Humility and How it Can Help You Get Neighborhood-Boosting Ideas


Want to better your community but don’t know where to start? Enter It’s the Little Things: a weekly Strong Towns podcast that gives you the wisdom and encouragement you need to take the small yet powerful actions that can make your city or town stronger.

It’s the Little Things features Strong Towns Community Builder Jacob Moses in conversation with various guests who have taken action in their own places and in their own ways.

Take a moment to think about the last time you took a walk through your neighborhood. What did you notice?

You likely noticed some good, such as budding flowers or friends hanging out outside a local theater. On the contrary, you likely noticed the struggles others face navigating daily life in your neighborhood as well: a gentleman still standing at the bus stop after you had coffee with a friend; a woman walking through tall grass to get to the grocery; or a senior citizen understandably hesitant to cross the road as the crosswalk signal begins its countdown.

It’s these moments that invite you to humble yourself, put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and—together with them—generate an idea that takes the next incremental step in filling these voids in your neighborhood.

At Strong Towns, we believe that acts of humble observation and incremental action are the key to building strong cities, towns, and neighborhoods. This episode’s guest is none other than Strong Towns President Chuck Marohn. A few years ago in his hometown of Brainerd, Minnesota, Chuck set out to observe how his neighbors lived and identify small investments that could almost immediately improve their experience of getting around and living in their neighborhood. He documented the results in his Neighborhoods First Report.

The ideas will come easy: Our neighbor has trouble getting to the grocery on foot—let’s add a sidewalk! Our neighbor has trouble crossing the road—let’s add a crosswalk. However, as many strong citizens—those doing the little things to make their city, town, or neighborhood stronger—have learned, several obstacles usually follow.

Maybe the idea exists in a silo. Maybe you’ve had trouble partnering with public officials. Or maybe your neighbors see the vision but not the next incremental step (a common obstacle for concerned citizens and public officials alike who want to deliver a grand solution).

Chuck shares how you can overcome these obstacles, preserving the humble perspective that generates the most effective ideas while casting the vision to your neighbors, colleagues, or public officials.

No matter your role in your city—concerned citizen, public official—you want to do what you can to make your neighborhood stronger. And in this episode, you’ll learn the right perspective and action to make it happen.

(Top photo via PICRYL.)