The Impact of our Efforts
A recent survey made clear that our members aren’t just sitting idly by as they read our content. Instead, they’re opening dialogues. They’re running for their city councils. As city planners, architects, and elected officials, they’re bringing new skills and asking vital questions in their workplaces that are rarely considered outside of our movement. They’re holding meetings, making plans, and taking action. They’re fighting from the front lines, not the sidelines.
Inspired and informed by the Strong Towns message, our members are creating change in their neighborhoods, towns, and cities across the country. We recently surveyed 116 members. Astonishingly, seventy of those we surveyed reported taking actions in their cities that were inspired by Strong Towns. And they are making a difference in so many places.
This map shows the reported success stories along with a few we’ve pulled out to show the kinds of actions our members are taking.
- Chisholm, MN: Members of the movement hosted a series of events in the Iron Range region of Minnesota, which focused on taking incremental steps to improve the local economy. This series led a regional development agency to offer small grants for city improvement projects like repainting storefronts, installing streetlights, and building "pocket parks.”
- Thunder Bay, ON: After a Strong Towns presentation in Thunder Bay, Ontario, the city was inspired to host a “Strong Block” event to temporarily showcase what a thriving, economically successful street would look like.
- Solon, IA: Lauren Whitehead was recently elected to the city council in her town as one of its only young, female members. Now in office, she frequently utilizes the resources of the Strong Towns community as she considers how to make the best decisions for her city. Lauren is one of several Strong Towns members serving as an elected official.
- Indianapolis, IN: Strong Towns members in Indianapolis came together to form “Strong Indy,” a local group working to make their city stronger through discussion and action. The group has over 300 members.
- Dallas, TX: Nathaniel Barrett, a Strong Towns member, is currently working with residents in his Dallas neighborhood to advocate for narrower streets where cars drive slower — inspired by Strong Towns’ #SlowtheCars campaign.
- San Bruno, CA: Strong Towns member Adam Cozzette was part of a grassroots coalition who successfully ended plans for a road widening project in San Bruno, California — inspired in part by Strong Towns’ #NoNewRoads campaign.
Fate, Texas: Doing the Math on Development
A team of Strong Towns members who work for the City of Fate, TX have taken Strong Towns’ principles to heart and have been working to apply these concepts in their community. It began a couple years ago, when Fate City Manager, Michael Kovacs, shared Strong Towns’ Curbside Chat videos with his city council.
That simple presentation led local leaders to immediately start thinking seriously about Fate’s financial future and planning for development in a way that ensures a sufficient return on each investment — one that will pay for the city's needs, not bankrupt it. Michael and his colleagues developed a strategy for analyzing the ratio of private to public investment in their community. They implemented a system that takes this into account every time a new development is proposed.
Not only that, but they shared their knowledge and the system they’d developed with a room full of Strong Towns members at our national summit this past April. They also led a web broadcast about it for a virtual audience of Strong Towns members later in the year.
Fate is just one of many cities around the country who have taken the Strong Towns message to heart and begun using the Strong Towns approach in their decision making. Cities like Hays, Kansas; Pelham, Ontario; and several others have applied Strong Towns’ ideas in order to assess financial challenges and develop solutions. The outcome of these initiatives have been powerful guides to local decision-making, such as the “Stronger Hays” and “Stronger Pelham” documents, which may impact these cities’ daily operations for years to come.
Shreveport, Louisiana: Fighting a Harmful Highway Project and Empowering a Neighborhood
A year ago, Shreveport, Louisiana was on the brink of building a highway right through the poor, inner-city neighborhood of Allendale. As residents came together and rallied against this project in order to protect their homes and their community, Strong Towns became an inspiration and a voice for their efforts.
In addition to sharing stories about the amazing citizens of Allendale and the community that would be ripped apart as a result of this highway, Strong Towns also focused on the fundamentally flawed economic arguments propping up the project in the first place. We demonstrated just how financially harmful this highway would be, in opposition to local leaders claiming that the project would benefit their city.
As a result of this national focus on the issue, lawyers from across the country, including the Sierra Club’s legal team, have now stepped in to offer assistance. The fight against the highway is gaining momentum.
Strong Towns member and Shreveport resident John Perkins explains how Strong Towns' unique method of activism, which uses articles, podcasts and social media to share its message, has been particularly impactful in Shreveport. Before Strong Towns, he says, there was no central hub of information or support for groups like the #AllendaleStrong neighborhood group. Now he uses Strong Towns' content to help him understand the issues facing his city and how to address them.
“I'm forever changed by Strong Towns,” he explains, “and along with my new friends in our once small neighborhood group, #AllendaleStrong, we are Strong Citizens making Shreveport into a Strong Town.”
Shreveport resident and Strong Towns member, Tim Wright, who helped bring Charles Marohn to Shreveport for an event, adds, “Strong Towns has helped our citizens understand why we have financial trouble, and has redirected our focus towards small, incremental improvements for change that actually lasts. On a personal level, it's also given me an understanding of how to be an engineer that incorporates human-centered principles.”