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the Curbside Chat


An important look at the financial realities facing America's cities, towns and neighborhoods.

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the Curbside Chat


An important look at the financial realities facing America's cities, towns and neighborhoods.

The challenge of this generation is not going to be growth. We’ve had decades of growth and it hasn’t given us prosperity. The challenge we face now is what to do with all the stuff we’ve already built.
— Charles Marohn, President, Strong Towns

The Curbside Chat is a core Strong Towns presentation that explains why our towns are going broke—despite lots of growth—and how they can build toward a stronger, more prosperous future.

Why are so many cities and towns across North America going broke? Our roads are deteriorating. Our governments are in debt. No matter how much we increase them, our taxes aren’t enough to fix it all. And no one seems to be able to agree on how we got here—much less how to change the course.

This isn’t just about numbers on a budget. This is about the fate of the communities we love most, and the real people that live there. This is about how to give our citizens, today and tomorrow, a chance at the future they deserve.

If we want American cities to be strong and resilient we need to change everything about the way we plan and build our places.

Chuck Marohn gives a Curbside Chat presentation in Austin, TX.

In the Curbside Chat, we explain, in plain language, how so many American cities have found themselves in decline after decades of “growth.” And then we show you a revolutionary way forward that could create enduring prosperity—if we just have the courage to change our minds.


Explore the Curbside Chat in Depth

The following films and articles cover the key components of the Curbside Chat. 

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Host a Chat


A candid talk about the future of America's cities, towns and neighborhoods.

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Host a Chat


A candid talk about the future of America's cities, towns and neighborhoods.

How can our towns get stronger—not weaker—when our economy changes? How can we repopulate our empty streets and empty storefronts? What can we learn from the earliest days of city building about building better places tomorrow? And how can active citizens, local officials, and ordinary people like you and I make it happen today, no matter how badly we’re starting off?

A live Curbside Chat in your town is your opportunity to hear our answer to these questions, and to participate in a community-specific discussion about how the Strong Towns approach can improve your city.

Watch a recording from a recent Curbside Chat in Olympia, WA. View more presentation examples here.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who is the Curbside Chat for?

The Curbside Chat was specifically developed for average citizens, local officials, and anyone who wants to make change in their communities—from the bottom up. Our message applies to cities and towns big and small, across the continent.

What are the main ideas explored in the Curbside Chat?

Three core concepts are central to Strong Towns thinking, and we explore them in depth in the Curbside Chat presentation:

  1. Continuous building (“growth”) is not the measure of a successful town, especially if that so-called growth represents increasing liability for our future citizens.
  2. When we plan for our cities’ futures, we need to look to the history of how resilient cities have been successfully built for centuries—not what our modern predictive models speculate might make our cities better off.
  3. Any citizen can participate in making their town stronger, and no town will truly be made stronger without building a culture of people who care.

Where can I see an example of a Curbside Chat presentation?

You can view dozens of recorded Curbside Chat presentations on our YouTube page.

What does all of this mean for my town?

To fully explore this question, please fill out this short form and Strong Towns' Pathfinder, Michelle Erfurt, will be in touch with you. 

We also encourage you to visit our event calendar to find out whether there's Curbside Chat coming to your area soon.