For almost a hundred years, cities across North America have been the victims of a harmful development pattern that squanders resources and makes our communities financially fragile. The Strong Towns movement was founded to fight against this suburban development model and help rebuild prosperity for everyone. Back in 2015, the Strong Towns staff and Board of Directors got together to write a Strategic Plan that puts this fight and mission into words.
That was seven years ago. Last year, we knew it was time for a refresh, for a plan that makes sense for the moment we’re in now and the needs of you—our members—across the country. You asked for direction. You asked for a greater focus on core issues. You asked for more tools to implement a Strong Towns approach in your city. Over the last year, the Strong Towns staff and Advisory Board has been working to put together a new strategic plan to reflect those needs and goals.
I want to pause for a second to make something clear: I’ve worked for several nonprofits and I know from experience it’s pretty common to do this whole strategic planning thing every few years, sometimes paying for a consultant to come in and do it for you, typically spending a lot of time coming up with flowery language and grand visions that will likely never be achieved.
But for Strong Towns, a strategic plan isn’t just an obligatory document we compile every decade, fill with platitudes, and then put on a shelf to gather dust. It’s something we take seriously to direct our collective work on a daily basis.
I had a copy of our previous Strategic Plan sitting next to me at my desk for the last several years. Every single time we start a new project or even write an important new article, we refer back to that plan and ask: Does this fulfill our mission? Does this meet our agreed upon goals? Or is it a distraction? If the latter, we don’t do it. If it serves our mission, then we do everything in our power to make it happen. That’s what this plan means for the Strong Towns movement. It’s a vision for our future and a commitment to actively work towards these goals every day.
With that, we’re pleased to present the new Strong Towns Strategic Plan, which will guide the organization for at least the next five years (until we craft a new one).
Here’s how it kicks off:
We seek to have the Strong Towns Approach be the default way that every city, town, and neighborhood pursues growth, development, and prosperity.
We seek to replace America’s post-war pattern of development, the Suburban Experiment, with a pattern of development that is financially strong and resilient. We advocate for cities of all sizes to be safe, livable, and inviting. We work to elevate local government to be the highest level of collaboration for people working together in a place, not merely the lowest level in a hierarchy of governments.
We are an advocacy organization that primarily uses media to grow and support a movement for change.
We believe that the change we seek will occur when there is a critical mass of thought and action, making the Strong Towns approach self-evident to decision makers and the people they serve.
With this plan, we are focusing our program efforts on five priority campaigns in pursuit of our strategy: (1) transparent local accounting to reveal the financial implications of the Suburban Experiment, (2) an end to highway expansion and related investments, (3) a shift on local streets from automobile throughput to safety and wealth creation, (4) incremental housing expansion allowed in every neighborhood, and (5) an end to parking mandates and subsidies…