To Both See and Tell the Country: From the Road through North Carolina to South Carolina

Why seeing more of America matters.


Renewing the call for a Marshall Plan for America

Seven decades ago, a plan to rebuild fragile, wounded countries swept across Western Europe. That idea should serve as a blueprint for American towns and cities and regions left behind today, argues Michael Cooper.


Three community leaders come together to tell the stories of American renewal in their towns.

What do Ajo, Arizona; Eastport, Maine; and Charleston, West Virginia have in common? The answer leads down a rural path.


Substituting Hope for Fear in Small Town America

What is the future of power?


What Could Go Right?

How do global changes affect us on the local level, and vice versa?


'Renewal' Webinar Available to Stream On-Demand

What can a conversation about 'Renewal' teach us about climate change?


How American Justice Today Creates Injustice

Developing a common definition of justice could go a long way towards healing our national rifts. But how do we arrive at a shared definition?


Today, there is a tale of two Midwests.

Some communities have made the transition to a new, thriving economy in a changed world. Others are still struggling.


Organizational Irony in Small Town USA

What can a look at the paradoxes of power and failed leadership teach communities?


Exposing What was Already Present

The pandemic provides an opportunity to focus on justice and equity in Erie, Pennsylvania.


Reviving the economy, restoring community, and helping sustainability: a plan.

Two Republican presidents -- Abraham Lincoln, and Dwight Eisenhower -- offered bold new approaches to transportation as part of their national strategy. A proposal


In 1933, a new president found a new way of unifying a public in time of crisis.

What the presidential addresses of 1933 tell us about the America of 2021.


'On Such a Full Sea...'

Welcome to the Our Towns Civic Foundation site! The purpose of this note is to introduce a new film; to connect the news of the moment to the largest possibilities of the era; and to explain the ambitions of the project of which this site is part.

Civic Life

Three Guides to the Next America

This note is to kick off a resumed set of chronicles in the “Our Towns” series, after  time away for a long Atlantic project on the origins of this era’s public-health and economic disaster. The results of that project are here: “Three Weeks That Changed Everything.” If you’re wondering, the three weeks I have in mind are: January […]

Civic Life

The End of the Roman Empire Wasn’t That Bad Maybe the end of the American one won’t be either.

It’s time to think about the Roman empire again. But not the part of its history that usually commands attention in the United States: the long, sad path of Decline and Fall. It’s what happened later that deserves our curiosity. As a reminder, in 476 a.d., a barbarian general named Odoacer overthrew the legitimate emperor of the […]

Economic & Business Development

What Post-pandemic Repair Could Look Like

An update, following a report last month, on plans to repair the damage now being done.