This is the last day of our member drive. In the immortal words of Johnny Reed, "We've got a long way to go and a short time to get there." Our goal is to grow this movement to #2000Strong. Help this important message reach more people by becoming one of our first 2,000 members. 

Our member meetup last night

Our member meetup last night

I gave a lecture yesterday at the 65th Annual Conference on the Economic Outlook at the University of Michigan. This was a gathering of economists, finance officers and others from Michigan public policy circles. I pulled no punches in my talk. It's always amazing to me when people who routinely work in numbers eight, nine and even ten digits long on behalf of the public are surprised by the core Strong Towns message. I showed them our classic Taco John's analysis and they were stunned. My friends, we have so much urgent work to do!

After the lecture, Bo Wright (our Development Director) and I went over to our Strong Towns member/reader meetup. We had ten Strong Towns fans RSVP, but 25 showed up. Way to represent, Michigan! One kind woman drove two hours to be there; that was very humbling. On the way to our accommodations in downtown Detroit, Bo remarked to me how engaged our members are, how they grasp our strategy and always want to talk about our work to grow the movement. It's an observation I share. You all are amazing!

And speaking of amazing members.... Probably our most frequent request from our members is for us to develop a platform where members and others interested in Strong Towns (let's optimistically call them "future members") can connect with each other. I've wanted to do this for a long time, but privacy concerns and other technical barriers have kept it from floating up to the top of this list. This week in a member discussion on our Slack platform, we talked about it and developed an easy, cheap and I think very effective way to make this happen. I'm really excited; look for that before the end of the year.

Watch an example of the Curbside Chat, from an event in Lacey, Washington

Don't Keep it to Yourself

This week, someone asked us: 

"Why do I need to become a member in order to get the Strong Towns message to spread farther? Can't I just share the stuff more (and get other people sharing it) and won't that accomplish this goal with no donation needed?"

Years ago when people first started recording our core presentation, the Curbside Chat, and sharing it on YouTube, there were some among our leadership (they're not here anymore) who argued that we should stop them, that it would hurt the organization's revenue because people wouldn't pay to have us come give the presentation if they could get it somewhere for free. My argument, and the view of our current board, is that people sharing our presentation was great. If everyone in North America went to YouTube and watched the Curbside Chat today (which you can do right now if you want) and then decided they were going to follow a Strong Towns approach in their community, we could close shop here and be done.

That's not a problem; that's victory. 

There is only one thing we really ask of people who are inspired by our message: share it with someone else. I say that at the end of the Curbside Chat. We say it on every episode of our podcast. Don't keep it to yourself; pass it on. If that is the extent of what you can do to spread the Strong Towns message, please do it. You'll have my gratitude. If everyone did that, we could change the world in an instant. It would be beautiful.

Of course, it doesn't actually work that way. There are dozens of versions of the Curbside Chat online, yet we still get multiple requests per week for me to travel somewhere and share it live with people. We're booking events as far out as September 2018 right now. All this for a presentation you can go watch for free right now. It still takes a lot of work to get our message out.

So you don't need to become a member if you want to spread this message. To the person who asked this question: you're right. You can do it on your own and have a big impact. Most of our members are actually out there doing this now. They are evangelists for the Strong Towns cause just like we are.

A recent Strong Towns event in Santa Ana, California (Source: AHOC)

A recent Strong Towns event in Santa Ana, California (Source: AHOC)

The Difference Members Make

But what separates our members from the occasional readers and listeners is their desire to have this message spread beyond what they themselves are capable of doing. Membership provides us with a stable base of financial support. If affirms that we are moving in the right direction, that we're taking the right steps to build a movement. It gives us the capacity to reach more people with a message that is continually improving.

With the support of 2,000 members, in 2018 we plan to:

  • Expand our content in a number of strategic ways, including adding more writers, more perspectives and more topics. Our content goal for 2018 is to improve our ability to nudge people to take action based on our message.
  • Reach more people with the Curbside Chat, particularly places that cannot afford to host a Chat, places where an exchange of ideas and perspectives would not only benefit a distressed place but improve our understanding of the world.
  • Improve our ability to reach people across different platforms and spaces, with a special emphasis on maintaining our ideological diversity.
  • Get our message — which is ready for prime time — into major media publications and in front of key influencers.
  • Bring people together to learn about and discuss Strong Towns' principles and actions at a series of regional gatherings and issue summits.
  • Provide support resources to our members and a growing movement of people who want to take local action based on Strong Towns ideals.
  • And much, much more.

Let's make a final push today to get to 2000. We can do it. And then we'll continue to do great things together.

Thank you, everyone, members and non-members alike, for being part of our conversation and helping us share this message with others. Keep doing what you can to build a Strong Town.

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