How Strong Towns Helped This Duo Make a Difference in their Community

Strong Towns members, Michael and Jen Smith, moved to Rockford, IL in 2012 because they loved the historic homes, the neighborhood amenities and the community there. Soon after they arrived, they also found that there was work to be done to make Rockford a stronger town—streets that were unsafe to cross, local business owners that faced regulatory hurdles, a neighborhood school that was being closed...

They recently wrote on their blog, CitySmiths, about the impact of the Strong Towns movement on that work:

Somewhere along the line, we started reading Strong Towns articles. And it very quickly became apparent that we weren't crazy, and we weren't alone. The things we were seeing in Rockford were true in many places across the country, and there were other people who felt the way we do, and wanted to do something about it. There were clear, straightforward answers to the questions we'd been asking about our own city, words to put to the feelings we had about the decisions we saw being made, evidence and examples to show that there IS another way. We couldn't get enough!

All of a sudden it wasn't just a water bill increase, it was another crack in the facade of the 70 year Ponzi scheme that is our water system. It wasn't just a "road improvement", it was highway engineering imposed on a city neighborhood with predictable results of speeding, danger, and further neighborhood deterioration. It wasn't just a sewer project, it was the inevitable result of a failed (or absent) land-use policy, with the additional insult of utter disregard for the long-planned, long-overdue inclusion of pedestrian and bicycle consideration (this example to be further explained in a future post).

Strong Towns has allowed us to powerfully leverage one of greatest things about Rockford -- armed with data, clear and helpful examples, respect, kindness, and a whole lotta enthusiasm, you can get to people who make decisions about the future of our city, and actually make a BIG difference in how those decisions play out.

We're not professionals, we're not elected officials, but we care deeply about the trajectory of budgets, planning, and development in Rockford, and the lessons we have learned through the content that Strong Towns creates and shares, the networking we have done with members from across the nation, has given us the confidence to speak to the issues that keep us up at night (well, keep ME up at night...Michael is better at setting things aside when his head hits the pillow...)

So it is with incredible excitement that we announce that Chuck Marohn, Founder and President of Strong Towns, will be here in Rockford on August 29-30, to present and participate a full slate of activities, all of which are FREE, and all of which are open to the public.

We're excited to be bringing the Strong Towns message to Rockford too. You can find information about this unique multi-day event right here.

(All photos courtesy of Michael and Jen Smith)

Thank you to Michael and Jen Smith for working to make theirs a Strong Town.

If you'd like to help build more Strong Towns,
please join the movement by becoming a member today.