What Would You Do with Five Minutes of Your Mayor's Time?


And now, it's time for a Strong Towns Mad Lib, inspired by messages we frequently receive from members and readers:

"I live in [City], and my [Local Board or Commission] has been talking about [Issue)] in all the wrong ways. Now there's an item on their next meeting agenda to consider [Dumb Idea], and everyone seems to be leaning toward a yes vote. I want to convince [Local Board or Commission] that [Dumb Idea] would be a bad move for our town's future, but am not sure how to get through to them.
I love Strong Towns and I think you're right on the money when you guys say that [Insightful Observation About Our Broken Development Pattern]. But I'm looking for just one article—one the one that really lays out [Complex, Multifaceted Issue] and how we get it wrong because we're not thinking about [Counterintuitive But Correct Observation], and how it can lead to [Harmful Consequence]
I really wish there were just one simple, forceful article I could send to my [Mayor / City Council Person / Neighborhood Association President / Local Chamber of Commerce / Insert Local Leader Here] that explains [Key Principle of Building a Strong Town] in a way that might make them finally get it, or at least start asking some better questions."

Did that resonate with you? Do you know exactly which article you wish we had written, but we haven't (yet), so you could send it to the locally influential people in your circles and maybe start a conversation about a different way of doing things?

The movers and shakers in your city or town are probably busy people, and they probably also have preconceived notions—maybe sound ones, maybe a bit off the mark—about how things ought to look and work. If you're a #StrongCitizen advocate pushing for change in your own place, you doubtless know that sometimes, there's only a narrow window of opportunity to really plant a seed in the right person's mind, and you've got to be ready for it once you have their attention.

So now's your chance. Contact Daniel, our Content Manager, or just comment on this article, to let us know what topic you'd like to see us break down. Which single story or analysis or fact sheet, if we published it, would most help you make a concrete, needed change in your own community?

Alternatively: Are you a talented writer who's passionate about our mission of fiscally sustainable, resilient cities and towns, and do you feel like you would be able to write that article? Or have you already written it, and want to share it with a larger audience? Pitch it to us! We are always looking for guest submissions. Our members and readers are a smart bunch, and your combined wisdom and knowledge is better than anything our staff can come up with alone.

Got a success story to share? Have you been successful in changing someone's mind or nudging your town or neighborhood in the direction of productive, human-scale development, long-term resilience, and/or fiscal stability? We want to know about it, and so do our readers!


In the meantime, to provide inspiration or maybe connect some dots for you in your local efforts to make your town stronger, here are a few things we have written about engaging with leaders in your community to change the conversation:

1. Stop Playing Public Hearing Bingo by Sarah Kobos. Here are a few ideas to make you a more effective—and interesting—public hearing participant.

2. 10 Questions to Ask Someone Running For Local Office by Rachel Quednau. Want to figure out whether a local candidate for public office will uphold Strong Towns principles and values on the job? Ask them these 10 questions.

3. How Renters Can Be Neighborhood Advocates by Rachel Quednau. The perspective of renters is often ignored in neighborhood decision-making. Here are some ideas for how to change that.

 Community members at a town hall meeting. Source: Pixnio.

Community members at a town hall meeting. Source: Pixnio.

Sometimes, the person you most need to convince isn't in government at all. Local business owners can have significant sway over urban design decisions and neighborhood politics. Read more here:

4. How to Win Over Merchants by Adam Greenfield. Here are 5 key ways to get local business owners on your side--whether you're putting together a neighborhood event or advocating for a change in street design.

Finally, are you on the other side of the dais? A local elected official or on the staff of your local government? Check out:

5. How to Do Real Public Engagement by Dana DeMaster. Yes, it's possible to have a community meeting where resident voices are heard, while experts and professionals get their say as well. Here are several tips for how to do that.

(Top image source: Wikimedia Commons.)