Across the country, in towns outside the media spotlight, a new America is being built - one that is innovative, compromise-minded, optimistic, and working toward practical solutions to the problems of this age.
This is the site for the people, communities, and organizations creating America's future, right now.
Since 2013, Deborah and James Fallows have traveled to small communities in every part of the country that have faced economic shocks, political crises, or other serious hardships. Each place they went, they talked with teachers, business creators, mayors, religious leaders, students, artists and architects, librarians, and others involved in shaping their community's future.
As they traveled across the country, at low altitude in a little propeller airplane, they saw the patterns of river and hill that explain the pattern of American settlement. On the ground, they saw the emerging pattern of American reinvention - through the stories collected here
Editor Phil Nickinson lauds the film's "expansive perspective on America that finds unexpected connections between personal stories, community actions, and the arc of history."
The film introduces us to a wide range of civic leaders, immigrants, educators, environmentalists, artists, students, and more, witnessing their love for their communities and the innovative ways they are improving them.
HBO'S 'Our Towns,' a panoramic yet intimate look at small towns throughout America.
The past year of pandemic has dramatized the importance of fairer internet access—and the surprising new roles that American libraries are assuming.
The story of how a company that started in one of these places is now involving people and businesses in another—and why that matters in the next stage of equitable American recovery.
If national-level policy, in the Biden era, is now trying to support economic recovery and renewal of left-behind areas, ideas on how to do that, and the experimentations and implementations on getting it done, are largely going to occur at the local level.
An update, following a report last month, on plans to repair the damage now being done.
Are fines consistent with a fundamental mission of libraries: to serve the public with information and knowledge? And to address that mission equitably across the diverse population of rich and poor library users?
Some recent items worth noticing
Designed to address both the causes and the effects of California's exposure to climate change.
This film's story would be surprising and engrossing at any time, but it has a current power and relevance its producers could not have foreseen when they began making it.
The role of the arts in a tiny town with its sights set high.
During our five years of travel around the country, my husband Jim and I often found that artists who revealed the perspectives on their hometowns were the people who stopped us in our tracks.
The story of a journey, and a country remaking itself: “Our Towns will become a classic, joining the ranks of American odysseys from De Tocqueville to Dos Passos. THe landscape unfurls beneath us; the language of different regions echoes in our ears. Most important, this book is a tonic for what ails us as a nation, a captivating story of energy and renewal across the land.”
—Anne-Marie Slaughter, President & CEO, New America
“In the tradition of John Steinbeck and Studs Terkel, the Fallows have crisscrossed the country in search of the extraordinary strength and character of ordinary people and places. What they’ve found--in towns we know and others off the beaten path—should give us all great hope for the future.” —California Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr.BUY THE BOOK
"Libraries are the first ones to take the steps to fill in the gaps in the community."
- Deborah Fallows
Our Towns is a terrific and inspiring book by @JamesFallows and @DeborahFallows. Unlike all the news of our divisions, the Fallows thoroughly reveal from the ground (+air) how much unites us. Americans innovating and working hard 2 confront challenges and improve the home front.
ICYMI, the Fallows
This must-read by @FallowsDeb and @JamesFallows is not getting enough attention. It is a riveting, eye-opening look at “
The most optimistic stories, about America! Non-fiction, personal May move to Sioux Falls, at least visit. Rapid City, too. Others! Hanx
Speggen captures the essence of what is destined to be the most accurate portrait of American courage, spirit, & ingenuity since Tocqueville explored our new nation. It portrays #OurErie w/o a nat’l narrative/filter. Thanks @FallowsDeb @JamesFallows
"There's a disconnect between the reality and three dimensionality of the life you live in your own community."- @JamesFallows & @FallowsDeb on #Beyond100Days talking about their nationwide journey through the American heartland @BBCWorld
Their powerful new book was released today, and @JamesFallows & @FallowsDeb sat down w/ me for a special episode of the Kindle Chronicles to share what they learned about America on their 100,000-mile journey by air.
The constant noise and swirling controversies surrounding our national politics obscures the many #civic success stories that are being written every day. https://buff.ly/2HGj7x3 #GetCivic #engageconnectempower @JamesFallows
For many years, annual surveys by the Phi Delta Kappan have shown Americans giving middling or low grades to the nation's schools but A's or B's to their own children's schools. There's a lot of unfounded negative messaging out there about our public schools.
Mm-hmm. Good interviewing advice for national reporters (and anyone) from @JamesFallows in @brianstelter's newsletter. Fallows' book: "Our Towns."
As someone with prairie state roots, this article by @JamesFallows was an interesting take on America's evolution.
Point that @JamesFallows makes about communities being eager to show off their schools is so true. I’m visiting schools across rural Wisconsin & am blown away by all the amazing things going on - & passion of these teachers/school leaders
When I look across the country, the national landscape is often depressing, but what's happening at the local level is really inspiring. Check out @JamesFallows @FallowsDeb #OurTowns to see what's going right out there.
Despite all the rhetoric, the cable news, & the worries: I’m with @JamesFallows & @FallowsDeb and believe: the sun is rising in America.
Have a read: James Fallows on the Reinvention of America https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/05/reinventing-america/556856/ …
in the @TheAtlantic
Such a great story on the resurgence of our nation’s small cities. It resonated with the collective work being done in @sandusky2018 to move this historic, waterfront destination forward. @JamesFallows
.@FallowsDeb & @JamesFallows, at this moment in time, are America’s most important social scientists, documenting the unfiltered American spirit in #OurTowns. I can’t stop reading this book.
Congrats on a fantastic & well-deserved segment.
Great segment this AM. I’m a Greenville native living in DC. When I go home to visit family I’m astonished at how much it’s changed in the last twenty years.
@CBSSunday and @JamesFallows and @FallowsDeb thank you for showing our wonderful Greenville! Yay! @MayorKnoxWhite #YeahTHATgreenville
Congrats @JamesFallows on a wonderful @CBSSunday feature on your and Deb’s new book. Excited to have you both @chq this summer to share the story.
@JamesFallows absolutely wonderful story on CBS this Morning. Spot on analysis. Towns with vision and courageous residents create great places to live, work, play and Learn.
I’ve lived in Louisville since 1992. There are issues here but there is far more to do here now (micro brews, restaurants, Arts, parks) that make it more interesting.
Looking for a graduation present? Whether for high school, college or grad school, you can't do better than Our Towns: a 100k Journey into the Heart of America by @JamesFallows & @FallowsDeb. It offers grounded optimism & energy for a new gen of changemakers. #americanrenewal
Wow, this resonates with what I am trying to with my "One Small Township" program that I launched in Nov 2017. Thanks for this article.
Excellent article on how small towns are moving forward in spite of Trump. Americans don’t realize how fast the country is moving toward becoming a better version of itself, writes @JamesFallows.
There’s no doubt, in community after community, there is urgency among local leaders to ensure the national narrative does not become local reality, via wave of new actions. Appreciate you shedding light on a different enthusiasm afoot.
Guess what? There’s still hope throughout/for America. Great piece from the local view across the nation by @JamesFallows. @TheAtlantic
Despite everything @JamesFallows concludes: "America is becoming more like itself again."
It's a brave thought and there's something to it--but we'll have to bear down to make it real
@JeffersonErie @SteveCase @vgr @Amy_Liuw
Crucial piece by @JamesFallows in @TheAtlantic. "Americans don’t realize how fast the country is moving toward becoming a better version of itself." If your view of the U.S. is the iceberg tip of national headlines, this is what the hidden 90% looks like.
Despite pessimism about national politics, Americans are optimistic about what’s happening in their own worlds — great @JamesFallows piece on American reinvention and becoming a better version of ourselves
Mark Twain said "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” @JamesFallows and @FallowsDeb save us from that, with a
new book showing how America remaking itself, one city at a time. http://bit.ly/2jf7DTa
The Reinvention of America https://theatln.tc/2I0bSzW @SteveCase: “Things are bubbling in these cities. It’s an untold story.” #RiseOfRest
A @JamesFallows piece that’s as uplifting as it is insightful.
Please read this @JamesFallows is today’s Alex D’tocquille. If you live in a metropolis and haven’t spent time In the American interior read this article. Otherwise, you are part of the problem.
This @TheAtlantic piece by @JamesFallows is incredibly important. Does heartland America have stories of dislocation and despair? Absolutely. Does it also have unrecognized stories of innovation and civic engagement? Yes and yes.
This is one of the best articles I have read in YEARS. Kudos, bravo, and deepest thanks, Mr. Fallows. I have experienced some of what you described after traveling the country for 8 months. This is stellar. Thank you.
All of this is to say that I buy Fallows’ argument that local civic engagement is powering real change in our country — one community at a time.
This is one of the best writings I’ve read in a long time. He describes exactly why I believe I have the best job in the world right now. Can’t wait for the book.
And outstanding piece. The insight and optimism @JamesFallows sees I have also seen. The country is energized, and sees the work ahead as noble. We are redoubtable & right - the last minutes of the film “Breaking Away”.
An extremely hopeful and energizing must-read article from @JamesFallows who toured America and sees a country being revitalized and energized on the local level. Great recommendations, too: Create connections, encourage engagement, rebuild local media.
@JamesFallows reconstructs #MakeAmericaGreatAgain in this article about the American positivity in local governments
Thank you @JamesFallows for your amazing coverage of the #civic renewal and #engagement happening across the country https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/05/reinventing-america/556856/ … "Civic governance. Even as national politics induces distrust and despair, most polls show rising faith in local governance."
Completely brilliant and uplifting! @JamesFallows
“Serious as the era’s problems are, more people, in more places, told us they felt hopeful about their ability to move circumstances the right way than you would ever guess from national news coverage of most political discourse” @JamesFallows @TheAtlantic
Great piece by @JamesFallows , reminds us that WDC politics is not who we are...
Every American needs to read this: “The Reinvention of America” in @TheAtlantic
@JamesFallows helped us see China, now helping us see ourselves. America is already great, and our towns and cities are on the rise.
Excited to read the book.
The good news we all need to hear: from the bottom bubbling up, America is becoming a better version of itself @JamesFallows
Read @JamesFallows's article "The Reinvention of America" not just because it's well-researched or previews forthcoming book. It's a hopeful, no-BS look at USA & power of civic engagement & community. We can still live up to neighbor-helping-neighbor ideal
I am very glad to see @JamesFallows address the importance of investing in places, and not just promoting mobility.
Great piece and looking forward to the book. Your work is very consistent with what we are finding in our travels for @themidpod.
America is becoming more like itself again, writes @JamesFallows. "Even as the country looks more homogenized and faceless in the parking lots of big malls, downtown by downtown it looks more distinctive and local."
I just read this last week and have been recommending it to colleagues. Thanks for mentioning libraries!
.@JamesFallows is right. America's is reinventing itself locally (even in the face of our incredibly dysfunctional national government): @TheAtlantic:
Great to see our work at @DavenportInst and @PepPublicPolicy noted in this terrific piece by @JamesFallows in the @TheAtlantic: https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2018/05/reinventing-america/556856/ … Putting public into public policy!
I'm very excited for this book from @JamesFallows. The impulse to understand & describe the financial lives of people included in, but elided by, national statistics is driving our work over the next year.