Strong Towns is about being practical. It’s about boot strapping. It’s about learning from the past. It’s about being thoughtful in decision making. It’s about doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.
— Jon Larsen of Salt Lake City

This is the final day of our summer membership/fundraising drive. Please take a moment to show your support.


Sometimes people associate Strong Towns with me because I am doing a lot of the public stuff, but it's important to know that I've got the support of a fantastic team of people.

Early on when I was just starting to write and do a little podcasting, a group of New Urbanists -- my best friends in CNU's NextGen -- found me and invited me into their conversation. It cannot be understated how important this was for me, someone who was feeling lost in the wilderness to have this support group of people to help me, to share their wisdom with me and to reassure me that I was on the right path. They are still some of my closest friends and advisers. I'm eternally grateful to all of these people and can never thank them enough.

 

One our our NextGen breakout groups at work at a summit in Miami's South Beach.

One our our NextGen breakout groups at work at a summit in Miami's South Beach.

Out of the NextGen group has come my principle set of colleagues here at Strong Towns. Jim Kumon, our Executive Director, is as reliable as he is kind, a true intellectual leader, as well as a full partner, in this organization. Our Board Chair, Andrew Burleson, is our most avid volunteer. He has not only accompanied me on some important trips, offering me the kind of honest and critical feedback that we needed to elevate our game, but has devoted untold number of hours to vetting new ideas, writing and doing some really high level programming work. Ian Rasmussen -- one of my best friends and inspirations -- also serves on our board providing the blunt, but entertaining, check on reality that he is known for. And finally John Reuter, a guy who is successful running his own non-profit with an allied message in Idaho, has become indispensable to helping us figure out what it is going to take to get to the next level.

All four of these guys have stepped in under duress; Jim when the organization was floundering because we had outgrown my capacities and the other three when we needed to make a strategic change in a board structure we had simply outgrown. They all stepped up to the challenge. When I speak often of "we" in terms of the organization, this is who I'm talking about.

Selfie with John Reuter as we get out of the rain, and seek some sugar, in NYC.

Selfie with John Reuter as we get out of the rain, and seek some sugar, in NYC.

Ian (left) and Andrew in Salt Lake City.

Ian (left) and Andrew in Salt Lake City.

Before I end this post on the great people who are helping under the hood with the organization, I want to talk a little bit about where we are headed in that regard. When you step back and look at our board and key staff, they look a lot like me. This hasn't always been the case: prior renditions of our board, and certainly the cadre of people that have advised me over the years (and continue to), have skewed much more female, although still quite Anglo and mostly middle class. Right now, however, this board is a reflection of where I've come from intellectually, as well as a byproduct of the urgency we had in the last year in putting together a new group of people that was up to the challenge of our rapid growth as a movement.

As we continue to grow our capacity, our board and our movement, I am committed, along with everyone else in the organization, to making sure that our actions and composition reflect the movement itself as well as the broad swath of humanity that are living in the places we are trying to impact. In many ways, I'm still a Midwestern farm boy from rural Minnesota, but every chance I've had to converse about the values of the Strong Towns movement with people far remote from my own life experience, I've found nothing but common ground. I'm becoming more confident that ours is a universal message, that Strong Towns principles speak to not just a more prosperous nation, but to one that is also more just.

Let's continue to temper the confidence we have in our principles with the humility to acknowledge that we have more to learn, and let's use that to bring this message to every city, ever neighborhood and every block we can.


And I most of all with Strong Towns welcome the integrity, the willingness to ask hard questions, the willingness to speak frankly about how we live in this country, what we can likely expect in the next few decades, and how we need to take responsibility as men and women to give our children and grandchildren a place where they can live—where they can walk.
— Mark Dawson of Chicago
The Strong Towns organization is one of the few, if not the only, group that is actually willing to have an honest discussion about the predicaments that we face as a result of the predominant pattern of development, i.e., the “suburban experiment” of last 60 years.
— Brian Ludickeof Lancaster, CA

This is our last day of this member drive -- we need you now. Please step up and join.

Strong Towns has built a nationwide network around people like me to offer each other support, real data, and analysis that we can use to learn and make our communities better. It is important that we have more voices in the room than just those that just those calling for more subsidized unsustainable sprawl.
— Michael Wojcik of Rochester, MN