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One of the things I'm asked almost everywhere when I'm talking to people one-on-one is whether or not all the travel is hard. Yes,it is hard. Being on the road messes with your sleep, your diet and your mind. There are moments of overwhelming intensity interspersed with seemingly endless hours of monotony involved in getting from one place to another. And most of all, it's time away from the comfort of home and the people there that I care so much about. 

As many of you know, I have two daughters. The long nights when I'm away are hard on them for many reasons. I tell myself that the counter to that is that, when I'm home, I'm really home. I generally have more flexibility with my schedule and can be intensely here for them when I'm here. Does that offset being intensely gone when I'm gone? I don't know. It weighs on me a lot. 

My youngest daughter loves pandas and, as kids will do, has accumulated a collection of stuffed panda toys. A couple of years ago when I was packing for a trip she gave me one to take with. She told me it was so that I would not forget her, a plea that was just crushing for someone who spends nearly every minute away wishing she were there. I now often take "friends" with me and, to all of our amusement, will photograph them helping me out and keeping me company while I'm working to spread the Strong Towns movement.

Of course, every now and then the schedule allows me to bring one of them with. The upside for them is spending time with their dad as well as getting to see and do some fun things. The downside is that I have to work which means they are going to be forced to sit patiently through a meeting or a presentation. My oldest, Chloe, has done this a few times and is really a trooper when it comes to passing the time by zoning dad out. Generally when we're done with the work, I'll ask her if she liked dad's talk or found any of the rest interesting at which time she informs me that it was boring where she even bothered to listen. They keep me humble.

Chloe sitting in the front row reading her book while I presented on a panel at New Partners for Smart Growth in Denver last year. She has a coveted seat -- it was standing room only -- but was so focused on that good book she didn't notice the room had filled. My friend Sam Western is two over from her and another friend, John Simmerman, sat right behind her.

Chloe sitting in the front row reading her book while I presented on a panel at New Partners for Smart Growth in Denver last year. She has a coveted seat -- it was standing room only -- but was so focused on that good book she didn't notice the room had filled. My friend Sam Western is two over from her and another friend, John Simmerman, sat right behind her.

Being on the road is hard work, yes, but it is also a lot of fun. Spending time with intelligent, thoughtful people who want to make their place better is so incredibly invigorating. The amazing reality of what I do is that I'm often brought to a place as an expert but it is that act of seeing and learning about so many different places that has actually given me some expertise. And understand, I most often get the tour from the people who know the most about a place. It is a brain download -- an intellectual stimulant -- that I'm perhaps addicted to. 

And, of course, sometimes we just have fun.

Joe Fratesi with a book recommendation for me.

Joe Fratesi with a book recommendation for me.

Taking a break with Mike Lydon in Memphis.

Taking a break with Mike Lydon in Memphis.

I envy Joe Minicozzi's sock collection.

I envy Joe Minicozzi's sock collection.

Elvis's guitar.

Elvis's guitar.

A Minnesotan watching Dallas deal with snow at our Curbside Chat.

A Minnesotan watching Dallas deal with snow at our Curbside Chat.


I met Chuck and Jim at a meet up in Long Beach this past winter. The diversity of those in attendance, from bicycle advocates, historical preservationists, and urban gardening organizers, showed that Strong Towns is interested in bringing more voices from the community into the conversation.
— Don Rice of Los Angeles
I support Strong Towns because I believe in what they’re doing - and because they support me, a stranger, like a neighbor, over multiple times extending a personal welcome regardless of other obligations. This is old fashioned hospitality and humanity - this is what Strong Towns IS, and it demonstrates so well one way we can all grow.
— Patty Rosnel of Palmer,AK

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I’ve always been interested in helping to make my community strong and resilient for the long term, but the Strong Towns blog, and now the network, helped me with the language, concepts and tools to incorporate financial implication thinking and analysis tools into what I do as a city planner.
— Beckye Frey of Frisco,TX