We're heading into the holidays when we take a brief break from producing new content. But now is a perfect time to get involved in some of the fascinating discussions going on in our forum or even to start your own discussion. Here are a couple of the conversations currently happening:

Kurt Graustein asked for some recommended reading as he takes on a new volunteer position on the Economic Development Committee in his town:

In the 12-Nov-2015 transportation webinar Q&A I posted a question and others in the session suggested I use this discussion forum to continue the conversation. My home town of Meredith, NH recently called for volunteers to serve on a new “Economic Sustainability / Development Committee”. My interest in this is very new, and it is far from my career skill set (IT), so I feel very unprepared. In the Q&A Chuck said “Please Say Yes!”, so I took a leap and submitted my application. I spoke with our Town Manager a couple days ago to confirm he got my application. Sounds like this is really gonna happen. Now to get as ready as I can in the next month or two. There is no specific charter for the committee (yet), so it seems to be a blank slate. Please help me with a recommended reading list. Chuck suggested I start with Nassim Taleb's “Antifragile”. What else?

Fraser Blyth asked for advice (and received some) to help encourage a positive rezoning in a highway district:

I'm in a community that is considering allowing a rezoning (Canada) application to allow a grocery store, pharmacy, health services, and public assembly in a highway commercial land use district. The land use district currently allows highway-oriented retail and we have 2 grocery stores in walkable neighbourhoods. The concern is that this will cause more people to have to drive and affect the spinoff economic benefits on other downtown businesses located near the existing grocery stores.

Are there any resources/reading materials that highlight appropriate highway commercial uses, and potential positive and negative impacts of a similar proposal? I can't find anything recently published on the American Planning Association, Canadian Institute of Planners, and Smart Codes websites.

Any help would be appreciated.

Jesse Bailey shared an article from the National Review about budget shortfalls in St. Louis County, MO that could use a Strong Towns perspective:

The National Review featured an article by columnist George Will about a municipality in St. Louis County, Missouri, that is levying oppressive fines to shore up its budget. Similar dynamics to what is happening in Ferguson and perhaps a canary in the coal mine for suburban decline nationally.

Of course Mr. Will doesn't connect the dots to ask the question, “Why can't this city meet its budget needs in the first place?” These are the kinds of stories which need Strong Towns thinking.

Head over to our discussion forum to talk with Strong Towns members and staff about the issues that matter to you.