Ryan W. from Chicago asks:

Is there an RSS feed for the Blog?

Good question. For some reason our Squarespace template doesn't make the feed obvious. Here it is; I'll try to add it to the footer so it's there permanently.

Andrew B. from Minneapolis (yeah!!!) asks:

Hello, Following Strong Towns for years definitely had a part in me not wanting to sit by and watch this new park being designed in downtown Minneapolis be bisected by a county road. Your message that we can build better places encouraged me to push back against Hennepin County and start a petition to demand a better public space. Thanks for the inspiration Strong Towns! :D 

Thank you. We're always humbled when people join the movement and take action to make their place better. Our members are like that. You rock.

P.S. I signed your petition.

Richard B. from St. Louis asks:

What do you say to someone who views their car as a means of protection from crime, either the physical metal itself, and/or the long distance/barrier to entry/highways as physical barriers to keep criminals (who are certainly poor) away from them. Telling them how dangerous driving is doesn't phase them, nor the expense of building places with this "protection" feature, they say they gladly pay. The idea of being a victim of a crime is worse. 

Last year when the Ebola virus was dominating the media and paralyzing a certain segment of the population, there was a great article in the Atlantic about the psychology of irrational fear. This experience is something we all share to one degree or another. While it isn't "normal" in the sense that such fears are "irrational", it is normal in that we all have some irrational fear. We're all afraid of something that we shouldn't be.

I grew up in a small town and -- I will acknowledge -- had an irrational fear of cities. It was based on stories I had heard, news reports I watched and the general apprehension of people in my "tribe" who likewise felt anxiety about large cities (they had also chosen to live in a small town after all). Today I love large cities. How did I get over my irrational fear? I experienced large cities and found my fear to be unfounded.

From that Atlantic article:

We feel more imperiled when we feel physically vulnerable. People who think they are in poor health, regardless of whether they actually are, also feel like they are more likely to be victimized by criminals. The fear-mongering around Ebola on cable news is especially damaging because anxiety tends to breed more anxiety: The threat of contamination can lead to “mass psychogenic illness” in which people avoid things like gluten, vaccines, or windmills, simply because others do.

So if people are doing irrational things simply because others do, the response is pretty simple: be one of the people who does the thing that people fear. Be someone people follow and emulate. If Richard can be outside of a car in that neighborhood, then I can to. Invite people to walk with you, to be part of that experience. If you want to take it a step further, do it boldly and let others know. Update your Facebook page from those places people irrationally fear. Enjoying a nice walk on _____ street - grabbed a great Mountain Dew at the store here. 

Don't condemn people for their irrational fears. It won't help them and it won't change things. Acknowledge their fear, let them know it runs counter to your experience and then demonstrate that through your actions. Encourage others to do likewise. Remember, people used to have irrational fears about cars too. We can undo this, but only by adding to the number of people demonstrating an alternative.

Scott R. from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, asks:

How do I go about forming a chapter here in Lancaster, PA? BTW I am an elected Township Supervisor and we have been applying these principles for the last few year in East Hempfield Townhip, Lancaster County, PA. I am trying to encourage other Supervisors to do the same for their Townships.

I apologize for not getting back to you sooner. Your Ask Strong Towns question came amid a rather vigorous internal discussion here at Strong Towns. We're all on board with raising the money to move ahead on this. It won't be chapters, per se, but we have a commitment to helping people organize locally and then equip them, as best we can, to take action.

I apologize that we can't be more organized and directed on this right now. We punch far, far above our weight class, but there are limits to what two guys and a $200k budget can accomplish. Stick with us - we'll get there.

And in the meantime, nobody is going to stop you from getting something started on your own. Chaotic but smart. I'll help you where I can so keep us in the loop.