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A weekly conversation on the Strong Towns movement hosted by Charles Marohn. The podcast blends fiscal prudence with good urban design to highlight how America can financially strengthen its cities, towns and neighborhoods and, in the process, make them better places to live.

You can support the podcast and become a member of Strong Towns at www.StrongTowns.org.

The Strong Towns Podcast Strong Towns

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A weekly conversation on the Strong Towns movement hosted by Charles Marohn. The podcast blends fiscal prudence with good urban design to highlight how America can financially strengthen its cities, towns and neighborhoods and, in the process, make them better places to live.

You can support the podcast and become a member of Strong Towns at www.StrongTowns.org.

    Should California Bring Back Redevelopment Agencies?

    Should California Bring Back Redevelopment Agencies?

    From the Strong Towns Gathering in Santa Ana, California, is a discussion about whether the state of California should bring back local redevelopment agencies. Mike Madrid and Steven Greenhut join Chuck Marohn to debate the matter.

    • 1 Std. 1 Min.
    Go Cultivate with Verdunity

    Go Cultivate with Verdunity

    A brief update from Chuck Marohn followed by an extended Q&A rebroadcast from an appearance on the Go Cultivate podcast by Verdunity.

    • 1 Std. 18 Min.
    If the “Strong Towns” book is the WHY, this book is the HOW.

    If the “Strong Towns” book is the WHY, this book is the HOW.

    By coincidence, on October 1, the very day Wiley released the new Strong Towns book, Wiley also published the new book by Quint Studer.
    It was coincidental for two reasons:
    Because Studer—in addition to being a businessman, entrepreneur, bestselling author, and leadership expert—is also a Strong Towns member, a past contributor to this site, and a passionate community leader working tirelessly to make his own city of Pensacola, Florida a more vibrant and economically resilient place. (Pensacola actually won this year’s Strongest Town Award).
    Because if the Strong Towns book is the WHY, Studer’s new book is the HOW.
    In today’s episode of the Strong Towns podcast, Strong Towns founder and president Chuck Marohn talks with Quint Studer about The Busy Leader’s Handbook: How to Lead People and Places That Thrive. Whether you are leading a movement or a business, a nonprofit or a government agency, a staff of employees or a team of volunteers—this book is an essential resource. Comprised of 41 short chapters, it’s also written in such a way that it can be read from start to finish, or referenced as-needed.
    In this episode, Marohn and Studer discuss the importance of leading with humility (“If you don’t deflate your ego, it gets deflated for you”), why good leaders and good communities are coachable, why Strong Towns need strong small businesses, and how to build teams that are not only satisfied but actively engaged in your organization’s mission.
    Don’t miss these other valuable insights from this interview:
    14:15 - Why great organizations identify, share and are guided by their values
    17:30 - Why local governments need to work extra hard to develop a positive workplace culture
    26:00 - Why “transparency is trust”
    34:15 - How to run meetings that you and your team don’t hate to attend
    39:00 - The workplace challenges unique to local governments
    43:10 - Why it’s time to move beyond the strategic plan
    49:00 - How the Studer Community Institute is working to “raise the civic IQ” of cities and towns
    Quint Studer has been a mentor to us as we've built the Strong Towns movement. We know you'll find his experience and wisdom as indispensable as we do.
    Other Links:
    Quint Studer Homepage
    Other Books by Quint Studer
    Studer Community Institute 
    EntreCon
    CivicCon
     

    • 57 Min.
    Students and the Strong Towns Movement

    Students and the Strong Towns Movement

    If you want to get an idea of where the professions that shape our built environment—professions like urban planning, civil engineering, public policy, architecture, and so forth—are going, you could do a lot worse than to talk with current students in those fields.
    So we did. Strong Towns Senior Editor Daniel Herriges (a recent policy-school grad himself, with a 2017 Master of Urban and Regional Planning degree) convened a panel of three Strong Towns members who are current students in fields that touch on our conversation:

    Sarah Brown, Master’s student in City and Regional Planning at UNC Chapel Hill. Recent graduate in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute.


    Alex Nichols, Master’s student in Public Policy at Duke University.


    Andrew Halt, traffic and ITS engineer and part-time planning student at Temple University. Recent graduate in Civil Engineering from Notre Dame University.

    Very often, it’s the young who take to a paradigm shift most readily. They’ve got the detachment to size up what their field has accomplished over time and where it has fallen short, the impatience to insist that we learn to do better, and, says Brown, “the space to be loud” in ways that those who are employed as public servants can’t always be.
    We’ve certainly seen the Strong Towns message resonate powerfully with students and young professionals, who are some of our most eager members and #StrongCitizens. And we fully expect we’ll continue to see the impact of our ideas grow in fantastic ways as these young people move into the mainstream of their professions.
    This week, during our biannual member drive, you can help us share the Strong Towns philosophy more widely than ever before. Your support is how we do it, and any amount helps. And this week only, if you join the Strong Towns movement by donating at the $10 per month level or higher, you will get a free copy of Chuck Marohn’s book, Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity.
    Become a member here.

    • 28 Min.
    Aligning Mission with Funding, the Strong Towns Way

    Aligning Mission with Funding, the Strong Towns Way

    There is a moment in the history of Strong Towns that has become legend both inside and outside of the organization. For those of you that haven’t heard about it before, it was the most important pivot point in the direction of the movement.
    Andrew Burleson—our Board Chair then and now—was standing up staring at a collection of Post-it notes on the wall. He had just walked us through an exercise to sort those notes. On each one was an idea—think of it as a program—of what the organization could do. There was about three dozen Post-its representing the ambitions, dreams and aspirations of those of us sitting in the room.
    Our problem was never trying to figure out what to do. Our shared objective was to change the development pattern of North American—no small feat—so there was a nearly infinite list of things that needed to be done, stuff we could do. The difficult question was always deciding what we should do. Most pointedly: What do we say no to? What opportunities do we pass over and what do we focus on?
    Andrew’s sort had challenged us with two questions: First, what do we do well? Second, of the things we could do, what would be the most effective in furthering our mission? We collectively haggled over the answers, sorting as we went.
    And then, magically, there appeared in front of me one of the greatest moments of clarity I’ve ever experienced, where all the things we did well clustered with the things that mattered, providing powerful guidance for what I needed to do with my life.
    Two out of the three things we said we could do ended up on the scrapheap, including doing consulting work for cities (the thing I had done for two decades, knew well, and—no small point—was currently paying the bills and keeping the organization in business).
    The Post-its that were left had no easily discernible business model, but a much clearer path to changing the world as we understood it. We decided that we would focus on (1) creating compelling content, (2) distributing that content broadly, and (3) nudging people to take action. We decided to put all our efforts into developing our ideas and then getting them out into the world, with a focus on making them actionable for people.




    And that’s what we’ve done.
    Become a member of Strong Towns today by going to https://www.strongtowns.org/membership.

    • 20 Min.
    What does it mean to be part of a bottom-up revolution?

    What does it mean to be part of a bottom-up revolution?

    Last month, Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity was published. Since then, I’ve been touring North America to promote the Strong Towns movement and share our ideas with audiences big and bigger. It’s been an astounding six weeks.
    And as the person who has been here from the start, the one who wrote the very first article on this site eleven years ago, the one who coined the term “Strong Towns” and first started talking of the work as a “movement for change” (when others scoffed at the notion), today I am very confident of two things:
    First, what we’re doing – all of us, together – is working. We’re changing the entire conversation about growth, development, capital investment, cities, and infrastructure. There are few places in this country where these issues are being discussed where our ideas are not influencing the conversation. That’s not because of me, and it’s not because of any of us here working for the organization. It’s because of you; our members, our audience, and this entire movement of people that is out there sharing our message and pushing for change.
    Second, this movement is about to break through into a higher level of the cultural discourse. This has happened before as our ideas have spread, and each time it’s an exponential ride up the influence curve. This time, the leap is going to be huge – we can see it starting to happen. The book release buzz has connected us with three cable news networks as well as multiple national media publications, all of which are enthusiastic about discussing our ideas. The platform for spreading our message is about to expand. This is exciting.
    Every November, we pause for a week to ask the members of our audience to support the Strong Towns movement by becoming members. The $5, $10, $25 or more a month so many are giving us – or your one-time contribution of any amount – is the most important source of funding we have. Please take a moment right now and sign up to be a member of Strong Towns.

    • 14 Min.

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