A little over nine years ago, I started writing about our cities and towns’ most urgent financial struggles. After a while, I decided to share my work online. At first, it was simply an exercise designed to give voice to my lingering thoughts – and a few doubts – about the future of the communities we love. Little did I know so many others around the world would have similar thoughts waiting to be set free.
Our Board of Directors have long been intellectual collaborators on this project. We realized early on the enormous scale of the problem we were wrestling with – literally the development pattern of an entire continent – and the comparatively meager resources we had to address it. And we realized that this meant we were not going to be able to function like a normal non-profit. We had to be radically different.
Instead of an organization, we needed to start and grow a movement for change. We needed to reach people with a universal message that empowered them to think differently about their places. We had to build a movement of people who believed in a better vision of the future and were ready to step forward and do what they could to make that vision a reality.
We didn’t know if this strategy would work. In the early days, it seemed like a long shot. I spent hours writing posts that were read by only a handful of people. I traveled long distances to share our message one small meeting room at a time. Then we started to get traction and things really took off.
This year, the Strong Towns movement has reached over a million people through our website. I shared our message in person with thousands of people at over thirty events across North America. Our ideas have been quoted hundreds of times in other publications and we’ve consistently documented stories of our ideas being put into action by the members of our movement. We now have over 2,000 supporting members, which has given us a stable financial base heading into 2018. In short: our strategy is showing significant results.
When Strong Towns began, our biggest challenge was reaching enough people. Now, our greatest problem is that we can’t keep up with the demand. Every day, we are asked to create more content, take part in more events, and engage more people than we have the bandwith to do with our small staff. This is simply a resource problem, one that – with your help – we are taking steps to address.
Heading into our tenth year, I’ve never been more optimistic about the changes we see happening. Thank you for your support and, please, keep doing what you can to build strong towns.
All the best,
Charles L. Marohn, Jr. PE AICP
President | Founder