How Strong Towns Inspires Smaller Cities to Reclaim Their Own Destinies


I used to drive by an empty lot and think it was an empty lot. Now I drive by an empty lot and think, “What could go there?” And you’ve helped us realize it doesn’t sometimes take a lot of money. It doesn’t mean you have to have the government leading it. Regular people, in communities, can make a difference.
— Quint Studer

Strong Towns founder and president Chuck Marohn first visited Pensacola, Florida in October of 2017 to deliver a Curbside Chat. To our delight, he not only filled up a local theater, but 5,000 people watched a live stream of the presentation hosted by the Pensacola News-Journal. And it got a lot of them talking.

Since then, we’ve acquired quite an enthusiastic following in Pensacola, which led only a year and a half later to a successful bid to win our fourth annual Strongest Town Contest. (We’ll be officially presenting Pensacola with their award later this year.) In this video, Chuck Marohn sits down with Quint Studer, a Pensacola businessman, philanthropist, and the author of Building a Vibrant Community: How Citizen-Powered Change is Reshaping America. Studer interviews Marohn about the origins of Strong Towns and the nature of the movement for change that we are building, including:

  • How Strong Towns began as a voice in the wilderness at a time when the destinies of many cities—especially small and medium-sized ones—seemed to be slipping out of their control.

  • The Strong Towns Strength Test, and the questions we urge cities to ask themselves about whether they are pursuing changes that will make them more financially strong and resilient.

  • How a hyper-efficient but fragile model of development favors chains and puts small, locally-owned businesses at a disadvantage.

  • Why we’re experiencing diminishing returns on the money we spend on transportation infrastructure, and we need a new approach.

  • How the Strong Towns approach unleashes the entrepreneurial and creative energies of a city’s own residents to create real, lasting wealth and prosperity.