Thank you to everyone who donated to Strong Towns on Give to the Max Day. Even when people donate just a dollar, I feel like it is that woman from the biblical parable who gave her last coin -- it is very humbling to be on the receiving end of so much generosity. We're going to continue to work as hard as we can to be worthy of the support you've shown. Thank you, everyone.
And it's not too late to contribute to the Strong Towns movement during our fundraising week.
Today I planned to touch on some of the things we have in the works -- a preview of coming attractions -- but instead have to share with you an experience from yesterday.
I was invited on a local radio show here in my hometown of Brainerd hosted by council member and long-time community leader Mary Koep. Years ago one colleague of mine said that, "nobody has done more to damage the Brainerd Lakes area than Mary Koep." From his perspective -- that of an advocate for better local planning -- she'd probably take that as a compliment.
Mary Koep is nothing if not anti-planning. My colleagues in the planning profession who cringe or roll their eyes when someone in a crowd brings up "Agenda 21", or the alleged aim of every planner to herd people into high rise apartments so as to save tree frogs, will know the type. Koep would proudly say she is pro-freedom, pro-automobile, pro-American Dream. She embodies most of the stereotypes you would associate with an old, crabby, penny-pinching Scrooge type of person.
On my way to the station I found myself reflecting on a lesson from Paul Wellstone. While I'm not a Democrat and never voted for him, I've found him personally to be a very inspiring person. In this case, I was reflecting on his relationship with Strom Thurmond, a very conservative Republican senator.
When Wellstone went to the Senate he was part of a younger generation and he, by his own admission, brought with him a lot of personal hostility and animosity towards people like Strom Thurmond. Initially Wellstone was actually quite rude to Thurmond, using very personal rhetoric from his flame-throwing protestor days whenever they would oppose each other on one vote of another. As time went on, though, Wellstone indicated that he changed his approach, became more "senatorial" and worked to find some common ground with Thurmond.
While you'd be hard pressed to find a time when Wellstone compromised his core principles, he was able to set hostility aside and actually find a person in Thurmond -- and many other conservatives -- that he could work with.
This is the spirit I entered the broadcast booth with; setting aside the generational animosity and hostility (and trust me, I have plenty in this case) and instead finding a way to draw on shared experiences and values to make a larger point on how we can make Brainerd a Strong Town.
And when the program was over and Mary turned to me and said, "I kind of like you," I have to admit that the feeling at that moment was kind of mutual.
One more day in our fundraising week. Please do what you can to help us out here with spreading this message. Next week we'll get back to regular programming, but for this week, let's all Give to the Max.