“The North American development pattern, the way we build our cities, creates a lot of liabilities and not enough wealth, financially, to actually take care of those liabilities.” These are the words of today’s guest Charles “Chuck” Marohn. Chuck is the founder and president of Strong Towns, as well as a professional engineer and land use planner with decades of experience. He is also the author of Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity and Confessions of a Recovering Engineer. In this episode, Chuck sheds light on how the way in which we build our cities has drastically changed since before the Great Depression and how the current North American development pattern creates towns and cities that lack the wealth to be able to maintain their critical infrastructure and take care of their own futures. Tuning in you’ll hear how the problems of Ferguson, Missouri can be attributed to this pattern, how northeastern cities compare with southwestern cities based on their development since World War II, and why Chuck has more hope for the future of Detroit than the future of Phoenix. For an eye-opening conversation on how we need to adapt in order to build strong towns, tune in today!
Key Points From This Episode:
• Charles “Chuck” Marohn explains how Strong Towns is both an organization and a movement.
• How the North American development pattern creates towns and cities that are unable to take care of their own futures.
• Why Chuck believes that the way cities grow today has a Ponzi scheme-like aspect to it.
• Thoughts on what percentage of the liabilities are covered by Wall Street capital versus state and federal.
• How northeastern cities compare with southwestern cities based on their development since World War II.
• Ferguson, Missouri as an example of a once affluent area that has aged and is experiencing this distress.
• How the way in which we build our cities has drastically changed since the pre-Great Depression.
• Why Chuck is excited about the neighborhoods in Detroit where they are reusing old buildings instead of tearing them down.
• The concept of the Paris 15-minute city and what Chuck likes about it.
• Thoughts on other countries that have copied the North American development pattern.
• A comparison between the development styles of cities in the Netherlands versus those of Belgium and why the cities in the Netherlands are doing better.
• What we can learn from Amsterdam transitioning from a car-centric environment to a pedestrian and bicycle-centric environment.
• What we should expect southwestern American cities like Phoenix to look like in 30 years.
• What Chuck would do if building a new town or a new city from scratch.
• The lesson we can learn from the shift from the 20th century to the 21st century.
• Thoughts on Manhattan’s framework for development.
• The concept of a “good party” and why the ratio of private to public investment is more important than the density ratio.
• Chuck’s thoughts on the YIMBY movement.
• Insight into what became of civil engineering.
• Thoughts on why the local Government has become so ineffective and so overburdened.
• What it means to build a Strong Towns movement and what we can expect from it over the next 5 to 10 years.
Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:
Charles Marohn on LinkedIn
Charles Marohn on Twitter
Strong Towns: A Bottom-Up Revolution to Rebuild American Prosperity
Confessions of a Recovering Engineer
Charter Cities Institute
Charter Cities Institute on Facebook
Charter Cities Institute on Twitter