Civic Life

Bring in the Refugees

The most encouraging front-page headline I’ve seen in the New York Times in a long time was this, from Labor Day. It was on a story by Miriam Jordan and Jennifer Steinhauer, and it said: For the moment, let’s set aside the obvious complications and caveats: Who exactly made it out of Afghanistan, and didn’t. When and where […]


We Find Our Way With Maps. But How Can Mapmakers Know Where They're Going?

A "geo-historical narrative" captured the imagination of many children in mid-20th century America. Maps have always had power to shape perceptions of reality. A memoir about their influence--and an introduction of what's to come.


Exposing What was Already Present

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


Immigrants and refugees play vital cultural role in the city’s renaissance.

Erie Celebrates World Refugee Day with New Film, Publishes Directory of Refugee-Owned Businesses


Creating and Reimagining Community through a Crisis

A look at the impact of Covid-19 on the culture sector in Erie, Pennsylvania.


Steven Ascher, Jeanne Jordan, and James and Deborah Fallows discuss taking the “Our Towns” story from a bestselling book to a hit HBO documentary

The filmmakers and writers discuss the story of "Our Towns" at JES Global Summit.


Small-business owners continue working to build community through crisis.

Like many towns and cities, Erie, Pennsylvania long had its identity tied to its industry. The only county of the Keystone State’s 67 located on the Great Lakes watershed – on the lake from which it draws its name – Erie, through the decades, built the reputation for building. But unlike Detroit with its automobiles […]


Meet Erie: A rust belt region continues to navigate its renaissance through a pandemic

Local filmmakers take to their streets examines the economic, cultural, and social impacts of Covid-19 during the summer of 2020 through this short film series.


‘Years of Effort, Undone in Weeks’

Read the story in The Atlantic  here. Ember + Forge, a coffee shop that has become a center of downtown life in Erie, Pennsylvania, but whose revenue has virtually disappeared. Small businesses like this have led Erie’s downtown revival. A new study examines what it will take for them to survive. (Courtesy of Nick Warren and […]

Economic & Business Development

When Small Towns Take the Big Stage

Connecting Ajo, Columbus, and Erie

Leaders & Governance

An American Story, Starting in Kosovo

Idealistic people from outside America's borders have continually prompted the country to live up to its own ideals; an example from Erie.

Economic & Business Development

National Policies Have Local Effects

Changes — in trade policies, and for refugees — are making the United States more closed, rather than more open

Economic & Business Development

Meanwhile in America:

'New Americans' in the Rust Belt

Immigrants & Refugees

A Post-Election Field Report From America’s Refugees and Immigrants

Words and stories from the towns where the newest Americans live

Economic & Business Development

Missing Thanksgiving Day

When you are an American living overseas, Thanksgiving is an even more powerful nationally unifying holiday than the Fourth of July. All the Americans know something special is going on; for everyone else, it’s just another Thursday. Even for non-Americans who are aware of the concept, the shifting date means they can’t quite keep it […]

Economic & Business Development

What the Renewable-Energy Economy Looks Like

Another gigantic turbine blade is delivered in Spearville, Kansas Nicolas Pollock / The Atlantic At its peak, nearly one century ago in 1920, the coal-mining industry employed nearly 800,000 people in the United States. Decade by decade, as America’s population has swelled and its economy has grown, and as total coal output as also increased, employment […]