Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Strong Towns is about Creating Value - Market Value and Social Value

If you didn't already have an interest in the Strong Towns thesis, what would draw you in for the lecture on Wednesday the 5th?

I was trying to think of an image or idea that would attract someone who'd never heard of Strong Towns or Chuck Marohn and who didn't respond to the question, "How can Salem become a Strong Town?" Someone who hadn't already decided that there was a problem with the way we plan, design, and build our urban streets and suburban subdivisions. Someone new, even skeptical.

And I think it's the fiscal efficiency argument that seems key: Compact, downtown development is way more efficient in creating personal wealth for owners, jobs for employees, and tax value for municipalities than suburban or big box development. That's it. That's the key to the argument. Most everything else follows from that. It's a financial argument about how best to create value for multiple layers in a city.

Detail via Twitter
Of course Chuck also seems like a friendly guy. Though he doesn't really self-identify as a "cyclist," he's interested in bike transport as a valuable thing for cities and residents.

That's Chuck! from "Engineers should not Design Streets"
And he has important things to say about safety, about our prevailing autoism, and our current propensity to overbuild infrastructure.

He's also a small-c conservative, just having written recently with doubt about Keynesian stimulus spending (here and here). I think he's also a person of strong faith.

For those like the downtown accountant who thinks the bike lanes on Church and High are a colossal waste, he might be a sympathetic messenger and provide an entry point to a wider conversation about urban form and governance.

There's serious bi-partisan magic in the Strong Towns message. In an age of increased polarization, Strong Towns can be a real bridge.

So if you're not already planning on it, you should really consider his talk on Wednesday the 5th at 7pm in the Library's auditorium.

Whether you lean right or left, it should be authentic, interesting, and stimulating!

1 comment:

Walker said...

Funny, re-reading your post months later, after meeting Chuck in person and spending the day with him and then doing a bunch more reading on the StrongTowns website -- efficiency is the LAST word Chuck would want applied, because he points out that anti-fragility is not "efficient" in the same way that having bilateral features isn't efficient for an organism (it's just a whole lot more favored in a chaotic world!).

"Efficiency" is probably a bad theme because it promotes Orderly But Dumb like a massively overbuilt police palace in the name of "efficiency" rather than an anti-fragile setup, where we finally begin rectifying our appalling lack of library facilities (outside of the 1-mile circle centered on the Gilbert House) by building true community centers, multipurpose municipal facilities North, South, Central (with the HQ) and East, with meeting spaces, small auditoriums for presentations, talks, libraries, and precinct offices for the locally stationed police, who are helped to become part of the community be being stationed in it.