Bringing the Message to You: Highlights From Strong Towns Events in 2018

Albemarle County, VA • Anaheim, CA • Baltimore, MD • Billings, MT • Bismarck, ND • Boerne, TX • Boston, MA • Brainerd, MN • Cedar City, UT • Cedar Creek, TX • Chattanooga, TN • Colorado Springs, CO • Conway, AR • Detroit, MI • Erie, PA • Fergus Falls, MN • Fishers, IN • Fort Worth, TX • Halifax, NS • Harvard University, Cambridge, MA • Huntsville, AL • Hutchinson, KS • Indianapolis, IN • Kansas City, KS • Kansas City, MO • Kennett Square, PA • Mashpee, MA • Muskegon, MI • New Orleans, LA • Peoria, IL • Phoenix, AZ • Plano, TX • Savannah, GA • Sioux Falls, SD • St. Cloud, MN • Thomasville, GA • Thompsonville, MI • West Palm Beach, FL • Wichita, KS • Wickenburg, AZ

What do the above places have in common? They’re all places where we’ve shared the Strong Towns message through our events this year.

A recent email we sent to our mailing list posed the (rhetorical) question, “Why on earth is Strong Towns trying to change the way the world is built by writing articles?” It’s rhetorical because we’ve spent this week telling you how much we really do believe that our content can be a catalyst for change—and we see it, every day, in the way it inspires Strong Citizens to go out and take action to make their communities stronger.

But it’s important to remember that here at Strong Towns, we do much more than just write about the unproductive development patterns we see. Every year, we take our observations face to face with citizens, community leaders, and public officials. We host dozens upon dozens of events across the continent every year. This is where we are able to get on the ground, reach people in their own towns, and share our message.

Chuck Marohn changes the way you see your city. For the weeks after hearing his talk, I couldn’t look at a city block without thinking about his ideas.

From St. Cloud to Huntsville to Halifax, our team has been relentlessly spreading the Strong Towns message as far as we can through more than 39 speaking events and 61 presentations this year. We’ve been invited to cities big and small to share the Strong Towns message. Our small but growing staff helps make this happen, but the real reason we’ve been able to host more events than ever this year is because of the dedication of our members.

When we get invitations to host these events, we see ourselves as having been invited into the neighborhoods and homes of citizens working hard to put our thoughts into practice. And lots of them have made that invitation; in 2018 alone, we have been welcomed by local Chambers of Commerce, economic development organizations, city officials, and so many more, simply to present the Strong Towns mission.

A Few Highlights From 2018

In one new highlight this year, the Strong Towns message is reaching university level planning and policy students. After Chuck spoke at the Harvard Law Forum we were told one attendee that “Chuck Marohn changes the way you see your city. For the weeks after hearing his talk, I couldn't look at a city block without thinking about his ideas.”

Chuck also spoke this year at the International City/County Management Association’s annual conference in Baltimore, MD. Their response amazed us, and solidified our suspicion that we’re increasingly being recognized within the ranks of those responsible for municipal finances as an important voice pointing out uncomfortable truths about the financial state and future of our local governments.

As always, we were a prominent presence at the annual Congress for the New Urbanism, this year held in Savannah, Georgia in May.

And we also tried something new: in October, we hosted a regional gathering in Plano, Texas—two days full of speakers and workshops to help Strong Citizens in and around North Texas become better equipped to tackle issues specific to their region. We hope to take the experience gained in Texas and apply it in 2019 as we plan ever more ways to connect Strong Citizens with each other and help them change the conversation in their own regions.

What’s a “Pathfinder” Anyway?

As the Strong Towns Pathfinder, I get to sit in the special seat of answering all of our event inquiries. Usually, when I ask someone what made them want to call us, the answer is because of a great story they heard about Strong Towns. It is always an honor to look back and see the list of towns that have invited us to present our message, and to think of how many of them were inspired by other event hosts to offer us that invitation. To us, this is more than just a plane ride and a Powerpoint of a Curbside Chat.

In the last year, our events have only grown. In 2018, we presented the Strong Towns message in person to over 8,000 people from diverse backgrounds and professions.

Strong Towns members are the power behind our message. They keep it going by sharing it online and in person. Very often it’s a member that starts the ball rolling on organizing a Strong Towns speaking event in their town. Our members are out presenting at city council meetings, sharing articles, and doing everything they can to expand the reach of the Strong Towns message.

Strong Towns members are a special breed of passionate, motivated individuals ready to see change in the world. Does that describe you? Are you ready to join the movement? It’s the enthusiasm and follow-through of committed Strong Towns members that are the real heart and soul of our work.

Take that step to strengthen your commitment to the Strong Towns mission by becoming a member.