By most accounts that history is likely to note, this has been a really tough year. And as we look ahead to 2010, there is a lot of anxiety over what is next. I ran across this analysis piece that I think summarizes the pessimistic, prevailing wisdom - albeit from a what could be called a "liberal" standpoint.
The year 2010 may be remembered as a turning point in many American cities, towns and suburbs.
It could be the moment when citizens say “enough is enough” and rally to save essential public services from the chopping block, even if it means paying higher local taxes.
Or it could be time when deep gashes in funding for parks, libraries, education, public safety, transit, health and other cornerstones of the commons good bring many communities to their knees, ushering in age of reckless privatization and steep decline in quality of life as local governments are unable to provide for the basic needs of their citizens.
Conservatives would likely paint as dire a picture. One path we see the apocalypse. The other, the beautiful vision of America we desire. Do we "rally" to the banner of higher taxes? Do we scale back the governments to "essential" services?
Our question is: Why do we settle for just these two options?
What if there was a way we could truly do more with less? What if there was an approach that was cost-efficient and generated financial prosperity AND allowed us to live in places that are vibrant, beautiful and socially responsible? What if....
A focus on the return-on-investment we get from our public improvements. A way to make sure the communities we build truly add value to the lives of those that live there. A method to stop wasting money on inefficient infrastructure and restore America to a position of economic strength. An approach that focuses on improving the human habitat - creating places where people thrive.
As the year comes to a close, we are optimistic here at Strong Towns. While the world we envision looks radically different from the one we see around us, ours is a non-partisan vision that stretches deep into our collective American psyche. We all crave these special places. We know them in our hearts. As we look at the landscape we have created, we know it does not make sense.
We can do better. Much better.
Join us in spreading a message of hope in tough times. The Strong Towns approach can save our struggling towns and neighborhoods, improve our quality of life and put America on the path to renewed prosperity.