"Places That Work".
Journeys into Hidden America (Canada)
How is it that some places work and others do not ?
History shows us that places were created by accessibility to physical or natural resources or transportation. For instance, Paterson, New Jersey was created for its location next to a waterfall along the Passaic River. Many a community was created by the railroad ran through town, while others that had lobbied unsuccesfully for the train line languished and ended p as ghost towns.
Today social scientists, journalists and writers tell us that other factors help determine whether a place works.
For example, Deborah and James Fallows answered the question after traveling for three years by plane to 49 places large and small. Their findings, entitled "10 1/2 signs of Civic Success" are found in Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America (Pantheon, 2018). They include:
1. People work together on practical local possibilities, rather than allowing bitter disagreements about national politics to keep them apart.
2. You can pick out the local patriots.
3. The phrase "public-private partnership refers to something real.
4. People know the civic story.
5. They have downtowns.
6. They are near a research university.
7. They have, and care about a community college.
8. They have distinctive, innovative schools
9. They make themselves open.
10. They have big plans.
Remember that 1/2 - the list is of 10 1/2 items - the 1/2: the presence of a craft brewery.
If you are a community with these traits and you do not feel that it seems to work yet, well, be reassured that you are on the right track, say the Fallows.
At the same, time, if you feel your town does not have those attributes described above, fear not. This is one writer team's perspective and though informative, it is an unscientific one and not exhaustive one at that.
Every place has its own strengths and its own story to tell. And that story - a narrative - if used smartly can mean success to your community - in your way and on your terms - reflecting the best of who you are and what you can be.
You can be a "place that works" too.