‘Our Towns’ - Authors see hope for America at the grassroots level

By: 
Barb Mosher, Contributing Writer

Courtesy photo

Traveling by plane from city to city, James and Deborah Fallows searched for and found hope for America in its smaller communities.

 

REGION – If you’re apprehensive about the social and political divisiveness screaming from national headlines, Deborah Fallows and James Fallows have good news. The best-selling writers are “convinced that the national prospect is more promising than we’d felt before we started.”

What they started six years ago was a journey across and around the United States with a list in hand of “medium-sized and under cities” (populations between 40,000 and 140,000). Their goal was to “take a fresh look at the country, its disappointments and its possibilities ... places that had faced adversity of some sort … and had looked for ways to respond.”

They chronicled their discoveries and conclusions in their book, “Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America,” and will speak about them at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, July 25 at the Elk Rapids Historic Town Hall.

The event, co-sponsored by Green Elk Rapids and the Grand Traverse Regional Community Foundation, is open to the public at no charge.

"Green Elk Rapids saw inspiration in ‘Our Towns,’” said Royce Ragland, chairperson of Green ER. “We believe our community will be encouraged by learning about equally ambitious groups around the country, each trying to move their own towns forward and make them better places."

Beginning in Sioux Falls, South Dakota in June 2013, the Fallowses crisscrossed the country in their single-engine propeller airplane over the next four years, visiting a variety of towns and searching for the true fabric of America by speaking with business people, students, teachers, mayors, librarians, religious leaders, artists and others shaping the future of their communities.

“We wanted to look at parts of the country generally missed by the media spotlight,” writes James, a correspondent for The Atlantic for more than 35 years. “We were interested in places that had faced adversity of some sort, from crop failure to job loss to political crisis, and had looked for ways to respond.”

What they discovered is small-town renewal and reinvention happening across the country, not oblivious to, but in spite of, the current national political culture.

Read the full story in our regular edition of The Review. To subscribe to the paper for just $34 a year, which includes access to our full online e-edition, please go to the subscription page on this website at: http://www.antrimreview.net/subscribe/

 

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