Today is the fourth day of our member drive. On Monday I shared our passion for this message and showed what a huge demand there is for our work . On Tuesday I explained the problem we're trying to solve; the need to change our cultural conversation around growth and development. Yesterday, I talked about how we're taking that on, how our focus on growing a movement of people is the only approach that measures up to the challenge we face.
I am going to ask you today, once again, to join us. Become one of the first 2,000 members of Strong Towns, one of the #2000Strong. But first, let me show you what our change movement looks like.
Here are the 1,750 members we have as of yesterday. This is where they live. These are the communities they care about. This map blows me away.
To be clear, this map shows that we have members in every U.S. state. We have members across Canada, Europe, Australia, Mexico and even one member in Southeast Asia (you are awesome, by the way). This is not our readership. This is not our podcast listeners. These are the people who have said: The Strong Towns message is so important, I want more people to hear it and so I'm going to become a member. These people are the reason I get up every day excited about what we do.
Here's a map of just our North American members. Put that image through your left/right, urban/rural, coastal/flyover preconception of the country.
It just doesn't compute with the way we think about America today. Especially when we think about people agreeing on complex and deeply personal issues.
These are our members and, each day that goes by, they look more and more like America.
I'm an engineer and a planner from a Norwegian farm family in rural Minnesota. In the last nine years, on behalf of the Strong Towns movement, I've visited places and conversed with people who I never would have otherwise met. I've learned about them and their lives. What I've found has deeply affected me.
I've been in Little Havana in South Florida and I've been all the way north to the neighborhoods of Detroit (where I am headed today). I've been in rural California and I've spoken in Los Angeles and San Diego. I've been in Virginia one week and New York City the next. I toured Texas and Oklahoma, Idaho and Pennsylvania.
I've shared the Strong Towns message at elite eastern colleges including M.I.T., Yale, Boston University, Smith College and New York University. I've shared the same message in lectures at my alma mater, the University of Minnesota, as well as at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, Kansas State, Marquette, Boise State and the University of Oklahoma. If you attended one of these events, you know how amazing they were—and if you'd had the chance to sit in, I promise you would have left with endless optimism about our future.
I've spoken at city council meetings in places big and small. I've met with professionals, activists and people who simply care about a place. I've gotten huge ovations from Tea Party activists and huge ovations from groups of environmentalists. That's the message we're sharing.
Last month in Pensacola, Florida, I was invited to kick off an amazing speaker series called CivicCon. I gave a presentation to over 400 people in a packed house. It was electric. When we were done, a long line of people waited to chat with me one-on-one. I talked to them all, but the last people I spoke with particularly moved me.
A young couple — husband and wife, an engineer and a PhD candidate respectively — who, demographically speaking, were nothing like me—asked me to explain why the poor neighborhoods in our towns often perform so much better than the wealthy ones, financially. They got it; they just wanted to hear me say it again. We swapped stories and talked about the future. And when that beautiful moment ended, it occurred to me how lucky I am to have made that connection, one I never would have made without Strong Towns.
Strong Towns is a tough, tough message to spread. But when we do, it unites people in a way that truly brings out the best in them. Of everything we do, I'm perhaps most proud of that.
Today we're sharing stories of success and focusing on the impact our message is having on real people and real places. If you find yourself inspired by it all, it's time to become a member. The way you support this movement, the way you help us get this message in front of more people, is to become one of the #2000Strong.
And before we go, I want to add one more thing. It can be little overwhelming for me to try to apply our message to places beyond the the United States; the dysfunction we have here is broad enough to keep me writing for a lifetime. Yet I've also spoken in Canada many times — I'll be in Montreal at the end of this month — and I've grown to appreciate how much of our development pattern the United States has been exported to the north. The last time I was in Europe was before I had kids (my first daughter was born in 2003), and, at that time, I witnessed the beginnings of what would grow into the European housing bubble, especially in places like Ireland where the American development approach was becoming a sad appendage to a lot of great small towns.
So I just want to share my amazement at this map of our European members. Again, this is not our website audience. It's a map of our members — people who support us financially, who want to see this message spread enough that they are willing to help pay a little to make it happen.
Well, it's spreading, all right. I know a lot of our work has been translated into other languages over the years but, my friends, this is still really humbling to see. Thank you, very sincerely. Let's try and make that European Strong Towns tour a reality in 2018. I'm all in.