A few months ago, when we first started thinking about how we could use the release of the Strong Towns book to get the Strong Towns message in front of as many people as possible, we had the idea of putting together a little book tour. Chuck Marohn and some of the other board and staff would go on the road, not just to promote the book but also to talk about the Strong Towns approach of developing stronger, more resilient, and better connected communities.
So we put out the word that we were looking for tour stops, expecting a few dozen invitations. But that’s not what happened. Instead, we were blown away as hundreds upon hundreds of requests came pouring in from every corner of the United States and Canada.
This had two immediate effects.
First, it personalized the reach of the Strong Towns movement in a way page views and podcast downloads never could. Digital metrics are easy to measure, but they can easily obscure what lies behind them: real people in real places. From suburban Seattle to rural Minnesota, from New York and D.C. to Santa Ana and L.A., and from British Columbia to Ontario—we heard from folks who had been working diligently and creatively for years to make their own communities more livable and more lovable. As our inboxes were filled with invitations, our team was filled in equal measure with gratitude and humility.
That river of invitations—which has never really stopped—had another effect: it caused us to revise up our plans for the tour.
We believe the Strong Towns book and all those tour requests signal an inflection point for the movement. And we decided to lean into it. Our “little book tour” is now the Strong America Tour, encompassing approximately 50 stops between now and the end of 2019—with still more events in the works for 2020.
Not only did we increase the number of events, we expanded the tour in other ways too. We don’t want to just get out and talk about the Strong Towns vision. We want to capture firsthand how members of the movement are bringing that vision to life in their own cities. So we have committed to publish at least one piece of local-specific content—an article or blog post, a social media post, podcast or video—about every community we visit. We want to introduce the placemaker in Maryland to the good things happening in Texas.
The Strong America Tour kicks off in earnest this week in Memphis. Dozens of events follow. We invite you to connect with the tour in multiple ways.
We’d like to meet you in person at one of our events. Are we coming close to where you live?
If the Strong America Tour isn’t currently scheduled to be in your area, are you interested in organizing an event of your own? There are still a few dates available in 2019 and 2020. You can find out more about how to do that here.
We really do encourage you to follow along with the local content being produced by and for the different communities along our route. Seeing the Strong Towns movement contextualized in so many different places, with endless diversity and ingenuity, will be both encouraging and informative.
There is one principle that underlies this whole tour, and it is this: You are the movement. Chuck and the rest of the Strong Towns team are understandably proud and excited for the Strong Towns book and Strong America Tour; we hope you are too. But we are constantly amazed at how you are enacting the movement in your own city or town. It really does feel like a revolution.
Top photo via Unsplash.