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James M. Fallows Ô 0 Summary

Ction on a national level reform possibilities have often arisen from the local level The Fallowses describe America in the middle of one of these creative waves Their view of the country is as complex and contradictory as America itself but it also reflects the energy the generosity and compassion the dreams and the determination of many who are in the midst of making things better Our Towns is the story of their journey and an account of a country busy remaking itsel I m not sure what to make of this It works okay as a travel book the towns sound interesting with appealing museums restaurants and parks Travel however is of secondary concern to the authors and they could have skipped their descriptions of the coffee shops and biking trails and just focused on civic development The book might have been better with a title of something like Successful Strategies for Urban Revitalization and an editorial focus on analyzing conditions of success and failure It would also have been improved by spending some time looking at the other side of success at the towns that have not been able to pull themselves out of their downward spiral and what they plan to do about itIn many of these places the local leaders felt they had to get creative about finding ways to restore downtowns and bring in good jobs In better times this would have meant floating bonds and getting grants from the state but many of these places are in deep Red parts of the country where those fine Christians would rather see poor people starve and sick children die than pay an extra dollar in taxes As a result many of the localities decided to use public private partnerships a euphemism for giving tax dollars to developers Although these schemes can sometimes be successful they are practically an invitation to fraud and corruption They are especially suspect in that the national trend is away from suburban sprawl and toward a new urbanism so the give aways may not have been necessary at allA particularly egregious example seems to be the case of Allentown Pennsylvania s special tax zone The city agreed to give up thirty years worth of tax receipts and a part of those monies go into a fund to offset the builders construction costs significantly reducing their risks but creating a huge ongoing hole in the tax base It seems they could surely have negotiated a better deal if they had wanted to but did they really want to I was not surprised when I read that the mayor who had been the driving force behind the deal was indicted on fifty four counts of corruption The case had not gone to trial by the time the book went to press but he was subseuently convicted of forty seven of them People of Allentown I give you your tax dollars at workThe book often has the feel of a carefully choreographed tour by the Chamber of Commerce where the civic boosters relentlessly push the town s positives The good things take up pages but when the bad things are mentioned at all such as poverty and high rates of crime and drug abuse they are dealt with in a couple of sentences It started to remind me of visits to the Soviet Union back in the day where government minders were careful to show only the triumphs of Communism and visitors never got to see anything else The Black Ice Score (Parker, use public private partnerships a euphemism for giving tax dollars to developers Although these schemes can sometimes be successful they are practically an invitation to fraud and corruption They are especially suspect in that the national trend is away from suburban sprawl and toward a new The Black Painting urbanism so the give aways may not have been necessary at allA particularly egregious example seems to be the case of Allentown Pennsylvania s special tax zone The city agreed to give Fire and Desire up thirty years worth of tax receipts and a part of those monies go into a fund to offset the builders construction costs significantly reducing their risks but creating a huge ongoing hole in the tax base It seems they could surely have negotiated a better deal if they had wanted to but did they really want to I was not surprised when I read that the mayor who had been the driving force behind the deal was indicted on fifty four counts of corruption The case had not gone to trial by the time the book went to press but he was subseuently convicted of forty seven of them People of Allentown I give you your tax dollars at workThe book often has the feel of a carefully choreographed tour by the Chamber of Commerce where the civic boosters relentlessly push the town s positives The good things take The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox up pages but when the bad things are mentioned at all such as poverty and high rates of crime and drug abuse they are dealt with in a couple of sentences It started to remind me of visits to the Soviet Union back in the day where government minders were careful to show only the triumphs of Communism and visitors never got to see anything else

review Our Towns

Our Towns

C servants librarians business people city planners students and entrepreneurs to take the pulse and understand the prospects of places that usually draw notice only after a disaster or during a political campaignThe America they saw is acutely conscious of its problems from economic dislocation to the opioid scourge but it is also crafting solutions with a practical minded determination at dramatic odds with the bitter paralysis of national politics At times of dysfun This was my comfort read this year Whenever the news got me down I d pick up this book and read about another American town that was trying to figure things out from economies in the tank to the opioid epidemic to immigrationJim Fallows whom you will know from his work at The Atlantic and his wife Deb climb into their Cirrus and spend four years flying around the United States finding communities large Erie Pennsylvania 97000 and small Eastport Maine 1500 that are in the process of figuring out how to make things work and in large part are succeeding In their conclusion Fallows compares our current time with the Gilded Age and convincingly makes the case that Whichever party holds the presidency the other will likely hold enough of the Congress to make comprehensive measures of any sort very hard to push through That is why local resilience and adaptability of the kind we have witnessed deserve nationwide attentionSo we can t look to the federal government for the next interstate highway system but we can look to towns and cities to figure out mass transportation and when they do for other communities to model on theirsThe Fallows found many similarities between these communities which they summarize in their last chapter 10 12 Signs of Civic Success which if you have any civic spirit at all will have you reading through the lens of your own community First off Communities that work work in a non partisan manner Let me just say that again A NON PARTISAN MANNER In fact the Fallows write The often national politics came in local discussions the worse shape the town was likely to be inSuccessful communities have downtowns and community colleges and support their public libraries They make themselves open in particular to immigrants and they have big plans Remember Eastport Maine The town of 1500 people They re reinventing themselves as the US s northernmost port in anticipation of global warming opening up over the top sea routesLastly you know the 12 sign Brewpubs there s one other marker of a city that is working perhaps the most reliable gauge A city on the way back will have at least one craft brewery maybe and probably some small distilleries tooA town that has them also has a certain kind of entrepreneur and a critical mass of mainly youngcustomers It sounds like a joke but it explains a lotMy own home town of Homer Alaska has two brewpubs Jim and Deb Fallows please noteThis is a book that will make you feel better about just about everything Read it recommend it take heart The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox understand the prospects of places that The Illusionists usually draw notice only after a disaster or during a political campaignThe America they saw is acutely conscious of its problems from economic dislocation to the opioid scourge but it is also crafting solutions with a practical minded determination at dramatic odds with the bitter paralysis of national politics At times of dysfun This was my comfort read this year Whenever the news got me down I d pick Planet of the Bugs up this book and read about another American town that was trying to figure things out from economies in the tank to the opioid epidemic to immigrationJim Fallows whom you will know from his work at The Atlantic and his wife Deb climb into their Cirrus and spend four years flying around the United States finding communities large Erie Pennsylvania 97000 and small Eastport Maine 1500 that are in the process of figuring out how to make things work and in large part are succeeding In their conclusion Fallows compares our current time with the Gilded Age and convincingly makes the case that Whichever party holds the presidency the other will likely hold enough of the Congress to make comprehensive measures of any sort very hard to push through That is why local resilience and adaptability of the kind we have witnessed deserve nationwide attentionSo we can t look to the federal government for the next interstate highway system but we can look to towns and cities to figure out mass transportation and when they do for other communities to model on theirsThe Fallows found many similarities between these communities which they summarize in their last chapter 10 12 Signs of Civic Success which if you have any civic spirit at all will have you reading through the lens of your own community First off Communities that work work in a non partisan manner Let me just say that again A NON PARTISAN MANNER In fact the Fallows write The often national politics came in local discussions the worse shape the town was likely to be inSuccessful communities have downtowns and community colleges and support their public libraries They make themselves open in particular to immigrants and they have big plans Remember Eastport Maine The town of 1500 people They re reinventing themselves as the US s northernmost port in anticipation of global warming opening Fishes of the Open Ocean up over the top sea routesLastly you know the 12 sign Brewpubs there s one other marker of a city that is working perhaps the most reliable gauge A city on the way back will have at least one craft brewery maybe and probably some small distilleries tooA town that has them also has a certain kind of entrepreneur and a critical mass of mainly youngcustomers It sounds like a joke but it explains a lotMy own home town of Homer Alaska has two brewpubs Jim and Deb Fallows please noteThis is a book that will make you feel better about just about everything Read it recommend it take heart

review ´ PDF, DOC, TXT or eBook Ô James M. Fallows

A vivid surprising portrait of the civic and economic reinvention taking place in America town by town and generally out of view of the national media A realistically positive and provocative view of the country between its coastsFor the last five years James and Deborah Fallows have been traveling across America in a single engine prop airplane Visiting dozens of towns they have met hundreds of civic leaders workers immigrants educators environmentalists artists publi Not compelling And clunky


10 thoughts on “Our Towns

  1. says:

    Not compelling And clunky

  2. says:

    So I loved the Atlantic article in which Fallows lays out the argument of the book which is probably why the book was disappointing And all the optimism about America I felt after reading that article is gone now because the book does not really support the thesis that American towns are doing great and are way better off than we think While I tend to prefer well done ethnographies and think they can often reveal than just data t

  3. says:

    The only part I feel right in commenting on is the Erie PA chapter because it hits close to home While the parts devoted to the immigrant and refugee populations were well done the rest of the chapter failed to get at the heart of both the positives and negatives in Erie While the decline of industrialization cer

  4. says:

    Everyone should read this book It is full of information and examples on how to change a failing town or city into a prosper

  5. says:

    Edited to fix typos because I should never ever try to write a review from my phone I liked the idea of the book I even like Fallows' magazine work This however grated on me Affluent WASP couple flies their private plane around the country dropping into apparently random towns They do a meet and greet with the mayor or town marketing person and get the latest dog and pony presentation about how the town's revitalizing try to ble

  6. says:

    This was my comfort read this year Whenever the news got me down I'd pick up this book and read about another American town that was trying to figure things out from economies in the tank to the opioid epidemic to immigrationJim Fallows whom you will know from his work at The Atlantic and his wife Deb climb int

  7. says:

    Our Towns a 100000 Mile Journey Into the Heart of America was a look at the heartland of America as authors James and Deborah Fallows traversed from mid size town to mid size town in their Cirrus single engine aircraft over a period of four years interviewing politicians community and business leaders city planners health care provi

  8. says:

    I’m not sure what to make of this It works okay as a travel book; the towns sound interesting with appealing museums restaurants and parks Travel however is of secondary concern to the authors and they could have skipped their descriptions of

  9. says:

    Journalists love bad news “if it bleeds it leads” Conflicts riots political shenanigans Donald Trump’s latest Twitter outrage The Fallows take a measured view Since 2013 he and his wife Deborah have been touring small and mid si

  10. says:

    The premise of this book offers so much potential Its execution feels like rote memorization of a standard outline covering the banal topics of our towns economic development councils schools tech start ups By town three each chapter started to sound the same instead of offering details of what makes these towns uniue and desirable destinations With each chapter on repeat there were fewno transitions wrapped up with an

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