Our Town by James and Deborah Fallows



Husband and wife team James and Deborah Fallows traverse the United States from 2013 to 2016 to observe how some communities are re-inventing themselves for the 21st century.

With James piloting a single engine plane, they visit such places as my home town of Sioux Falls, SD, Greenville, SC, Pittsburgh, PA, Fresno, CA, Bend, OR and countless other towns from coast to coast.

They observe thriving places and make a list of 11 signs of civic success. Divisive national politics do not impair local projects. Each locale has its movers and shakers. Things get done when there are partnerships between the private sector and government. People know their town’s story. Their downtown is still viable. Their city is near a research university. Community college classes are available.

K-12 schools are doing a good job. Successful towns welcome newcomers, including immigrants. Civic plans like bike trails and parks indicate an effective mayor or town council. Small businesses like craft breweries are encouraged.

This is an uplifting story of innovation and cooperation that the mainstream media seldom highlights. Anyone interested in the true state of our country should read Our Towns. To Lori Lightfoot and all of the presidential candidates: this little book should be on your reading lists!


Note:This blog post was written during the 2020 presidential campaign. The book still holds important ideas for us as we re-evaluate how we want to live in cities, large and small.