I had a really enjoyable conversation with Sarah Goodyear of Grist a couple of weeks ago, a summary of which was published yesterday (A talk with Charles Marohn, 'recovering engineer' and cofounder of Strong Towns). I really liked talking with Sarah -- she is smart, funny and understands the subject material....in other words, she is a good journalist -- and I'm really happy with how the piece turned out. It captures a lot of what we're about here at Strong Towns.

Read for yourself. A small excerpt:

It was a trip to Italy that convinced budding engineer Charles Marohn the way he had been trained to design streets and roads in America was all wrong. He wrote about some of the fallacies of current engineering standards -- ever-wider roads, ever-faster traffic, all in the name of safety -- in his recent post "Confessions of a Recovering Engineer." (Some of the same ideas get a pretty funny Xtranormal video treatment in the clip below.) The essay originally appeared on the blog of his nonprofit, Strong Towns, an organization that advocates "for changes in our pattern of development and a complete understanding of the full costs of our methods of growth."

According to Marohn, the three people who started Strong Towns came to that thinking from very different political perspectives. One, John Commers, is an urban liberal. One, Ben Oleson, is a suburban independent. And Marohn himself, now a planner with his own business, is a rural conservative. They all believe in a new, more sustainable model for development in America's towns and cities, and they all root for the Minnesota Twins. 

If you don't read Grist (www.grist.org), you really should give it a try. Sarah writes regularly on placemaking issues and her stuff is provocative and insightful. The organization attracts a lot of similar talent -- well worth your time.


A short programming note that may be of particular interest to our new readers: We take a little break from blogging here each December to work on our own personal resiliency strategies (for me it's baking dozens and dozens of Christmas cookies in the Norwegian tradition of my ancestors, then sharing them with everyone I can). Over the next two weeks we are going to run some "best of" posts from 2010. If you are relatively new to STB.org, this may help you catch up quickly on what we're all about.

And thank you to everyone that has sent me feedback on our video, Conversation with an Engineer. As of this moment, 2,500 3,200 3,800 people have watched the eight-minute production that has been described in Tweets as both "hilarious" and "painful". Truly, it is both.