100 episodes

This podcast features stories of the Strong Towns movement in action. Hosted by Rachel Quednau, it's all about how regular people have stepped up to make their communities more economically resilient, and how others can implement these ideas in their own places. We’ll talk about taking concrete action steps, connecting with fellow advocates to build power, and surviving the bumps along the way—all in the pursuit of creating stronger towns.

The Bottom-Up Revolution Strong Towns

    • Society & Culture
    • 4.8 • 65 Ratings

This podcast features stories of the Strong Towns movement in action. Hosted by Rachel Quednau, it's all about how regular people have stepped up to make their communities more economically resilient, and how others can implement these ideas in their own places. We’ll talk about taking concrete action steps, connecting with fellow advocates to build power, and surviving the bumps along the way—all in the pursuit of creating stronger towns.

    Top of the Bottom-Up: Building Gentle Density and a Grassroots Campaign for City Council

    Top of the Bottom-Up: Building Gentle Density and a Grassroots Campaign for City Council

    While Rachel is on maternity leave, we’re re-running some of our best and most popular episodes of The Bottom-Up Revolution podcast.
    We were reminded about this episode after recently recording a new interview with Sarah Cipkar, a small-scale developer based in Windsor, Ontario, whose interest in accessory dwelling units prompted her to build her own ADU.
    Today’s re-run conversation with Ashley Salvador was recorded in the fall of 2021. Salvador is a big advocate for accessory dwelling units and, like Cipkar, lives in Canada, in the city of Edmonton. (Canadians must be onto something when it comes to expanding housing options and making housing more affordable!) We could sing the praises of accessory dwelling units all day, but the basic gist is that they allow homeowners to build a small additional apartment on their land, meaning rental income for the owner and the chance for a new resident to live in a desirable neighborhood at a much lower cost than the typical home in that area. It’s a win-win situation.
    What started for Salvador as a research project turned into people asking her for input on how they could build their own ADUs and navigate the zoning and permitting processes, so she started an organization to help teach people about all of this. And eventually, she was so driven to make her community stronger that she decided to run for city council and won in 2021.
    It’s a trajectory we’ve heard about many times on this show: Someone starts exploring an issue they care about, momentum gets built around that issue and other people start joining the cause, and, sometimes, that individual decides to take the next step into leadership and run for local office. You’ll hear about that whole journey in this conversation, which is one of our most popular episodes to date.
    Additional Show Notes

    YEGarden Suites website.


    Check out the related interview with Sarah Cipkar.


    “Will Edmonton Be the First Major Canadian City to Eliminate Parking Minimums?” by Ashley Salvador, Strong Towns (May 2020).


    “How to Get Rid of Parking Minimums,” a Strong Towns webcast featuring Ashley Salvador.


    Follow Ashley Salvador on Twitter.


    Support this podcast by becoming a Strong Towns member today.

    • 26 min
    The Bottom-Up Revolution Is…Getting Stronger

    The Bottom-Up Revolution Is…Getting Stronger

    On this special Member Week episode of the show, Chuck Marohn and Strong Towns Member Advocate Norm Van Eeden Petersman talk about the membership experience at Strong Towns and the new initiatives we hope to launch soon. We hope you enjoy it, and if you want to be in on the Strong Towns member experience, then join us! Become a Strong Towns member today.

    • 31 min
    Top of the Bottom-Up: Growing Food, Growing Resilience

    Top of the Bottom-Up: Growing Food, Growing Resilience

    While Rachel is on maternity leave, we’re re-running some of our best and most popular episodes of The Bottom-Up Revolution podcast.
    This one, originally recorded in February of 2021, shares the amazing success story of Alfred Melbourne, who came out of prison, got access to a small, trash-filled plot of land, and began tilling it, improving his neighborhood in the process. Eventually he turned that into a non-profit urban farm operation, Three Sisters Gardens, where young people learn skills and the produce is donated in an area without much fresh food access—plus, Melbourne’s now expanded to other plots around the city.
    The organic (pun intended) growth of this effort has impacted so many people and shows how a little seed money and guidance can allow an entrepreneur to thrive. Think about that when you see billions of dollars allotted for highway expansion. Imagine what we could do if we took a fraction of that money and used it to jump-start neighborhood improving efforts like Three Sisters Gardens.
    ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES

    Three Sisters Gardens website.


    Three Sisters Gardens Instagram page, where you’ll find photos and videos.


    Center for Land-Based Learning.


    “This Modern Farmer Employs At-Risk Youth to Keep Them Off the Streets,” by Alfred Melbourne, Modern Farmer (January 2021).


    Send your story ideas and guest suggestions to rachel@strongtowns.org.


    Support this podcast by becoming a Strong Towns member today.

    • 20 min
    Sarah Cipkar: Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit and Helping Others Do the Same

    Sarah Cipkar: Building an Accessory Dwelling Unit and Helping Others Do the Same

    You know this narrative by now, right? Maybe it’s even your story: Someone gets fired up about an issue in their community and starts taking steps to address it. Next thing they know, neighbors are coming to them for advice, momentum is building around this issue, and they’re finding a whole community of people who care about that thing, too. This turns into a broader effort to change, not just that initial issue, but also all the Strong Towns issues that are connected to it…
    Today’s guest is Sarah Cipkar, and she experienced her own version of this journey. A few years ago, she decided to take the step to build an accessory dwelling unit in her yard in Windsor, Ontario. An accessory dwelling unit (also called an additional dwelling unit, ADU, or granny flat, among other terms) just refers to any small housing that’s added to an existing lot. It could be a small apartment built over your garage or a mini cottage constructed in the backyard of your home.
    Cipkar successfully built that ADU, found a great tenant, and the property was soon providing income for her family, plus a new sense of community with her tenant, who helped out with watching the house while Cipkar was on trips, shared meals with her family, and more. (Cipkar will tell you about the myriad benefits of ADUs in this episode. This is just the beginning of the list, really.)  
    After going through the intensive process of not just building the ADU, but first jumping through the many government hoops, permits, and financing challenges to get the project off the ground in the first place, Cipkar was motivated to help others navigate this process, too. She started a pilot project called ADUSearch, which is an online hub where anyone can look up their address and find out what sorts of additional dwelling units could be built on their property. She began this initiative with properties in Windsor, but is now expanding it, thanks to some grants and partnerships, to encompass the entire country of Canada. 




    ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES

    ADUsearch.ca website.


    Visit Sarah Cipkar’s website.


    ADUsearch and Sarah Cipkar on Instagram.


    Learn more about Accessory Dwelling Units in the Strong Towns Action Lab where you can find core insights, case studies, key articles and more.


    Backdoor Revolution: The Definitive Guide to ADU Development by Kol Peterson.


    Send your story ideas and guest suggestions to rachel@strongtowns.org.


    Support this podcast by becoming a Strong Towns member today.

    • 35 min
    Erin Stewart: A Mayor Working for Safe Streets and a Thriving Downtown

    Erin Stewart: A Mayor Working for Safe Streets and a Thriving Downtown

    Erin Stewart has served as mayor of New Britain, Connecticut, since 2013. She was elected at the age of just 26 and was the youngest mayor in the city’s history. Mayor Stewart is a Republican with a particular passion for building safer streets, revitalizing neglected properties, and helping New Britain’s downtown thrive.
    In this conversation, Mayor Stewart talks about her efforts to increase housing downtown, especially given the history of a highway that cut through New Britain during the urban renewal period decades ago. She sees the financial and social value of investing in places that prioritize people walking, biking, and enjoying life—not just people driving through. She also knows how important access to affordable transportation options is for many of her constituents who don’t own cars.
    Mayor Stewart is committed to listening to New Britain residents and responding to their concerns, no matter what political party they associate with, and she’s seen serious success improving the financial situation in her town, lifting them out of a deficit hole into a surplus.


    ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES

    Read more about Mayor Stewart.


    New Britain’s Plan of Conservation and Development.


    New Britain’s Complete Streets Roadmap.


    Send your story ideas and guest suggestions to rachel@strongtowns.org.


    Support this podcast by becoming a Strong Towns member today.

    • 26 min
    Norm Van Eeden Petersman: Speaking Up to Build Strong Towns

    Norm Van Eeden Petersman: Speaking Up to Build Strong Towns

    Norm Van Eeden Petersman has biked every street in his community in Delta, British Columbia, with his son; helped found a Strong Towns Toastmasters group; and decided to speak up at a city council meeting in favor of allowing more rental housing.
    That moment of standing up at a council meeting led him to look around at the others who were also supporting the rental housing initiative and gather those people together into what eventually became Del-POP: Deltans for People-Oriented Places, a Local Conversation group that is discussing and advocating on Strong Towns issues in their city. In particular, this group has focused on speaking up when they support something and sharing that support with elected officials to help bolster positive change. They recognized how often people speak up in opposition to things they don’t like and decided to counteract those negative voices with advocacy for things—housing, bike lanes, small businesses, etc.—instead of just against things.
    Norm joined the Strong Towns team in late July as our brand-new Member Advocate. Prior to this, Norm was a pastor and in this conversation, he’ll discuss the connection he sees between his religious ministry and his Strong Towns leadership, plus share about Del-POP and the other efforts he’s made in his community to build a stronger town.
    We know you’ll be inspired by Norm’s enthusiasm and vision!




    ADDITIONAL SHOW NOTES

    Del-POP website.


    Join the Strong Towns Toastmasters group.


    Learn more about Strong Towns Local Conversation groups and how to start your own.


    Bottom-Up Revolution episode featuring Cary Westerbeck (founder of Bo-POP).


    Contact Norm: norm@strongtowns.org.


    Send your story ideas and guest suggestions to rachel@strongtowns.org.


    Support this podcast by becoming a Strong Towns member today.

    • 36 min

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5
65 Ratings

65 Ratings

CateAVL ,

Great Podcast

This podcast is super inspiring. Rachel is a fantastic interviewer, and the range of guests are fascinating.

Mdelesd1 ,

More Personal Dive into Strong Towns

Loving the format and the stories from people active in their communities.

listeninglou ,

Such interesting comments conversations about grass roots projects

Fascinating ground-up projects in so many communities. I’ve started following the work of several interviewees because the conversations were so compelling. Locally based projects can take so many forms!

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