The Strong Towns Podcast
Safe and Productive Streets

Safe and Productive Streets

June 6, 2022

A street is not merely a place for cars. In fact, the primary purpose of a street has nothing to do with motor vehicles at all. A street is, and always has been, a platform for growing community wealth and capacity, the framework for building prosperous human habitat.

This member week, we are sharing insights into our new strategic plan, including our five priority campaigns. The goal of the Safe and Productive Streets campaign is to shift the priority of local streets from automobile throughput to human safety and wealth creation. You can support this campaign by becoming a member of Strong Towns.

Mike McGinn: Making America More Walkable

Mike McGinn: Making America More Walkable

May 23, 2022

America Walks is a nationally recognized non-profit organization that aims to create a more walkable America by giving people resources to effectively advocate for change. Join Strong Towns President Chuck Marohn in a conversation with Mike McGinn—executive director at America Walks and once mayor of Seattle—where they talk about the things that make America less walkable and what we can do about it. 

“We're both struggling with that highway building coalition in our work,” says Chuck. “I think the thing about America Walks today is that I see you’re approaching it from a fresh [and] energized perspective around people walking, and really starting there with getting your feet on the ground, metaphorically and physically in real life.” 

In this episode of The Strong Towns Podcast, Chuck and McGinn discuss topics such as the federal government passing the largest infrastructure spending bill in the nation's history, why it’s so important for walking that we address highways and how they really affect our communities, and core characteristics of strong cities.

Additional Show Notes

This Vancouver-Based Artist Is Writing Music…About Building Strong Towns!

This Vancouver-Based Artist Is Writing Music…About Building Strong Towns!

May 9, 2022

People have taken the Strong Towns approach in a lot of fascinating directions, but this might be one of the most fascinating yet: William Chernoff is a young, Vancouver-based musician who has written songs inspired by Strong Towns.

During the pandemic, Chernoff also started writing about music, building strong towns, and more. In this conversation, Marohn (a musician himself) and Chernoff discuss the creativity involved in writing and music, the way they’re inspired by others and build upon previous work, and the collaborative nature of art. Chernoff specifically talks about the importance of cultivating financially successful local music scenes, using tools like economic gardening to support mid-level or “Stage 2” music groups—tools Strong Towns also recommends for building up local businesses generally.

You don’t want to miss this unique discussion between two people who love music and are passionate about building strong towns! 

Additional Show Notes

Chuck Marohn Answers Your Questions

Chuck Marohn Answers Your Questions

May 2, 2022

It's time for another Q&A session! Today, Chuck Marohn will be responding to your questions on things like how to calculate the actual value of spaces like public parks, whether or not high visibility traffic cameras influence driver behavior, and choosing between unfavorable options in planning processes.

If you've got a burning query that you want us to answer, head on over to the Community Section of the Acton Lab, and post it there. Our goal is to address as many questions as we can, and especially the ones that we think are going to help a lot of people out. So, stay tuned for future Q&A sessions!

Additional Show Notes

Ryan Crane: Malpractice and Accountability in Engineering—A Surgeon’s Take

Ryan Crane: Malpractice and Accountability in Engineering—A Surgeon’s Take

April 25, 2022

In most medical centers, physicians hold routine “morbidity and mortality” conferences, where they analyze cases where patients died or were seriously injured while under medical care. In today’s episode of The Strong Towns Podcast, otolaryngologist and surgeon Ryan Crane discusses how these morbidity and mortality conferences are a chance for medical practitioners to learn, through peer review, where they may have gone wrong in caring for a patient.

“Was there anything that we missed? Was there something about the patient that we didn’t identify? Did we fail as surgeons?” Says Dr. Crane, “When I pick a patient to operate on and something goes wrong, or I hurt them, they come back to my office and I have to look them in the face and tell them: This is what happened, and I’m sorry.”

Where is that sense of accountability in the engineering profession, when people die in car crashes? The medical field certainly isn’t perfect, but perhaps engineers should take a leaf from the doctor’s book and start asking themselves: When people die on our roads, did we fail, as engineers?

Additional Show Notes

An Update and the Strong Towns Strategic Plan

An Update and the Strong Towns Strategic Plan

March 17, 2022

Chuck is taking a little break from podcasting for a few weeks, but in the meantime, here's an update on what's going on behind the scenes at Strong Towns!

“How Can My Town *Not* Be Wealthy When There’s Been So Much Growth?”

“How Can My Town *Not* Be Wealthy When There’s Been So Much Growth?”

March 7, 2022

“How can a city not have pots overflowing with money if there has been so much growth? How are apartments subsidizing people who live in single-family neighborhoods?”

That’s what the city of Oviedo, Florida, asked when it invited Strong Towns President Chuck Marohn (along with Joe Minicozzi and Cate Ryba of Urban3) to speak at its “Make Oviedo Stronger” event last week.

We wanted to share Chuck’s talk with you today on the Strong Towns Podcast, because the core Strong Towns concepts he shared with Oviedo are applicable in so many other cities and towns across the United States—including, most likely, in yours.

Additional Show Notes

Annamarie Pluhar: Shared Housing Doesn’t Have to Be Scary

Annamarie Pluhar: Shared Housing Doesn’t Have to Be Scary

February 28, 2022

Today on the Strong Towns Podcast, host Chuck Marohn is speaking with special guest Annamarie Pluhar. Pluhar is an expert on co-housing and shared housing, and is the author of the book Sharing Housing: A Guidebook for Finding and Keeping Good Housemates.

Despite the fact that practically the entire nation is experiencing a housing crisis, 27% of homes in the U.S. are single occupancy. In other words, one in four adults lives alone, and this is a serious cause of social isolation for many people. Shared housing can be a solution not only for addressing our scarcity of housing, but also for relieving psychological distress for a significant portion of the population.

A Strong Town should have many different options for housing. Pluhar shares her expertise on how we can begin including co-housing among those choices, and how the transition to shared housing doesn’t have to be intimidating for individuals.

Additional Show Notes

The Latest Update on the Strong Towns Lawsuit

The Latest Update on the Strong Towns Lawsuit

February 21, 2022

Today on the Strong Towns Podcast, we wanted to give our listeners an update on the lawsuits that Strong Towns is involved in.

For those new to Strong Towns, here is a brief overview: Charles Marohn, president of Strong Towns, is an engineer and maintains his license even though he stopped doing engineering work in 2012. Briefly in 2018, his license lapsed. Once he realized this, Marohn promptly renewed it, however, the Minnesota Board of Licensure is claiming that he misrepresented himself to the public during the time when his license had expired. They are now demanding that Marohn sign a stipulation order stating that he deceived the public.

In turn, on May 18, 2021, Strong Towns filed a lawsuit against the Minnesota Board of Licensure. The complaint holds that the Board and its individual members have violated the First Amendment free speech rights of Charles Marohn and Strong Towns.

The threatened action by the Board of Licensure is about one thing: using the power of the state to discredit Strong Towns, a reform movement. To silence speech. To retaliate against an individual who challenges the power and financial advantages enjoyed by a certain class of licensed professionals.

This has become even clearer with some new documentation that casts a disturbing light on the situation. Marohn discusses this in detail in the podcast, and you can download the accompanying PDF here. The original article referenced in the documentation can be read here.

Additional Show Notes

Truth in Accounting: Making Cities’ Finances Transparent for All

Truth in Accounting: Making Cities’ Finances Transparent for All

February 14, 2022

Last year, our friends over at Urban3 introduced us to a nonpartisan nonprofit called Truth in Accounting, which recently published Financial State of the Cities 2022, an annual report that they do on local governments and the state of their budgets.

It’s an incredible piece of work, one that says, “We do not advocate for anything: no tax policy, no spending policy. The only thing we advocate for is good budgeting and accounting.” Their only goal is to get the numbers out there to the public, as they believe strongly that governments are harmed when citizens (and sometimes even elected officials) are in the dark when it comes to financial information. Knowledgeable decisions can’t be made if people don’t know the true financial condition of their government.

Sheila Weinberg, a CPA and Founder and CEO of Truth in Accounting, joins Chuck Marohn today on the Strong Towns Podcast to talk about the work her organization is doing to make municipal financial information both transparent and available to everyone.

Additional Show Notes

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