Local Institutions


Author's Image
Posted on
Entrance to the main library in Columbus, Ohio, a city that is putting the “Open to All” motto into effect (Deborah Fallows)
The more we travel to different parts of the country in our American Futures project, the more we’re impressed both by local idiosyncrasies and by broad emerging patterns we hadn’t fully anticipated. In the second category would be developments like these, among others:

  • How much more functional American governance can seem at the city, regional, and even state level, compared with zero-sum standoff at the federal level (as described here and here elsewhere).
  • How evident the start-up, entrepreneurial, and improvisational outlook is in a wide variety of settings, where you can see its results in the manufacturing, software/services, “social entrepreneurship,” and other fields. (E.g. here and here and here.) This is in contrast to stories we’ve all heard about a paralyzed-seeming America except for the thin layer of financial-engineering specialists or techsters hoping for an IPO.
  • How thick the community fabric of America can seem, and how hard people have tried to maintain and enrich it, at a time when we often think about the country as an assemblage of alienated, mutually suspicious strangers. (E.g. here and here.)

Today Deb Fallows has another installment on this last theme, the institutions that are adapting to create and strengthen the living connections of community. It’s about the municipal library system in Columbus, Ohio, and you can read it here.