. Second, we’ll open the floor for recent “burning questions” that we don’t have a response for, and see if we can formulate the beginning of a response to these issues.
What do we do?
We’ll wrap the National Gathering with a hard look at what we’ve done with the Strong Towns Organization to-date, and what we need to accomplish going forward. We’re not satisfied just to spread information around, we hope to see real, positive change begin to occur in our citizens, cities and towns.
So how does the organization take the next step forward? How can we turn this from a sort of “think tank” into a movement, with the reach and critical mass to effect real change in our communities? This question represents the need for a paradigm shift in our organization. That shift is just starting to happen, and is going to be strongly shaped by what happens at the National Gathering.
The key ingredient in all the work we’re going to do at the National Gathering is the people who attend. We’ve lined up our key leaders and thinkers to come and anchor the event, but we’d love to have a broader group of members show up and add depth and breadth to our thinking. This is the best opportunity to make an lasting imprint on the DNA of Strong Towns, and we hope you’ll choose to come and be a part of that.
You can find registration information on our member portal.
Thanks, and keep doing what you can to build Strong Towns!