At Strong Towns we are talking about the future of our towns and neighborhoods - and the future of our country - in terms that are unfamiliar to most policy-makers. Today we are embarking on a new initiative to change that.
We are heading out on the road to bring the Strong Towns message to communities in a format we are calling a Curbside Chat.
What is a Curbside Chat?
We have found that public officials in every region of the country are open and supportive of the Strong Towns message once they hear it. There is a stunning realization that our current growth approach is not generating prosperity, but few understand why and, unfortunately, even fewer know what to do about it.
So we are literally taking the Strong Towns message community to community to start a new dialog at the local level.
We've been working on a presentation that we will deliver to city councils, town boards, Rotary clubs, interested citizen groups, etc... that explains the current financial crisis, how it is impacting towns and neighborhoods, what we need to overcome to build local resiliency and how to move ahead in a transforming world.
We want to give local decision-makers the key to understanding what it takes to build a Strong Town: the link between our public spending and the real value of the places we create.
This is a provocative exchange designed to create a shift in the questions local officials ask themselves as they make critical decisions about their communities.
Why are we doing this?
There are three immediate reasons that prompt us to start this initiative now. First, we are seeing a lot of communities do some very destructive things out of desperation. Doubling down on the existing development pattern with large investments in new infrastructure and giving reactionary tax subsidies to spur growth are two immediate examples. Without another option, many communities are simply doing more of what got them here, further mortgaging their future on an old concept in a world that is changing quite rapidly.
Second, there is a lot of anxiety out there. We see it and we feel it too. There is a certain level of paralysis that exists in our communities because we know we are not in control of our own futures. Strong Towns want to change that. While we have no magic answer that can take the hardship of the current situation away, we can help break through that paralysis and get our towns and neighborhoods on the road to true recovery and local resiliency.
Finally, more and more people are opening their minds to the Strong Towns message. In times of apparent plenty, it was difficult to get people to think about the financial implications of our growth pattern. With trillions of unfunded infrastructure liabilities now facing us nationwide, and with the realization that "growing our way out" of this situation is not a likely prospect, the Strong Towns approach is a real alternative to the long, slow decline of tax hikes combined with service cuts.
How can you host or attend a Curbside Chat?
If you want to have a Curbside chat in your town, just email us or fill out this form. We are providing the chat to communities across Minnesota and parts of Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota and South Dakota at no charge. We simply ask the sponsoring community to provide the meeting space. We'll do everything else.
For communities outside of our immediate area, we'd love to meet with you as well. Strong Towns is a non-profit organization and we would simply ask, in addition to providing meeting space, that you assist us in covering our travel costs. Email us or fill out the form and we can work with you to figure it out.
Please pass this on to the public officials in your town and any other people that may possibly benefit from it.