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Our Towns

Our Towns by James Fallows and Deborah Fallows
May 08, 2018 | 432 Pages
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“James and Deborah Fallows have always moved to where history is being made. . . . They have an excellent sense of where world-shaping events are taking place at any moment—and a fervent commitment to be there to see it happen. . . . In these cities, the Fallows argue, citizen participants are coping with declining industries, creating new civic cultures, assimilating waves of immigration, and collaborating across party-lines to revive everything from arts programs to tech seedbeds.”—David Brooks, The New York Times

“A tonic of a book about the can-do America unready to succumb to rot.”—Roger Cohen, The New York Times

“Reminiscent of Charles Kuralt’s On The Road with Charles Kuralt, this unique look at the heart of America will bring hope and insight to readers. Highly recommended.”—David Miller, Library Journal

“I’ve been waiting for this book for years….Buy this book….This country is more united than divided…and this book will prove it.”—Joe Scarborough, co-host of Morning Joe on MSNBC 

“Knowing the Fallows and their work, I assumed this new co-authored book of theirs would be typically savvy, sensitive, articulate and prescient. What I didn’t expect was how a record of experiences of current middle American communities, through their lenses, would be such a page turner! I’ve guessed for many years that real change in this world would be effected by and within small communities–places where people feel connected and capable of impact on some larger scale. Our Towns is a monumental validation of that hypothesis—with real stories and real people, who are really getting things done. James & Deborah—thanks for your journey, your open and honest observations, and helping to shine light for us at the end of many tunnels.” —David Allen, author of Getting Things Done; the Art of Stress-Free Productivity

Our Towns will become a classic, joining the ranks of American odysseys from De Tocqueville to Dos Passos. The landscape unfurls beneath us; the language of different regions echoes in our ears. Most important, this book is a tonic for what ails us as a nation, a captivating story of energy and renewal across the land.” —Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO, New America

“In the tradition of John Steinbeck and Studs Terkel, the Fallows have crisscrossed the country in search of the extraordinary strength and character of ordinary people and places. What they’ve found—in towns we know and others off the beaten path—should give us all great hope for the future.” —California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.

“An illuminating trip through ‘parts of the country generally missed by the media spotlight’….Writing with lively curiosity and open minds, the couple have created textured portraits of 29 American cities, from Sioux Falls, South Dakota, to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and Eastport, Maine, to Redlands, California…. A well-reported, optimistic portrait of America’s future.” Kirkus Reviews

“An eye-opening, keenly optimistic reminder of the strength of America’s vital center.” —Publishers Weekly

Table Of Contents

 Authors’ Note ix

Introduction: 2017: A Last Trip West 3

Sioux Falls, South Dakota 21
Rapid City, South Dakota 37
Holland, Michigan 41
Burlington, Vermont 50
Eastport, Maine 61

Greenville, South Carolina 81
St. Marys, Georgia 101
Columbus, Mississippi 110
Caddo Lake, Louisiana-Texas 132
In the Air 140
Columbus, Ohio 144
Louisville, Kentucky 169
Allentown, Pennsylvania 176
In the Air 193
Duluth, Minnesota 200
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 214
Charleston, West Virginia 218

In the Air 225
Guymon, Oklahoma 230
Ajo, Arizona 233
San Bernardino, California 248
Riverside, California 265
Redlands, California 274
Fresno, California 286
Winters, California 305
Bend, Oregon 315
Redmond and Prineville, Oregon 333
Chester, Montana 338
The American Prairie Reserve, Montana 343

Dodge City, Kansas 351
Garden City and Spearville, Kansas 371
Erie, Pennsylvania 376

What We Saw and What We Learned 395
10½ Signs of Civic Success 401
Acknowledgments 411

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