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

4.6 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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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.
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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: 11.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #884,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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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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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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book is a must read for anyone interested in urban development but weary of the impracticality and lack of economic rigor of so much current urban development talk. City planning practitioners and developers, along with anyone active in their local neighborhood assocation would all be served well by the lessons in this book. I discovered Marohn's Strong Towns initiative through some New Urbanism focused blogs that I enjoy, yet are not always practical in terms of diagnoses and solutions for problems with development. Marohn is eminentely practical. In this book, he dives to the core of the problems and perverse incentives built into the infrastruction and development policy of American towns and cities. As a resident of Atlanta, GA, a car-based city if there ever was one, I found this book so exciting because it put into words so many of the problems I've seen yet not fully defined.
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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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