Back in 2011, I was invited to do a Curbside Chat in Bismarck, North Dakota. It was the first time I had been invited to share the Strong Towns message outside of my home state of Minnesota. My friend, Justin Burslie, and I shared the thirteen hours of driving it took to get there and back. When it was time to go on stage, there were two people in attendance: the two event organizers. They managed to find a third before I got started.
It didn’t matter. I was so excited that there were people interested in the message and I poured all my passion into it. Those three women became members (and friends) and are still actively sharing our stuff today.
Last year I was invited to share the Curbside Chat with the American Public Works Association. Before I went on stage there was a warm up act: a stunt man who plays Indiana Jones at Disney World. As I exited the green room and was escorted to the edge of the stage, a video played that gave the highlights of the Strong Towns message. The announcer ended my introduction: “He’s an engineer, a planner and a visionary with an important message for our time. Please welcome to the stage, Charles Marohn.” And then I stepped out in front of the blinding spotlights and a crowd of over six hundred people.
For someone who remembers Bismarck – and the years of speaking to audiences of two and three – the APWA experience was a bit overwhelming. My Minnesota sensibilities kicked in and I felt embarrassed by all the overblown hype. That is, until I got out of the way of my own ego and understood exactly what it was.
That wasn’t me, Chuck Marohn, being hyped. That was us.
That introduction was for the Strong Towns movement. For our ideas and the impact they are having. For the astounding audience growth, made possible only because of all the people sharing our message. That was for all the city halls and coffee shops, all the classrooms and cafes, where our work is being talked about. It was because of all the ideas being put into action as a result of our shared efforts.
That was an introduction for the Strong Towns movement. For 1,500+ members and over a million readers around the world. For Strong Citizens doing the hardest work, day after day, to make their places stronger.
And so, as always, I poured all my passion into it. This message deserves no less.
You deserve no less.
Twice a year, we pause and invite our audience to join the Strong Towns movement, to help amplify a wave of change that is having a real impact on the places we live in. We need you. Our other members need you. Changemakers across the country need you to take a moment right now and sign up to be a member of Strong Towns.
The professionals working to implement a Strong Towns message in Fate, Texas and Hays, Kansas – and many other cities across the continent – need you. They need more and more people to hear this message so they have the local support they need to change the direction of their community. Your membership helps us give these brave people room to work.
The people of Shreveport and Utica need you, as do regular people everywhere who are trying to stand up to the mindless machine of the mega-project. No other organization is pushing back on those calling for more wasteful infrastructure spending like we are. And nothing scares those advocates more than a million regular Americans doing the simple math. Your membership helps put our message in the hands of those fighting for the future of their own cities.
The children, and their families, in places like Springfield, Massachusetts need you. They need the Strong Towns message to overcome the antiquated thinking that allows us to keep building deadly streets in their neighborhoods. They all deserve a chance to grow up in a city where crossing the street is safe. Your membership is giving that logic the weight it deserves.
And the leaders of North Dakota and places like Salisbury, Maryland and Fayetteville, Arkansas – where their elected officials are out talking the Strong Towns message – need you. As great leaders stand up, we need to give their push for change the credibility and urgency it requires. When more and more people stand up to become supporting members of Strong Towns, it gives these people the confidence to lead.
When you become a member of Strong Towns, you are supporting a change in the conversation. You are giving us the resources that we need to get this powerful message in front of more and more people. It’s working. All we need today is your support.
Take a minute right now and become a member of Strong Towns. Then you can enjoy this week, which is a celebration of our members and the movement they are building, knowing that you are part of the team.
And if you’re already a member, help us grow the movement by telling a friend about Strong Towns. Or by asking your employer to match your contribution. Or by encouraging your employer to become a sponsor. Or even just throwing in a few additional dollars.
We’ve come a long ways together. Let's make this week another big step forward.