As part of our conversation on infrastructure spending and the #InfrastructureCrisis (which Chuck Marohn initiated on Tuesday with this essay), we’d like to highlight good infrastructure spending decisions—the ones that truly provide a return on investment, the ones that genuinely make their neighborhoods better and take public ideas into account.
We believe that a nation full of towns that take on small, incremental projects to improve their neighborhoods is a much better model than a nation where the federal government goes trillions of dollars in debt in the hopes of growing the economy through megaprojects.
To that end, you’re invited to nominate a project from your town (or a town you’re familiar with) that exemplifies Strong Towns principles including:
- local decision-making and public input
- bottom-up rather than top-down action
- project design that’s built to adapt or change incrementally
- utilizing existing resources, land and infrastructure instead of building from scratch
- true return on investment
In other words, don’t send us your new stadium or performing arts center. We’re looking for homegrown, neighborhood-based small bets. (See below for examples.)
For the purposes of this contest, we’re defining an "infrastructure project" as any community investment (public or private) that interacts with the public realm and improves the neighborhood in some way.
Once we receive these submissions, we’ll review them as a staff and select the best ones for publication on our website. Then you, our readers and listeners, will get a chance to vote for whichever one that you think most exemplifies Strong Towns principles.
Important Contest Dates
- Contest submissions are due on September 30 by 11pm Central. Strong Towns staff will then review all submissions and select the best ones for publication on our website in mid-October.
- The public will be invited to vote for the top infrastructure project beginning Monday, October 17.
- Voting will conclude Friday, October 28 and we’ll announce the winner shortly thereafter.
Additional Contest Information
- You do not need to be involved in the infrastructure project to nominate it, although if you make it to later phases of the contest you or someone involved in the project will be invited to be interviewed on the Strong Towns podcast.
- Nominated projects can be publicly or privately run/funded.
- Projects that are unfinished can be submitted, but you should be able to give us a good idea of the timeline and certainty of successful completion.
- Projects can be submitted from anywhere in the world (but please submit your application in English).
- Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions
INSPIRATION TO GET YOU STARTED
Here are some Strong Towns stories of incremental, bottom-up projects that will give you an idea of the kind of thing we’re looking for (and if you’re from one of these towns, feel free to explore and potentially nominate one of them):
- A victory garden initiative in Milwaukee, WI
- Making places where people want to sit in Fredericton, NB
- A makerspace on the Minnesota Iron Range
- Small-scale neighborhood improvement projects in Austin, TX
- Cooperative investment in local properties in Minneapolis, MN
- An old school transformed into a community center in Fredericton, NB
- Redesigning streets to be safer and more walkable in Lancaster, CA
We can't wait to see your projects!
(Top photo by Johnny Sanphillippo)