I'm the founder of Strong Towns, a national nonpartisan nonprofit trying to save cities from financial ruin.
Header: "I'm the founder of Strong Towns, a national nonpartisan nonprofit trying to save cities from financial ruin."
My name is Chuck Marohn, and I am part of (founder of, but really, it’s grown way beyond me and so I’m part of) the Strong Towns movement, an effort on the part of thousands of individuals to make their communities financially resilient and prosperous. I’m a husband, a father, a civil engineer and planner, and the author of two books about why North American cities are going bankrupt and what to do about it.
Strong Towns: The Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity (https://www.strongtowns.org/strong-towns-book) Confessions of a Recovering Engineer: Transportation for a Strong Town (http://confessions.engineer)
How do I know that cities and towns like yours are going broke? I got started down the Strong Towns path after I helped move one city towards financial ruin back in the 1990’s, just by doing my job. (https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2019/7/1/my-journey-from-free-market-ideologue-to-strong-towns-advocate) As a young engineer, I worked with a city that couldn’t afford $300,000 to replace 300 feet of pipe. To get the job done, I secured millions of dollars in grants and loans to fund building an additional 2.5 miles of pipe, among other expansion projects.
I fixed the immediate problem, but made the long-term situation far worse. Where was this city, which couldn’t afford to maintain a few hundred feet of pipe, going to get the funds to fix or replace a few miles of pipe when the time came? They weren’t.
Sadly, this is how communities across the United States and Canada have worked for decades. Thanks to a bunch of perverse incentives, we’ve prioritized growth over maintenance, efficiency over resilience, and instant, financially risky development over incremental, financially productive projects.
How do I know you can make your place financially stronger, so that the people who live there can live good lives? The blueprint is in how cities were built for millennia, before World War II, and in the actions of people who are working on a local level to address the needs of their communities right now. We’ve taken these lessons and incorporated them into a few principles that make up the “Strong Towns Approach.” (https://www.strongtowns.org/journal/2015/11/11/the-strong-towns-approach)
We can end what Strong Towns advocates call the “Growth Ponzi Scheme.” (https://www.strongtowns.org/the-growth-ponzi-scheme) We can build places where people can live good, prosperous lives. Ask me anything, especially “how?”
Thank you, everyone. This has been fantastic. I think I've spent eight hours here over the past two days and I feel like I could easily do eight more. Wow! You all have been very generous and asked some great questions. Strong Towns is an ongoing conversation. We're working to address a complex set of challenges. I welcome you to plug in, regardless of your starting point.
Oh, and my colleagues asked me to let you know that you can support our nonprofit and the Strong Towns movement by becoming a member and making a donation at https://www.strongtowns.org/membership
Keep doing what you can to build a strong town! —-- Proof: https://twitter.com/StrongTowns/status/1479566301362335750 or https://twitter.com/clmarohn/status/1479572027799392258 Twitter: @clmarohn and @strongtowns Instagram: @strongtownspics