This is Day 2 of our Give to the Max fundraiser. Tomorrow is Give to the Max day here in Minnesota, a day devoted to philanthropy statewide. We're building up to that and reaching out this week to our nationwide audience in our request for support. We could really use your help. If you have the means, please consider making a donation to Strong Towns.
Our video challenge continues -- check out this testimonial from our good friend GML4. Really awesome. We love you too, George.
Today on the blog we are going to focus on all of the things that we've done here. It is a long list, especially for an organization that has only one, half-time staff member and very limited budget. Over the past three years, we've leveraged literally thousands of volunteer hours and in-kind donations to help us accomplish the following:
- Develop the Curbside Chat program and then take part in 39 separate Chats across the country (with many more scheduled). The Curbside Chat program is a community conversation about the financial health of our cities, towns and neighborhoods. We explain the financial assumptions behind the post WW II pattern of development and show why it has not created sustained prosperity for America. The program starts a local conversation around rational responses to our current economic crisis, responses centered on building resiliency and the need to create places of value.
- To spread the Strong Towns message, we developed the Curbside Chat Companion Booklet. It contains not only the findings and conclusions from the Curbside Chat program but also a set of practical strategies for transitioning to a Strong Towns approach. We formatted the booklet in a way that is accessible to the general public. In the first week it was released, it was downloaded over 6,000 times! The feedback has been amazing -- we had one planner tell us it was his "new bible". We really need to get this in more people's hands.
- We communicate to thousands through the Strong Towns Blog. We publish three times a week, with one of those (Monday) receiving wider syndication. Our approach is to write for the typical city council member, which gives our writing broad appeal. We get messages constantly from people who say they have printed out our stuff and handed it to their elected officials. Some of our most classic pieces include Confessions of a Recovering Engineer and The Suburban Growth Ponzi Scheme. The number of times each has been read is well into the six figures. We are dedicated to continuing to use this channel to promote our message.
- We also communicate with people through the Strong Towns Podcast, a radio-like talk program that comes out weekly. The Strong Towns message is so new and fresh that we needed another channel to communicate it. The podcast gives us a chance to make it personal, to speak intimately and in detail about complex subjects. The podcast is syndicated through iTunes and has a rapidly growing base of subscribers, and audience that we suspect is much different than the blog.
- Later in the week we are going to talk about some of the things we are working on for the future, a large one being a video initiative, but for now I'm going to highlight how we've dabbled with video as a way to communicate the Strong Towns message. Video is a very powerful and effective tool. Our Conversation with an Engineer video has been watched 125,000 times. We've had reports of it being used at engineering conferences and in college classrooms. My TEDx video, The Important Difference between a Road and a Street, has only been out a month but has already been watched 7,000 times -- an amazing number for a 15 minute presentation. And our commentary on the pedestrian features of the diverging diamond interchange have created a lot of healthy discussion -- and nearly 6,000 views -- in only a week. We're using our YouTube channel very effectively to reach a broad audience on matters normally too technical to generate much interest.
- We have also used our time to change the national narrative on growth and development by being a resource for the media. We've been interviewed for pieces in the Washington Post, USA Today, Fortune, Politico, Business Insider, Star Tribune, Minnesota Public Radio and dozens of smaller newspapers around the country. We dedicate a lot of time to educating members of the media on the Strong Towns approach, giving communities across the country deeper insight into their own choices.
- Most rewardingly, Strong Towns is also a community resource. We've been more than a little overwhelmed by the number of public officials who contact us with very detailed and specific questions about applying Strong Towns principles to their community. We try to get back to all of them -- and eventually do -- but there is a tremendous demand out there for assistance. Our plans for the future address this more specifically because being a community resource is one of the greatest services we provide.
Strong Towns is working to break the myth that America's post WW II approach to growth creates prosperity. We are replacing that old, failed narrative on how to achieve success with a new program for building and capturing value, block by block, neighborhood by neighborhood. Most importantly, in a more austere age, our approach is within every community's financial grasp.
Every town can become a Strong Town. And we need them to.
The is no other nationwide organization working in this space -- the long-term finance of our places -- and so our voice is unique. Please help us spread this message by making a donation today.