Member News Digest


One of the ways our members advocate for building strong towns is through their own blogging. Here’s some recent highlights from our Member Blog Roll.

  • Steve Shultis of Rational Urbanism talks about public squares and the potential for activating the one is his hometown of Springfield.

My city disappoints much of the time, not least because my expectations are very high, but yesterday, for twelve remarkable hours in its finest outdoor room, Springfield was as fabulous a place as any. Though it took a special event to show that it was possible, on its best day, and with tremendous effort, Springfield can be as good as a couple of towns most people have never heard of just going through the motions on a normal day.

The term "complete streets" has been popularized by the nonprofit Smart Growth America, which also sponsors the National Complete Streets Coalition. They begin by noting the widely-acknowledged fact that street development in America since World War II has focused on moving cars, and moving them as quickly as possible. In contrast, the defining principle of a "complete street" is one that is designed "with all users in mind – including bicyclists, public transportation vehicles and riders, and pedestrians of all ages and abilities [emphasis in original]." The corollary, then, is to allow individuals to choose their mode of getting around, rather than feel forced to travel by car because it's not safe to go by any other means of transit.

I think palm trees can sometimes play a role in defining public space and the "outdoor room" on the street and they make good accent trees. And certain types of palms, when clustered together can provide a decent amount of shade.

Among the anti-urbanists, those implausible arguments include the contention that the fiscal problems at city halls are the result solely of ineptitude, not a flawed land-use paradigm, a denial of the induced traffic phenomenon, and a rejection of climate change coupled with the far-fetched suggestion that thousands of reputable scientists are working in a secret cabal to hide the truth.

  • Bill Emory provides great black and white photography. His latest.

When you rip out the bones that a place was built upon, that place will struggle to exist. Some places have managed to rebuild themselves - around cars, busses, or subways, but many places have failed. When I see all of these places scattered throughout the United States that look as if they have seen decline or a lack of substantial investment since the 1940s, I feel that these places have simply failed to adapt and recover from their bones being ripped out. These are places that used to bustle with wealth and people, and now both have moved on. 

If you are a member of Strong Towns and have a site you are communicating from, let us know and we’ll add it to the blog roll. If you’re not a member, sign up today to become one.