Chuck Marohn had the chance to interview several Strong Towns members together at CNU24 in Detroit. They share their backgrounds and how they came to be members of Strong Towns:
Mayor Jill Dabbs from Bryant, AR. "The responsibility I'm challenged with as mayor is how to avoid making the same mistakes that America has made over and over again. We have a blank slate; we're kind of a new town."
Kevin Barton from San Antonio, TX. "I was career airforce...I spent my time in Asia, Europe, and Central America... I was living in Germany in a small village and you could walk everywhere. I rode a bike to work. When I came back to the US, my wife and I were living in the suburban area of San Antonio, but she had a business in a more urban area. We ended up buying a house two blocks from the store... That concept of walkability was one of our priorities. Somewhere in there, we started reading Strong Towns and it really gave us the perspective to be able to make the business case for it."
Marielle Brown from St. Louis, MO. "There are beautiful parts of my city. We have beautiful architecture...amazing parks...one transit line that's good. But we also have a lot of serious issues. St. Louis is similar to Detroit in many ways. We actually lost a higher percentage of our population than Detroit. In Detroit people acknowledge the issues, but our leadership in St. Louis has trouble admitting that we're struggling."
Ian Bost, from Ann Arbor, MI (originally from Detroit). "There are valid critical points about Detroit in terms of race and opportunity for everyone, not just the new people moving in. We do need people to move back in. But a lot of the businesses are very high-end and catering to an upper class market...I think [Detroit] probably already lost a lot of its blue collar nature. It's got to reinvent itself."
Andy Walker, from Detroit, MI. "I moved away from Detroit for a while... Every year I would come back to visit my parents in the area and it was a pretty painful experience, because every year you would see it get worse. And I thought, Man, I would really like to be part of the solution if it ever comes around. So that was really the motivation [for moving back]."