The work of Strong Towns reaches far beyond the edges of your laptop or phone screen. Every day, we hear about Strong Towns members who are taking what they learn from our articles, podcasts and events and putting those ideas into action. Those actions have catalyzed a movement that reaches tens of thousands of people every week.
To give you a sense of just how big that impact is, the map below shows members who've been recently surveyed about the influence of Strong Towns on their lives and in their communities. Below is just the responses from a small slice of our membership; you can imagine how crowded the map would be if we included responses from all 2200+ of our members!
The orange pins will link you to extended stories featured on our site while the blue pins indicate locations where one or more actions have taken place.
Over all, 2/3 of members who responded to the survey said they have taken an action in their city that was inspired by Strong Towns.
Strong Towns members act in big and small ways to share our message and change the conversation about development and growth in their communities. We are so thankful for all that they do. As my colleague Kea discussed yesterday, it's not always easy to see that your small actions are making a difference, but I hope the map above gives you some idea of what these actions add up to.
Below, I want to highlight a few more not-so-obvious ways that Strong Towns members are making a difference.
In 2018, we've heard from several Strong Towns members who are strategically and publicly taking a stand on Strong Towns issues out in their communitie, often in fun and creative ways. While these actions are sometimes small and often temporary, they reach a lot of people and spark important conversations. Here are a couple examples:
- In January, we heard from a Strong Towns member and city councilor who transformed his municipal parking space into a community parklet. Strong Towns members in local leadership positions have a unique opportunity to advocate for Strong Towns principles and Andrew Rodriguez in Walnut, CA really took advantage of that with this public park project.
- In May, we learned that one of our members had inspired her town to take an incremental approach to bike friendliness. Strong Towns member Haile McCollum used a creative art project as part of Strong Towns Public Art Week in 2017 to encourage her town of Thomasville, GA to install bike racks. This year, that public nudge came to fruition.
2018 has been a banner year for Strong Towns' media presence — which is just a fancy way of saying that more and more people are hearing our message and taking it to heart. That's thanks, in huge part, to our members. Here are just two examples of this:
- In February, Strong Towns concepts were used to shine a light on dangerous streets in St. Louis on a local news station. And Strong Towns staffer and St. Louis resident, Kea Wilson, was invited to come on St. Louis Public Radio to talk about the issue further. Without our members incorporating language like "stroad" into their everyday lives and using those instances as teaching moments, our message about the dangers of too-fast streets and the need to #SlowtheCars would not have made the impact that it has. And without member support, we would not have been able to hire incredible staff members like Kea who enable us to reach more audiences with this movement.
- In April, Strong Towns was quoted in the New York Times. We wouldn't have gained prominence as a voice for local economic power without our members sharing our message widely, particularly with broad platforms like the New York Times.
This year, we've made some important connections with strong citizens and leaders across the country who are furthering our message. That wouldn't have happened without our members. Here are three ways we've strengthened vital connections in recent months:
- In January, Strong Towns unveiled a new way to connect with fellow members in your region. Without the input and ideas shared by our members, we would never be able to create these platforms for resources and connection.
- In February Strong Towns joined a team of prominent urban leaders, academics and economists to publicly advocate against Amazon's headquarters search. Without our members discussing important issues like this one, we would not have been able to reach the significant audience that this letter spoke to.
- In March, we stood with North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum to advocate for a focus on Main Street. Strong Towns members — especially those in North Dakota like Gov. Burgum — have taken our message of incremental change and traditional development to heart and they're making it a reality in their state.
This movement can't happen without our members. If you're inspired by this work and count yourself among those people who are working to build strong towns, it's time to make that official by becoming a member today.
(Top photo source: AHOC)