Our Towns, A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America
|Title||Our Towns, A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America (2019)|
|Author||James & Deborah Fallows|
Visiting towns across America by plane, the Fallows found communities confronting local problems head-on with hope, candor, compromise, pragmatism & determination, a story of regions, cities & towns transforming themselves in spite of toxic national politics.
Traditionally, federal government offered the best vehicle for solving intractable challenges (e.g., civil rights, public education, health care, clean air & water & interstate highways). However, the growing gap between federal dysfunction & faith in local governance is causing local leaders & governments to seize the initiative in confronting civic problems.
Shows, sports, tragedies & tweets have masked exciting progress in unexpected places. Like Louis Brandeis’ “laboratories of American democracy,” local governments have long served as civic labs for testing ideas, reforming institutions & achieving tangible civic progress (e.g., Cleveland’s Mayor Johnson in the early 20th Century). Localism offers real hope for overcoming national inertia on many issues (e.g., as demagogues fuel national divisions over immigration, many communities quietly welcome immigrants as assets).
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With this book, the Fallows have given us a powerful antidote to our national dysfunction & an important contribution to civic progress. It not only chronicles the oft-unheralded efforts of optimistic local leaders driven to improve their communities, but demonstrates the exciting promise of local leadership, cooperation & action. Shifting our focus to local issues will free us to tackle problems & attain progress in more civilized, pragmatic ways.