A preview of coming attractions

This is the last day of our Give to the Max fundraising. Many thanks to those of you that have been so generous. We're hoping in this final day to encourage the rest of you to become part of the Strong Towns movement.

I promised earlier in the week a preview of things we have in the works here at Strong Towns. For those that have been financial supporters prior to this week, there will be few, if any, surprises. We hold conference call briefings and send out insider emails to our backers giving them an insider's look at what we're working on as well priority access to events (see below). Another little bonus that comes along with a donation to Strong Towns.

The following are all things we are working on. I've provided tentative release dates with a clear understanding that, based on time and resources, things could change.

  • Curbside Chats. We're going to continue the Curbside Chat program into 2012 and (likely) beyond. Right now we have Chats scheduled for Maryland, Iowa, Wisconsin, Florida, South Dakota, North Dakota and, of course, Minnesota. I submitted four or five speaker proposals for APA 2012 in Los Angeles and, if we are selected for any of those, we're going to be contacting our many friends in California and making some stops there. If you are interested in hosting a Chat in your community, please sign up and we'll get a hold of you.
  • Virtual Curbside Chat. Sometime in early December we will be holding a Virtual Curbside Chat, a web event where we'll go through the Curbside Chat presentation and then do some online chatting. Our space is limited and so we'll be giving our donors the first chance to sign up before we announce it here on the blog and through our email newsletter. Another good excuse to become a supporter of Strong Towns.
  • SID.tv We started in 2008 with the Strong Towns blog. Last year we added the Strong Towns podcast. In early 2012 we plan to launch See It Differently (SID) tv. I'm going to leave the details kind of fuzzy at this point so as to keep some suspense, but SID.tv is a video blog designed to help us all look at our places differently, through a set of Strong Towns eyes.
  • Misunderstanding Mobility. Next week we're going to go back to the diverging diamond discussion and, in doing so, am going to give you a little bit of a preview on the thoughts and ideas going into our next booklet, of which the working title currently is "Misunderstanding Mobility". Like our Curbside Chat booklet, the MM project will be formatted for local government officials. We're trying to give them the tools -- and the Strong Towns rationale -- to demand a different approach to surface transportation within their communities. The tentative release is set for Winter 2012.
  • Road/Street Standards. To follow the Misunderstanding Mobility narrative -- which should have local officials saying, "We want to do something different." -- we plan to provide those key tools for retrofitting a local street system. Now lots of places have done road and street standards. We're not going to try and recreate that work, but instead combine the best and put a Strong Towns spin on them so that cities and towns can actually adopt these new standards and implement them. This is all about getting it done. The tentative release is set for Spring/Early Summer 2012.
  • Strong Towns Network. We're going to start rolling this out soon (like in the next couple of weeks for our donors) and I really am not prepared to reveal a lot about it today except to say this: We are inundated with people who say things like, "Chuck, this is all great, but you're depressing me. How do we actually DO something, IMPLEMENT something, that is going to make things better." We are also inundated with people writing for help with turning their old economy project into a Strong Towns project, one that adds value over the long-term. Well, we don't have all the answers -- there are no simple answers -- but we're building a platform that is designed to help us collectively figure it out. This is really exciting -- much more very soon.
  • Strong Towns Boot Camp. Something we've been working on -- the idea of a one day crash course in Strong Towns thinking -- got accelerated by a team of friends and supporters in Maryland that called us requesting that we put on a Boot Camp there. We're working to put that event together in January 2012 and, assuming all goes well, we would look to repeat this in other parts of the country. We're going to be looking at things like how to boost the public's return on investment, analyzing the long term costs and benefits of a project, updating your land use and other regulatory codes to capture value, using a parks and open space strategy to improve financial resiliency, how to speak with the language of Strong Towns (for a lesson on that today, listen to our latest podcast) and more. No firm date beyond the Maryland Boot Camp. If you are affiliated with an organization that may want to sponsor a Boot Camp, send an inquiry email to Justin Burslie. (We're not looking for a financial sponsor, just an organization that can assist with logistics.)

If this all sounds like a lot, understand two things. First, we plan to do this in addition to continuing to publish this blog three days a week AND continuing to produce a weekly podcast. Second, we're doing all of this currently with volunteers and a single, half-time employee (because that is all we have the budget for).

There are hundreds -- perhaps thousands -- of non-profit organizations out there doing a fraction of this amount of work, reaching a tiny percentage of the people we are reaching with budgets that exceed ours by many times. We have a message that is resonating (again, check out the latest podcast to see the impact it had on a true skeptic), crosses all social and political boundaries and provides a real American alternative to our current economic stagnation and decline. 

Strong Towns, the organization, is a high return on your investment. And we could do so much more if we had the financial backing. Please consider making a donation today.

And for you hard core supporters that have made it through five days of fundraising this week all the way to the end of this blog post, here's a special treat from my very close friend Justin (of podcast fame). His Give to the Max video is a really special tour of the inner workings of the Strong Towns complex. Enjoy! And give Justin some love -- he makes this place work and I owe him a ton more than the occasional pizza we split. Thanks Justin.