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Thoughts on Building Strong Towns, Volume 1 Paperback – August 4, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 174 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (August 4, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1478319275
  • ISBN-13: 978-1478319276
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 7.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #883,938 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Charles Marohn is a father, husband and an imaginer of great things. He is the founder of the Strong Towns movement and currently serves as Executive Director of Strong Towns, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. He is an engineer, planner, author, columnist, podcaster and public speaker. Marohn has a Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Technology. He is a licensed engineer in the state of Minnesota. He also has received a Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning from the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute. He holds certification from the American Institute of Certified Planners. Marohn is a member of the Congress for the New Urbanism and is active in their NextGen affiliation. He is also a member of the American Planning Association and the National Society of Professional Engineers.

More About the Author

My passion is in working with cities and towns on issues of economic development, land use and engineering - particularly those places that are seeking answers as to why the standard orthodoxy has failed to create prosperity for them. This is what I write, blog, podcast and speak about. My unique perspective is informed by my formal education (engineering and land use planning) and my personal interests (economics and local government).

America's approach to growth has transformed cities rich in history, ingenuity and character into places that are financially fragile and socially frayed. I want to restore the greatness of our cities and towns by reconnecting these places with their historical development pattern. We need to bring back the basic principles of financial resiliency and the importance of community in the measure of prosperity.

I live in Central Minnesota with my wife, two daughters and two Samoyed dogs. I love winter, playing music, reading and the cheering for the Minnesota Twins.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This mind blowing read will change the way you look at your community.
Restless Urbanist
Unlike a normal book, this book is split into many small self-contained articles, but this makes it very easy to use as a reference.
Andrew
Required reading for anyone who is serious about helping towns recover their vitality.
Richard May

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Tracy Davis on August 22, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Timely and relevant, Thoughts on Building Strong Towns should be required reading for every local official and concerned citizen. Civil engineer and certified urban planner Chuck Marohn presents a clear, compelling case for what went wrong with the built environment in America, and how our growth pattern has compromised the financial stability and resilience of communities of all sizes.

Chuck offers a reasoned challenge to the conventional wisdom on issues like transportation, infrastructure spending, and economic development, taking stabs at a few sacred cows along the way; but he's never mean-spirited, always thoughtful, and provides an alternative to the established practices being followed by municipalities today.

If you're concerned about your community and want to make a difference, read this book.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Nathaniel Hood on September 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Everything you needed to know about where we've been and where we're going in the United States. Chuck Marohn details how we approach infrastructure development, and why we need to change our approach. He doesn't just describe the problem, he offers rational responses.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Norman Wright on August 23, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition
Of all the books I've read on urban planning, there isn't one that captures a better, more quintessential approach to managing our cities and towns. Never dogmatic, never stuck in a single mode of thinking, this is a book that emphasizes pragmatic solutions for the long term health of a community. Any idea that you read in this book will already seem feasible and that is what makes it so exciting. Best of all, Mr. Marohn's delivery is clean and clear despite the complex issues he addresses. That's a rarity.

I could go on about the many wonderful ideas and concepts that make up the "Strong Towns" approach but here's the bottom line: this book can help you make your town better (or shall I say, stronger). And with that said, let's wrap up with some hyperbole: Charles Marohn is the ten-foot tall great-nephew of Paul Bunyan who traded his ax for a pen and, with a single stroke, wrote this fine book that made every reader a better, smarter citizen.

That's closer to the truth than you may think!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Padriac Steinschneider on October 18, 2012
Format: Paperback
With an engineer's thoroughness for detail, Chuck Marohn has developed a system for evaluating and understanding the relationship between land use decisions, the benefits that they provide to the community, and the real costs to the community for those benefits. Realizing how misguided we have been during the great sprawl experiment over the last 60 years and how our decisions pertaining to infrastructure and investment have effectively bankrupted so many municipalities, as well as counties and states, is truly scary. Luckily, Chuck also provides guidance for where we should be headed, hopefully before it is too late. Chuck's book is a must read for developers, planners, government officials, mayors and municipal decision-makers. Actually, it is a must read for people who pay property taxes, as well as people who worry about what things will be like for their children in the future. Well written with a comfortable flow, Chuck is able to explain complex ideas in a way that is easy to understand. I am thinking of buying a box and handing them out to the Village Board members in my community who are making the decisions that result in my property taxes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marshall on April 22, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is written in blog format - it doesn't bother me, but it may to some. I point this out because it was written over time, so the author addresses issues chronologically which makes it a bit unfocused. The book starts out interesting, with the author applying his engineering background to a topic that's so specific I can't imagine anyone just "coming across" it. So thus far, the target audience gets what they expect. About 35-40% in though, he strays from discussing urban planning and gets into the financial state of the U.S. and other countries, monetary policy, etc. While I accept that this is peripherally related to the subject of the book, the lack of firsthand experience or education regarding financial matters means I'm paying to read this guy's musings. So now I'm not getting quite what I had in mind when I bought the book.

The only other shortcoming I've noticed is something very common among infrastructure-related media; complaints. Lots and lots and lots of complaining without any practical discussion of solutions. Entire sections of the book dedicated to examples of how and why our urban sprawl is leaching resources to sustain itself. But that point is made early on (and pretty well established in common culture anyways) and doesn't need to be constantly reinforced.

I enjoyed his use of diagrams to make his points (pretty pictures!) which are well thought out and intriguing, such as the paradox that unlimited mobility has created so many inefficiencies that travel is slower. If you're interested in the subject, I would recommend this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Ryan B on January 7, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
It was enlightening to see how the mechanisms for placemaking are often self serving. Lots of good points and references in the appendix. Most unfortunate is the often circular nature of the writing, due to it being a mashup of articles written by the author on the author's website. It felt a bit like watching a tv-series where the previous episode's storyline is rehashed every episode. Nonetheless quite an eye opening book.
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