Strong Towns: A New Model of Growth, free presentation hosted by the ADA

The Asheville Downtown Association is hosting “Strong Towns: A New Model of Growth,” a special presentation by planning expert, Chuck Marohn. This candid talk about the future of America’s cities, towns and neighborhoods will take place Thursday, September 19 from 6-8pm at The Orange Peel. The presentation is free to attend. Please RSVP here.

The presentation will discuss the financial health of cities, towns and neighborhoods and will be followed by a community-specific discussion.
• Why are our cities and towns so short of resources despite decades of robust growth?
• Why do we struggle at the local level just to maintain our basic infrastructure?
• What do we do now that the economy has changed so dramatically?
The answers lie in the way cities and towns have developed; the financial productivity of our places. This stunning presentation is a game-changer for communities looking to grow more resilient and obtain true prosperity during changing times.

What’s the big idea?
Three “big ideas” are central to Strong Towns thinking:
• The current path cities are pursuing is not financially stable.
• The future for most cities will not resemble the recent past.
• The main determinant of future prosperity for cities will be local leaders’ ability to transform their communities.

Chuck is the co-founder and president of Strong Towns, a nonprofit, non-partisan organization that helps America’s towns achieve financial strength and resiliency.

Strong Towns travels the nation and the digisphere to promote a complete understanding of the costs that are associated with our communities’ methods of growth, and we advocate to address those costs via productive changes in our pattern of development.

Chuck is a Professional Engineer (PE) licensed in the State of Minnesota and a member of the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP). He has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology and a Masters in Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.

He is the author of Thoughts on Building Strong Towns (Volume 1), the primary author of the Strong Towns Blog and the host of the Strong Towns Podcast and See it Differently TV.

Established in 1987, the Asheville Downtown Association is committed to the preservation and improvement of the central business district through programming, civic support and annual objectives. As the voice of downtown residents, merchants and workers, the ADA advocates for policies and practices that will best help growth and preserve the quality of life in downtown. Annually, the group produces events including Downtown After 5, the Asheville Holiday Parade, Oktoberfest, Jinglefest, Easter on the Green, the State of Downtown Luncheon, and the Pritchard Park Cultural Arts Program. The Asheville Downtown Association Foundation carries out the altruistic goals of the ADA including the Spare Change for Real Change program.

Here are some quotes from the Strong Towns presentation:

On our ability to grow by taking on more debt….During the first years of the third generation of suburban expansion, lending standards were gradually abandoned in the quest for more growth. By the end of the housing bubble, lending practices became predatory, involving exotic terms and conditions, before housing flamed out altogether. Today, our ability to continue to grow by taking on more debt is very limited.

On the likelihood of continued support for local growth initiatives from the federal and state governments….From the perspective of a local government, the federal and state governments are unreliable partners over the long term. It is far more likely that they will continue to cut programs that aid cities rather than shift resources to fund local growth initiatives.

On the current productivity of our places….Swapping long-term obligations for near-term cash works for a while, but as with any Ponzi scheme, it ultimately collapses under its own weight. We have grown in a pattern that is inefficient, making poor use of our resources and investments. The lack of productivity in our development pattern means that we can no longer afford to maintain all of the underutilized roads, streets, sewer systems, water systems and sidewalks we have built. This is the financial reality we must now confront.

On solutions to the current economic downturn….The answer is not to continue to pour America’s remaining wealth into suburban development which is not financially sustainable. The answer is another spatial shift; a change in the pattern of development moving away from mass-suburbanization and towards an arrangement with a higher public return on investment.


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