A year after starting the Strong Towns Blog (formerly The Planner Blog), we are proud to announce the creation of Strong Towns, an entrepreneurial, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on the root of the systemic problems we discuss in this space: our land use patterns and the way we have designed our towns and neighborhoods.
I started this blog with my colleague at the Community Growth Institute, Ben Oleson, as a professional challenge. We wanted to take the ideas and observations from the ten years since CGI was founded and develop them further. We chose the blog as a format because a routine publishing schedule - three days a week - forces a certain level of discipline and also because we knew that for our ideas to be successful they needed to stand up to public scrutiny. Nothing like a worldwide audience to test yourself against.
One of our audience, friend of the blog, author of the Cents of Place blog and founder of Donjek, Jon Commers, has been a continuous source of brilliant feedback and affirmation for the past year. I've personally spent many hours with Jon developing some of the ideas that have appeared in this space. That he independently reached the conclusion that the Strong Towns approach needed an organization - not just a blog - at the same time we were reaching a similar conclusion is validating. That he has agreed to be the Executive Director of Strong Towns is humbling.
And speaking of humbling, just wait until we are able to announce a Board of Advisors. I am extremely grateful to all of those that have signed up to help us in this cause.
People have told me that this is the worst time in history to be starting a non-profit organization. Funding agencies have tighter budgets, donations are down and there is no turnaround in sight. To us, the current recession is the exact reason why we have to start Strong Towns, the organization. Our current development pattern has saddled us with liabilities that undermine our long-term prosperity. We don't hear anyone out there offering a different approach, framing it in a way that is universal and builds on America's values. That is Strong Towns. We need it now more than ever.
I want to thank our readers here at the Strong Towns Blog. We'll continue to publish (at least) three times a week, only now you will get Jon's insights in addition to Ben's and my own. The power of the Internet is amazing. I have been stunned by the people who read this blog and the feedback they provide. More than anything, it has confirmed to me that we are doing something very important. Please continue to stop by www.strongtownsblog.org on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and forward our posts to everyone you can. You can also support us by connecting to us on Facebook and Twitter. Help us get the word out - it all counts.
I'd also like to thank the staff at Community Growth Institute, not only for proof-reading my stuff (Megan and Justin) but offering insightful feedback while giving me the time to be creative with this endeavor. I love working in a place where the people envision a better tomorrow coming about through a series of small, day-to-day actions. It is tough work in the trenches in America's small towns. I'm glad you guys are there with me.
Strong Towns. An idea whose time has come. Won't you join us and help build a stronger, more prosperous America.