When a Company Invests in an 'Underdog City'
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.
Learning From the New Deal—For the Next 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.
How Michael Jones Changed Our Daily Lives
"Everyone is an inventor; you need only ignore limits and preconceptions then ask yourself 'how should it be?' "
Why Biden's Inaugural Address Succeeded
In 20 minutes, the president signaled how he will approach this job and this moment in history.
Time for Consequences
President-elect Joe Biden must look forward—but the rest of us must contend with the past.
What Post-pandemic Repair Could Look Like
An update, following a report last month, on plans to repair the damage now being done.
How Biden Should Investigate Trump
The misdeeds and destructive acts are legion. The new president should focus on these three.
Why Some Libraries Are Eliminating Fines
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?
How to Reconnect Rural and Urban America
Some recent items worth noticing
Trump's Indifference Amounts to Negligent Homicide
The president's behavior may not meet the term's legal definition, but it captures the horror a government is visiting upon its people.
What Happens After the Election
What else is going on in the country, with less than two weeks in this consequential election season?
A 'Climate Corps' of California Volunteers
Designed to address both the causes and the effects of California's exposure to climate change.
The Media Learned Nothing From 2016
The press hasn't broken its most destructive habits when it comes to covering Donald Trump.
The Sport That's Like Playing in a Jazz Quartet
"Rowing is a sport, everything else is a game."
A Note on Ted Halstead
From an early age, he thought, talked, promised, and achieved on a very big scale. I am very glad to have known and worked with him, and I hope his example will inspire many others.
'A Most Beautiful Thing' in a Time of Racial Reckoning
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 Cool-Media Approach to Conventions
The Democrats were forced out of the old, and figured out the new. How will Republicans respond?
The Artists of Lemmon, South Dakota
The role of the arts in a tiny town with its sights set high.
How a Small Brewery Can Survive COVID-19
A bellwether business category, figuring out how and whether it can survive.
Another Lesson From the Roman Empire
From Sulla to Sullen: What the Fall of the Roman Republic Tells Us About Where Trump Is Taking Us.
A Plan to Grow 90,000 Trees in Los Angeles
Using tree planting as an axis to connect job creation, climate sustainability, urban renewal, and economic equity and inclusion.
Michael Jones Receives Royal Honors
Awarded the 2020 Patron's Medal for his contribution to the development of geospatial information.
What happens to small companies now?
The path small, locally conscious firms are taking to survive the current economic and public health disaster.
Will Craft Brewing Survive?
Following up with breweries large and small around the country.
Three Guides to the Next America
How parts of America that still work can be applied to the parts now so badly failing.
The 3 Weeks That Changed Everything
Imagine if the National Transportation Safety Board investigated America's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Is This the Worst Year in Modern American History?
Comparing 2020 to 1968 offers some disquieting lessons for the present.
'This Is What We Train For'
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 Post-pandemic Future of Libraries
"I've never been prouder to be a librarian."
A Company That Helps You Find Job B
Sparking a Small-Town Business Ecosystem
From Military Service to Civilian Leadership
A Different Kind of Civil-Service Organization
A Rural Health Center With a Pandemic Plan
A New Way for Californians to Serve
Public Libraries' Novel Response to a Novel Virus
'Years of Effort, Undone in Weeks'
Local Efforts in a Time of Extreme Global Stress
A Portrait of Public Libraries
Dayton, Ohio, Is 'a Place That Knows What It Is'
How Artists Build the Spirit of a Town
The University of Dayton Is Reinventing Town-Gown Relations
New Jobs, New Residents, and New Possibilities
Ajo, Arizona, is the story of a better America
An Artist-in-Residence Creates a Sense of Place
Report for America Goes Big
Photos Can Trigger Change in a Town
The Death and Afterlife of the Mall
Democrats Should Talk About Place-Based Policy
In Defense of The Commercial Appeal
The Modern Women of Rural America
On the Virtues of Statewide Journalism
Planting a 'Trail of Giants'
In Memphis, A Lab Experiment for Local News
The Gem City Moves Forward
The New Approach to Local Journalism
A River of Words in Pittsburgh
'We're Doing It for Love of Community'
Rebuilding After Incarceration
How Art Can Renew a Community
Building Your Future in Indiana
A Big Little Idea From Nashville
There's Hope for Local Journalism
The Library That's Also an Art Gallery
A "hub of Winston-Salem in touch with the people."
The Surprising Rural Health-Care Legacy of the '60s
Eastport Grapples with Health-Care
'Local, Local, Local':
How a Small Newspaper Survives
The Gift of a Public Library
A legacy that continues.
Flying Down East
Headed back to Eastport
The Power of a Community College
Readers weigh in
The Choices Facing Community Colleges
Decisions critical to the future of these institutions so crucial to this economic and political moment
A Public Library of, by, and for the People
A "how to" on staying relevant through invention and reinvention
How a City Talks About Itself
Sioux Falls in 2019
Three Big Lessons From One Small Town
Connections, parallel themes, and lessons from Danville
Sioux Falls is Ready for Tom Hanks
A progress report
'A River, Not A Border': Report from Brownsville
Striving together for good health and well being in a Texas border town.
The American Sense of Place
An update: Reactions from readers and significant local-renewal developments
When Small Towns Take the Big Stage
Connecting Ajo, Columbus, and Erie
The Rituals of 'Becoming America'
Can 'civic religion' help America become a better, freer, fairer, finer version of itself?
A Public Library Brings Opportunity to the Blind
The Heiskell Library in NYC provides both unique and also ordinary library services to its clientele.
Report for America Revives Possibilities for Local Journalism
A promising movement, in discouraging times.
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.
A Regional Approach to Rural Healthcare Challenges
God's Storehouse, a food pantry serving low-income people along this southernmost border where Virginia meets North Carolina.
How Danville Has Avoided Omaha's Mistake
How the bittersweet heritage of old buildings in Danville, Virginia has helped them avoid the mistakes of Omaha..
Bitwise Goes Big
Fresno tech startup, Bitwise gets $27 million in funding to expand its operations.
The Reinvention of a Downtown: Danville's Story Part 2
A snapshot of the efforts paying off in reviving Danville's downtown.
Father's Day 2019
The Reinvention of Danville's Downtown: Part 1
A factory town coming back
A Community Within A Community
Restoring Spirit and Pride in Danville
How a 'Communiversity' Works
Real collaboration in Mississippi
When Libraries are 'Second Responders'
Everyone knows about first responders.
I've come to think of libraries as playing a crucial role as "second responders."
An Engineering School Pulls Off an 'Epic Trick Play'
Daring and Guts Pay off for Trine University
What David Halberstam Learned in Mississippi
A Journalistic Icon's First Lessons
Can Schools 'Teach Students to Think'?
A reader's response
National Policies Have Local Effects
Changes — in trade policies, and for refugees — are making the United States more closed, rather than more open
How to Teach Students to Think
Students getting a 'first chance' at MSMS
The Last Family-Owned Daily in Mississippi
How one local paper survives
Dead Malls, Everywhere
Readers weigh in on malls past their prime
On Emancipation Day, Back to Mississippi
A return visit to the Golden Triangle
Dead Malls, Reborn Cities
Ideas from the readers
What Happens to Abandoned Malls?
'Unknown Outside Indiana'
An Unusual Way to Bridge the Town-Gown Divide
What We Saw in Muncie
How a university is helping a town move forward
Fort Wayne Makes Its Own Luck
Breadth, density, and boldness of experimentation
A Community Finding a Path Forward
The civic-renewal mix in Angola, Indiana
A report on progress in Eastport.
'Our Erie' Tells Its Story
Meanwhile in America:
'New Americans' in the Rust Belt
'Let's Care About Someone Who Does Not Belong to Our Tribe'
A Big Step for Little Eastport
A new life for the Seacoast Canning Company
Flying Into the Deep South
All Progress Is Local:
New Year's Notes from Around the Country
Happy New Year:
See You in June
Returning to Ohio
How a small, Midwestern town has changed over the decades—and where it aims to go
A Post-Election Field Report From America's Refugees and Immigra
Words and stories from the towns where the newest Americans live
The Treasures of Birmingham
For almost a century, the local library has guarded its city's history.
Why Not Dodge? Why Not Stockton?
What the Renewable-Energy Economy Looks Like
A Renewable Energy Revolution in Small-town America
Update on the Eastport Saga
The never-say-die city
Refugees, Immigrants, and the Battle Over Who Is American
What It Takes to Settle Refugees
The people of Erie, Pennsylvania, have welcomed immigrants and refugees, and believe that their town is better off for having done so.
Annals of Renewal:
MTP Podcast, Knight Competition
The Generational Difference in Optimism: A Video Look
Older People Moan, Younger People Hope
Is America in a Boiling Fury About Immigration?
Not the America I Have Seen
And Now for Something Saner and More Positive:
Life in the Air
Getting from here to there by small plane
Old City, Old Buildings, New Life
An art museum with a long history reinvents itself with passion and an entrepreneurial spirit.
The Ebbs and Flows of Coastal Maine
Quoddy Village was built ahead of its time
Libraries Reach Out to the Public
Erie's Unlikely Benefactor: Its Casino
Legalized gambling is a familiar part of the modern American landscape. But an innovative scheme in a lakeside city in western Pennsylvania shows new possibilities for putting casino revenue to positive public use.
Cattle Drives in Down East Maine
Little Town, Big Art
The arts at the center of economic and civic plans
A Waterfront Library
In Erie, Pennsylvania, a public institution is building on its nautical past to open a world of opportunity for local residents.
The World Comes to a Tiny Town
Eastport's Lesson in Globalization
Eastport Update: Electric Power from the Sea
Generation from currents
Notes From the Rest of the Country:
'Now That I've Got a Look at This Place, It's Not So Bad!'
'America Is a Dream Country'
What does it mean to spend years as a Syrian refugee and then land in a brand new life in Erie, Pennsylvania?
Erie and America
The challenges of Rust Belt America are real, and well-known. What's less familiar is the response some mid-sized cities are making.
The Education of Ryan Lochte
What he could learn from America's public pools
A Carnegie Legacy in Dodge City
Synergy of arts and civic life in a Kansas town
Dodge City Postcard
Notes from the ground, from the sky, and from the people of Dodge City, Kansas
What's (Less) the Matter With Kansas
Educating Migrant Children in Dodge City
"We're a port of entry 1,000 miles from the border."
Dodge City's New Frontier
A high school in the famed Kansas town is embracing its rapidly changing demographics.
A Different Kind of 'Trump Nation' Report
New Pioneers in Southwest Kansas
Mexican immigrants on the Great Plains try to build new lives, with hope and help.
The Story of Ernestor
Dodge City, Kansas relies on undocumented immigrants—from meatpacking workers to the city's assistant finance director.
From the Air Traffic Controller's Perspective
What Rural Economies Look Like From Above
In Kansas, the advent of an energy industry is inscribing itself on the physical landscape, adding wind farms to wheat farms.
A Note About Trumpism, From the 'Real America'
The Multi-Dimensional Reality of the Nation,
vs. the Flattened Reality of National Politics
A Good Start
More on the Public Role in Fostering Private Innovation
America by Air:
The Maker Movement:
If Hamilton Were Around, He Would Be a Fan
Finding Health Care in the Desert
With the closest hospital 100 miles away, Ajo, Arizona's Desert Senita Health Center acts as the region's clinic
The Surprising Problem With U.S. Manufacturing:
It's Creating Too Many Jobs
The Maker Revolution:
What It Has Changed, and What It Hasn't — Yet
Why the Maker Movement Matters: Part 2, Agility
Business are finding that "makerspaces" enable them to reduce what's known as the mind-to-market gap: how long it takes for an idea to become a thing on a shelf.
'Mr. China' on Making Things in America
'The Last Best Hope for Public STEM Education in Mississippi'
Budget Challenges at a Remarkable Mississippi School
An update on what's happening at the Mississippi School for Mathematics and Science.
Farming in the Desert
A small town in Arizona grows a thriving food scene.
Why the Maker Movement Matters: Part 1, the Tools Revolution
Just like the internet before it, the Maker Movement is revolutionizing manufacturing, with implications for startups and jobs.
Deb Fallows at the University of Redlands
Awards for Civic Engagement:
37 New Examples
Wichita, Salisbury, Knoxville, Seattle: Revival Updates
America 2016, in 2 Quotes
On National Beer Day, Craft Brewers Improving Water, and Life,
In More Ways than One
Hmmm, Why Does This Sound Familiar?
No, I'm Not Kidding, They Actually Matter in Civic Development!
From Fresno to Duluth to Allentown, with Montana in Between
Checklists for Success,
from Knoxville to Salt Lake City and Beyond
Language as Art in Pittsburgh
Exiled writers use words as art and inspire a community.
Startups Creating Jobs in the United States, Around the World
-- and Now in Cuba
Listening to Montana
In Chester, Montana, a world away from city life inspires an artist's music.
Shifting Back to Better News: What's Happening in Ohio
How Libraries Are Becoming Modern Makerspaces
They've long served as communal gathering spots, but these civic institutions are becoming gateways to technological tinkering.
With the PBS NewsHour
in Greenville, SC
A Public Library Tells the Civic Story of a Town
Greenville's public library puts its past and present on full display: mills, racial history, internationalism, public-private collaborations, and culture.
Local Success, National Paralysis:
How Does it Balance Out?
Tech Meets Art in Middle School
A South Carolina public school gives tech-savvy students a sense of humanity.
Hmmm, This Sounds Like Something I Would Agree With
Hmmm, Where Have We Heard This Before? (Super Tuesday Edition)
In Which Warren Buffett Agrees With Me (or Perhaps Vice Versa)
Talking About a Second Gilded Age, With 'On Point' Listeners
'The Looming Entrepreneurial Boom': Kauffman Weighs In
Brand-new companies play a surprisingly important part in progress toward fuller employment. A new report says that the prospects for start-ups may be improving.
A Police Shooting Case in Mississippi
How America Is Putting Itself Back Together
Most people in the U.S. believe their country is going to hell. But they're wrong. What a three-year journey by single-engine plane reveals about reinvention and renewal.
Fareed Zakaria GPS, and Another Traveler's Views
Mississippi Students Write About Life in Their Home State
Inspiring young writers connect with their literary legacy
Pitching in to Save a Library
In San Bernardino, one way to help save the city is to save its library.
What Presidential Campaigns Show About Civic Fiber
American Futures Master List:
Some of the Hundreds of Places We Would Like to Go
"There is more going on, in more places, than you imagined."
Welcome Our Newest National Monuments!
Often it seems that modern presidents can't do anything — except wage war. Here's a heartening exception.
Punching Above Their Weight in Mississippi
Mississippi schools come in #49 in many national rankings. Read these essays and poems by high school students from Columbus, Mississippi. Then tell the folks who make up the rankings that they need a different algorithm.
America's Libraries: Old Institutions Becoming Very New Again
Most people associate libraries with fustiness, quiet, and a previous era in technology. But across the country, they're embracing new technology to fill important new civic roles.
Can America Put Itself Back Together? Kicking Off Another Season
Across the country, people think America is going to hell—but things look better here locally. Why the general tone of the moment's politics is wrong.
Civic Engagement Talk in America's Original Engaged Communities
The Chautauqua Institution is one of America's great centers for civil, cultural, and intellectual engagement. A talk about 21st-century American renewal, at a place whose history traces to a great 19th-century reform movement.
Another Look at Maine Maritime:
Who Is Providing Value, to Whom, and How?
Wondering Why We Like Fresno?
Some people are smug about the coolness of New York or San Francisco. Those places are nice, but Jim Fallows much prefers "the kick-ass spirit" of Fresno.
Jim and Deb Fallows Talk "American Futures" with Kai Ryssdal
A Library Writes Its Own Story
A California library becomes a living legend.
How public swimming pools show you the heart of a town
A Library of Good Ideas
Formula for success in Central Oregon: know the users, spot the opportunities, act with vigor.
An Innovative Library in Oregon, and Other Reports From the Road
Kicking off reports from the inland Northwest, plus a happy birthday to James Baldwin
Why an F-16 Hit a Cessna, and Some More-Upbeat Updates
Sobering news from the NTSB, but encouraging news from Maine to California
America and Iran, at Walden Pond
From his tiny room in Tehran, an Iranian scholar imagined what a classic American scene would look like. Here is what happened when he had a chance to see for himself.
The New New York Public Library
Preserving tradition while expanding offerings for a bigger, broader audience.
The Good Ol' Days of the Motor Hotel Are Back
The metamorphosis of a Bend, Oregon, motel—from its classic origins, to crack house, to upscale rustic elegance
When High School Means a Build-It-Yourself Education
A charter school in Oregon encourages students to shape their own learning
The San Bernardino Story: Fire Fighters Weigh In
Who is to blame when a struggling city runs out of money? A public-safety worker says it's unfair to point the finger at him and his colleagues. Plus, a young resident of the city discovers reasons to hope.
A Community College at the Center of an Oregon Recovery Story
When the lumber industry left, the region bet its future on technology—even though it lacked a research university
How to Tell Oregon Apart From New Jersey
If Chris Christie had thought of this for his state's gas stations, maybe he'd be doing better in the 2016 race now
Building for the Future, In California's Famously Failed City
Can education save San Bernardino?
Sports and Civic Life, Bend Elks Edition
An evening at the ballpark, with Vinnie the Elk and friends
Summer in the Pacific Northwest
The Bend, Oregon, Elks open their baseball season
American Futures: The Pacific Northwest Edition
It's still a bigger, more varied, and more vigorous country than most people would guess.
American Futures Updates, from MS to AZ to CA
NPR conveys the sound of an innovative school in Mississippi, plus other news from the road
A High School That Changes Lives, One at a Time
Teachers and students in a bankrupt California city, determined to make progress
Post-Memorial Day Note: Another Kind of Service, San Bernardino
"I don't just sit around. I don't sleep much. That's what I do. I do stuff." The story of a man determined to do something for his town.
Isabella Greenway, Pioneering American Woman
The first Arizonan congresswoman, a lifelong friend of Eleanor Roosevelt, lived a remarkable life.
Today a Bankrupt City Votes on Its Next Steps
"We've gotten used to gridlock and stalemate at the national level. This is what it looks like for a city." What civic dysfunction has in common with excessive CEO pay, and why it matters.
The Battle for Downtown, From Canada to the Carolinas
"It is strange, but true." What one reader says about Raleigh, North Carolina, applies many other places as well.
What It's Like When Your City Goes Broke
San Bernardino, California, is poor, and has a high unemployment rate, and is affected by drought, and is in bankruptcy court. But its real problem is something else.
An Incredible Time-Capsule View of One Downtown's Development
Can tearing up a noted artistic zone be a path to civic success? City leaders say yes, while some of their citizens say no.
Cars, Pedestrians, and the Struggle for the Future of Downtowns
Plus: how much is any discussion of "downtown" a coded talk about race?
California's Improbable Navel-Orange Queen
Eliza Tibbets was a suffragist, abolitionist, and spiritualist—and the mother of California's orange industry.
Fresno to South Bend to Louisville:
The Elusive Elements of Civic Success
Can Cars Save Downtown?
Fresno, California prepares to rip up its landmark pedestrian mall and replace it with a street.
A Word Cloud of Ajo, Arizona
The words we use about ourselves reveal surprising truths
'Generation Now' —
What people do when there seems to be nothing to do.
Asheville Just 'Happened' to Develop a Nice Downtown—or Did It
In the immortal words from Liberty Valance, "when the legend becomes fact, print the legend." Herewith the legend and reality of Asheville.
A Visit to the Shanghai Public Library
Aging manuscripts share the building with makerspaces.
Equal Time for Tampa, and More on Asheville Too
Catching up with changes in major cities, and in the Atlantic's own web site
More on Nice Downtowns: Do They Just Happen? Or Are They Made?
Tampa has kept trying to revive its downtown, and has kept failing. Asheville has been wildly successful—but was it even trying at all?
The Dilemmas of Maker Culture
Thinking through the consequences of the proliferation of powerful tools and technologies
Nice Downtowns: How Did They Get That Way?
"Visitors think, 'That's just how Seattle is.' But it wasn't." Lessons via places ranging from Fresno to Shanghai.
How Makerspaces Help Local Economies
New technologies like 3-D printers and laser cutters have boosted entrepreneurial activity in American communities.
Three Ways of Thinking About Fresno (and Why You Should Care)
A beleaguered city shows the path toward revival.
Boulder, Colorado: A Special Kind of Community
An exaggerated version of a college town, it's the perfect setting for an unusually participatory conference.
Growing Up in Ajo
What it takes to get from the desert to college
From Xizhou to Eastport to Ajo: Big Dreams in Small Towns
The same kind of ambition you see in political campaigns, races for sports championships, or attempts to score a big IPO—but toward a different end.
Creating California's New Bohemia—in an Unexpected Locale
"It's a great time to be an artist in Fresno." This is a possibility I had never considered before visiting. And now ...
Ajo, Arizona: Oasis in the Desert
How a city with century-old "good bones" tries to reinvent itself.
Ajo, Arizona: A Small Town Pushed to the Brink, and Coming Back
What does a town do when most of its people lose their jobs nearly overnight? For the people of this small town, the surprising answer places heavy emphasis on the arts.
On the Road, in Arizona and Colorado
A small city struggling to come back, a larger one already thriving, and the implications for civic vitality
Downtown Fresno Kicks Off Its Campaign
Why "unapologetic" may be the most important word in a city's recovery plan
'The Blue and the Gray'
A historically oriented performance comes from New York to the Southern site that inspired it.
How People in Boulder Build Community out of a Conference
An annual meeting brings speakers from around the world together with students and local residents, in intimate settings.
Stages of a Downtown Comeback: Fresno Begins the Long Climb
Urban revivals require a shared narrative, private-sector partners, and a public official championing a far-sighted plan.
Fresno's Tiniest Citizens
An elementary school of and for the urban community
Among California's Centers of Technology: Fresno?
How would you build a high-tech center in a vast farming zone? You might start by applying tech solutions to farming problems of water use and sustainability in all forms.
Reinventing High School
How Fresno prepares the kids in the middle
Next Up From Fresno: High School for Overlooked 'Kids in the Mid
Public schools often end up concentrating on students with obvious promise at the very top, and with obvious problems at the bottom. Here is one designed to foster opportunities for everyone else.
Welcome to American Futures 3.0
A new season of reports on a renewing America
Talking With Dan Richard About High-Speed Rail
The chairman of California's costly and controversial infrastructure project explains why (in his view) it actually will get built—and whether its champion, 77-year-old Governor Jerry Brown, is likely to be able to take a ride.
A Calculated Risk I Decided Not to Take
"Here we were doing what was a 'strafing run' down the highway and talking to Snake Eye and looking for the craters at the south end of the corridor." Why we made this last leg of the journey by car.
Ask and Ye Shall Be Told, Mystery Airplane Edition
Sometimes crowdsourcing pays off.
When I Grow Up ...
Darth Vader vs. Casper the Friendly Ghost, on an airport tarmac
On SOTU Day, Some Next Steps in Civic Life
A conference in Washington, a development across the country
California High-Speed Rail: The Collector's Edition
An index to the arguments pro and con about the most ambitious infrastructure project in the United States
California High-Speed Rail: A Minor End, an Important Beginning
Who should get the benefit of the doubt when we consider the unknowable future?
How to Create a Tech Startup Scene
Pittsburgh's success provides important and surprising clues.
A Rural High School with a 21st Century Outlook
A California school prepares its students for success.
The Long Stretch Home
The fourth day of a cross-country flight
Revisiting The Atlantic's Dust Bowl Series
The third day of a cross-country flight
That Winning Bid for California's High-Speed Rail:
Is It Suspiciously Low?
California High-Speed Rail: It's Happening
Three weeks from now, a groundbreaking ceremony on the most important infrastructure project now underway in the United States
A Vibrant American Musical Career, far From America's Cultural C
What Larry Groce discovered by launching a national radio program from an out-of-the-way location
How the Arts Drove Pittsburgh's Revitalization
The role of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust, founded by a wealthy band of visionaries 30 years ago, is central—but hard to replicate.
The Past Is Never Past: Slave Labor in the West Virginia Salt Wo
"It is not fair to the men who were forced to work in this industry to celebrate the salt without celebrating them as well."
Connecting Dots Over America
The second day of a cross-country flight
Another Look at Salt-Harvesting in West Virginia
Combine ancient ingredients with a modern sensibility, and a new business takes form.
Artisanal Salt From an Ancient Sea
A different kind of underground wealth is the source of a new business in West Virginia.
Flying West From the Winter
The first day of a cross-country flight
On the Politics of American Resilience
One reader urges me to embrace my inner conservative. Other readers say: Not so fast!
Thanksgiving in the Dust Bowl
A new understanding of bravery and independence
How Political Leadership Makes City Streets Bikeable
Pittsburgh's Mayor Bill Peduto shows what political will and determination can do.
What Millennials Love About Pittsburgh
'Land of Opportunity' has real meaning here.
A New Vocabulary for American Towns
Three 21st-century words that are driving the nation's most dynamic municipalities
How Green Riverfronts Transformed Pittsburgh
The City of Bridges revives the rivers that helped make it an economic powerhouse.
A Field Trip to America's Public Libraries
How they serve the needs of their communities
America's Tiniest Innovators: Report from Pittsburgh
Teaching technology and life lessons in an urban elementary school
The Story of Moop: How an Unlikely Company Came to Be
A Pittsburgh woman managed to build a successful bag company from a failed effort to make a dress.
California Dreamin': How Collaboration Builds Communities
In Winters, California, a library, a swimming pool, and a school make a big difference in the quality of life.
The iPhone Case That Can Call the Police
A startup in Pittsburgh has designed a smartphone case and app to deter assault and help catch the attackers.
What a Library Levy Means to a West Virginia Town
Charleston votes to save a community pillar.
The Company That Turns Plastic Bottles Into Fabric—and Jobs
A startup in Pittsburgh shows what a social enterprise is capable of.
How to Sign Up for Our 'American Futures' Newsletter
"At the national level, American politics is bitterly polarized, and the mood of the country can seem fearful and downcast. But city by city we've seen examples of collaboration, practical-minded compromise, long-term investment in a region's future, and a coast-to-coast resurgence in manufacturing and other startup activity."
The Hard Road to Making Hard Liquor
A look at a nascent distillery in Pennsylvania's Lehigh Valley
Pittsburgh's City of Asylum
In the City of Bridges, an eclectic community embraces writers in exile.
When a Community College Transforms a City
Ohio State University may be the local titan, but Columbus State Community College has also become a formidable presence.
The Flying Housewife
50 years ago, Jerrie Mock became the first woman to fly solo around the world.
Hip in the Heartland
It's not just Brooklyn and the Bay Area any more
No. 14: Why You Shouldn't Get Your Hopes Up for a Self-Driving C
"Would you prefer a system where you can be instantly teleported from SF to LA? Of course. But that doesn't mean it's going to happen."
Today's Mid-Air Collision Outside Washington
"This reminds us how vulnerable we all are." Lessons from a tragedy
Going Home to Columbus
A generation returns to build lives and a town.
Making Mead in a Space-Age World
A new craft-beverage business in Allentown, Pennsylvania, benefits from its association with an incubator of high-tech businesses.
In Which I Am Recruited to Switch Political Teams
"What you are discovering on your road trip is the genius of conservatism."
California High-Speed Rail Lucky No. 13:
Let's Look at Maglev and Other Alternatives. "Should we invest in infrastructure? Absolutely! But the right kind of infrastructure." Some ideas on what that might mean.
National Problems, Local Solutions: More Reports From Ohio
America and Americans in the active, not passive, mode
When 'Collaboration' Is More Than a Buzzword
The story of a business partnership that stands to boost the economy of Columbus, Ohio, and the surrounding region
A Creative Way to Educate Low-Income Students
In Columbus, Ohio, an innovative school has patched together state funds, work study, and grants to give at-risk kids a high-quality education.
What the Beer Industry and the Computer Industry Have in Common
They grew up in the same era and, despite some obvious differences, have some surprising parallels.
Pennsylvania's Beer Economy
Brewers have been perfecting their recipes in this part of the country since the middle of the 19th century.
No. 12: All Aboard for the California High-Speed Rail Chronicles
In next month's election, Jerry Brown is seeking a fourth term as California's governor and public support for his plan for a north-south bullet train to transform travel in a car-dependent state. Here is more of what's at stake.
Ingredients of a Better City: How Arts Play Their Part
A soft-power approach to hard economic and social problems
How to Attract Artists to a Down-and-Out Neighborhood
Columbus, Ohio, has figured out how to draw creative types to an area it is hoping to revitalize.
How the Boy Scouts Are Adapting to Modern American Life
A local example of a century-old organization finding a new place and role for itself
Not Your Mother's Library
How Columbus, Ohio, is building community spaces for the 21st century
Re-Knitting the Frayed Social Fabric: What Libraries Can Do
As Ohio goes, so goes the nation—or at least we can hope so in this case.
Urban Comeback Stories in 2 Swing States
Tales from two cities, plus the secret of the writing life
Wasted Waterfronts: Why Cities Struggle to Build Along Rivers
The story of Allentown, Pennsylvania, as it turns its attention to a long-neglected asset
Remaking Columbus's Most Downtrodden Neighborhood
Franklinton long has been called "The Bottoms." But not for much longer.
A Day on the Road: A Story-Map View of Allentown
What you find is usually not quite what you were looking for.
The Iron Pigs Come to Allentown
Changing the spirit of a town with sports
Iron Pigs Rising
Another strand in the fibers of civic connection
Water, Water, Everywhere: Lehigh Valley Edition
Allentown deals with fiscal problems from its past with a bet about water supplies for its future
The City That Turned Its Water Into Cash
"We've got unfunded obligations in the hundreds of millions. What can we leverage?"
Vaulting to Great Heights in Allentown
How girls from the Lehigh Valley become world-class gymnasts
First Bowling Alone, Now Vaulting Together
From Tocqueville onward, observers have thought that informal organizations held America together. Are any of them left?
The 100% Renewable-Powered City: Too Good to be True?
Balancing substance and symbolism in the movement toward cleaner energy sources
Breathing Life Into Allentown: Pennsylvania Comes to the Rescue
What does it take to raise a city? More than a village. In fact, it may take a whole state.
Greening Up in Burlington, Rocking Out in Allentown
As American government seems ever more paralyzed at the national level, cities continue to find ways to grapple with real problems. Two more examples.
Countdown to Tonight's Arena Debut in Allentown
Is the city ready for its close-up? The locals say it is.
The Eagles Come to Allentown, and So Does 'American Futures'
Tomorrow is the first day in an old city's new life—or so the city leaders hope and believe.
California High-Speed Rail No. 11: Thinking in Time
Everybody talks about the future, but nobody does anything about it.
California High-Speed Rail No. 10: Palate Cleanser
"The decision on HSR is going to shape the future in ways we can't predict, and a touch of modesty in the arguments would be welcome."
California High-Speed Rail No. 9—the Chairman's Turn Again
You want to hear more about the biggest infrastructure project being considered anywhere in the country? You've come to the right place.
California High-Speed Rail No. 8—More Questions and Concerns
"Bad, bad, bad," and other critiques
The Courts Speak Up for California High-Speed Rail (No. 7)
And so do some readers.
California High-Speed Rail No. 6: Some Views From the Valley
People in Los Angeles and San Francisco often say that the initial links in a proposed north-south system would be "trains to nowhere." People from nowhere weigh in.
California High-Speed Rail No. 5: 10 Readers With 10 Views
A solution looking for a problem? A genuine leap forward? The best we can expect from messy political half-measures? Or something truly brave? Take your pick.
California High-Speed Rail No. 4: 7 Ways in Which High-Speed Rai
For your reference, the chairman's detailed pro-and-con about the most ambitious current attempt to change America's transportation infrastructure
California High-Speed Rail No. 3: Let's Hear From the Chairman
It's time for broader national attention to the most expensive and ambitious infrastructure proposal in America today.
California High-Speed Rail No. 2 — The Critics' Case
Every big infrastructure project is controversial. Most of them work out better than critics contend early on. But maybe the critics are right about high-speed rail. Let's hear what they say.
It Takes a Village—to Staff a Factory
"It indeed is an oasis, but the passion and commitment are replicable elsewhere." A Kenyan-born man working in Mississippi on some of the things the state has done right.
The California High-Speed Rail Debate—Kicking Things Off
The Erie Canal. The transcontinental railroad. The Interstate Highway system. Big, expensive, controversial—and indispensable. Is the next one in this series a new rail network in our most famously freeway-centric state?
Raj Shaunak and the Economic Boom in Eastern Mississippi
It's one thing to draw high-skill, high-wage jobs to a place that has historically lacked opportunities. It's something else altogether to find people qualified to fill them. A local answer to a national question.
Smaller Towns as Talent Magnets: The Chance to Make Things Work
"The kind of people who might have gone to NASA in the 1960s, Wall Street in the 1980s, or Silicon Valley in the late 1990s are now, I think, more likely than ever to work in municipal government." So says a well-educated young small-town mayor.
Reparations, from Minnesota to Mississippi
The regional differences, and similarities, in the long struggle to come to terms with racial injustice in the United States.
Americana: Wade Stadium, Home of the Huskies
An evening in the ballpark, a look into the sports-in-America beat.
Now That Mississippi Is in the News
Can the media avoid a freak-show tone?
Build Your Own 3D Printer
High-school science projects from Mississippi
The Endless Civil War Goes On
Northerners and Southerners, blacks and whites, grapple once more with the question of "what's the worst we will put up with?"
The Endless Civil War, Continued
"Should the people in Mississippi stay poor? I would suggest taking a serious look at the answer 'yes'." So says a reader who lives elsewhere.
The Modern Orphans of Mississippi
"Actually, the children live very well."
Heavy Industry in the Mississippi 'Prairie':
Why Are These Factories Here?
The Civil War That Does Not End
How to talk, in the 21st century, about the war that divided the country in the 19th century, and the racial patterns set up by slavery long before
Mapping America's Prospects, in Mississippi and Elsewhere
Images that illustrate the challenges and opportunities Americans face region-by-region
A Real Story of Memorial Day
The origins of this weekend's holiday, linking Mississippi and The Atlantic
Theories of History: Joe Max Higgins & the Golden Triangle
"When Eurocopter came here, people started walking upright a little bit." Why has this part of Mississippi pulled ahead of some others?
Students From Mississippi Write About Their State
"MSMS is often referred to as the most diverse square mile in the state of Mississippi, alluding to academic interests, ethnicities, belief systems, aspirations, and much more," a high school senior writes. "It's true."
A Mississippi School Striving for Excellence
A unique school fuels big dreams
Emancipation Day Commemoration in Eastern Mississippi
"It's not a black thing. It's not a white thing. It's an American thing."
The New Industrial Belt: The Deep South
Does America still "make things?" Come take a look ... in Mississippi.
A Song of America's Downtowns
A heartening surprise of our travel so far: the breadth, seriousness, and—in some places—success of the effort to revitalize small-town downtowns. Or, what 3 programmers from Uzbekistan taught us about America.
Beer Notes From All Over, Starkville Edition
This is the new America.
The Spirit of Easter, Small-Airport Edition
Unexpected hospitality on the road.
Dipthongs turn into monopthongs, and other adventures among the cypress knees.
The Seas? The Skies? The Transformation of a Company Town, II
One economic titan has fallen, another has taken its place, but a city wants to expand its options.
St. Marys Interlude: The Okefenokee
Ever wondered what one of America's most famous swamps looks like? Wonder no more.
The Word Cloud of a Town
How the people of Sioux Falls describe themselves and their hometown
The Transformation of a Company Town: St. Marys, I
What happens when the company shuts down?
A High School That Teaches Students to Fly, and Other Innovation
"A lot of problem-solving skills grow out of the experience of doing things rather than thinking about things."
'Career Technical' Education: More Middle in the Middle Class?
Training students for jobs that are less likely to be outsourced, de-skilled, or stuck at minimum wage.
'Where Do You Go to Church?' The Video and Mapping Versions
More ways of taking the measure of this vast country.
The Vermont Lake Monsters, and Other Updates From the Road
Are people in smaller towns "nicer" than cosmopolitans? No. But their political structures are working better.
The Glamorous Life of a Journalist, Couples-Getaway Edition
Addressing America's infrastructure crisis, while people are staying right in the infrastructure.
Greenville, Burlington, and American Futures
"I loathed it with the heat of a thousand million suns."
What 'Career Technical' Education Looks Like
From a High School in Southern Georgia
What My School Means to Me: Essays from 3 High Schoolers
How students at an unusual school think—and write—about their experience.
On the Road Again: St. Marys
Starting the Mardi Gras festivities early in southernmost Georgia
East, West, and Points in Between
Where the Pacific Ocean is east of the Atlantic
Why We Never Get Over High School
Across the nation, people have different questions they ask when meeting someone new. There are hidden meanings in all of them -- including a popular one about schooling.
The Parks and Recreation Theory of America's Future
What we discuss at the national level has surprisingly little to do with startup decisions. Some provocative data about where America is growing, and why.
The Power of Mapping
Geospatial information is changing the way we approach the world around us. Here's an example.
There's a Reason They Call It 'Eastport'
East is east, and west is west, and the twain can meet -- sort of
What We Mean When We Say Hello
The curious geography of American greetings
So, Where Do You Live? What Do You Do?
Dreaming Big in South Carolina:
A Public Boarding School for the Arts
Dadgum! Katy, Bar the Door!
Speaking Your Mind in South Carolina
Smaller-Town Startups: 'Stopping the Brain Drain' in SC
'People say, this is my ticket Out.' Then, they want to stay.
America's Tiniest Engineers:
Report From Greenville, South Carolina
In Which I Develop New Respect for the Wedding-Industrial Comple
We know that football players are brave. But spare a thought as well for bride-magazine models.
Welcome to Greenville and 'The Upstate'
A region that has willed its way to a new economic and civic identity.
Separated at Birth?
Greenville, Sioux Falls
Why Do Tech Companies End Up Where They Are?
"You get some clusters, and some stand-alone firms far from anyone else. But rarely anything in-between."
Ice Cream, Chocolate, Coffee, and Beer
Take ingredients and blend, for small-town synergy.
Luck? Planning? Karma? The Elements of a Small Town's High-Tech
A software company grows in an unlikely setting. "Why here?" we ask the founders.
An American Dream:
A YMCA With a Circus
On the Character of a Community: What Local Narratives Emphasize
The role of universities, and our un-loved public efforts.
A City's Turning Points
The steps toward success, or failure, and why our understanding of them matters.
A School With a Sense of Place
From the Tree to the Table: The Journey of a Brave Little Orange
The surprising complexity behind even the simplest-seeming aspects of modern life.
A 4th-Generation Orange Farmer, on Why He Sticks With It
"I was born in the grove. I was raised in the grove. I developed an intense dislike of farming in the grove." Yet after 20 years around the world he has come back.
On the Limits, but Also the Power, of Local Narratives
The stories cities tell about themselves, and the difference that makes.
Inside the Packing House
Viewing an ordinary fruit with new respect.
Reports From the Road: Hangar 24 and a Student-Run Farm
The variety of America, chapter 12,825
When Rails Make the Difference, From Down East to the Southwest
The loss of rail service into a small Maine town has been crippling
American Futures Heads West
Back on the road and in the air.
'Springbok, Cleared for Landing':
More on the Language of the Skies
Building a Museum: Report From Down East
A Maine couple defies the odds -- and helps to build community in the process.
'Tis the L.L.Bean Season
For Pinball Wizards and Wicked Good Wieners
Career-Oriented Education vs. the Liberal Arts
Readers weigh in with compelling opinions on Maine Maritime Academy, liberal-arts colleges, and big questions.
Do You Speak Eastport?
A town teaches itself to talk positive.
Who Are You Calling a Vocational School?
In Defense of Maine Maritime
An Educational Surprise From Down East: Maine Maritime Academy
How a school you've (probably) never heard of is preparing students for good jobs.
Report from Rural Maine
What it takes to make a school
America-Going-to-Hell Watch, Heady Topper Dept.
Ever closer to the magical-unicorn ideal
Down East Down Under
When ships sailing downwind are sailing east
Small Town, Big Tides, Bigger Ambitions
Ocean Renewable Power in Eastport
How the #1 'Breakthrough' Helps Modern Communities Survive
The importance of communities, imagined and real.
Two Ways of Looking at a Landing
"The sea gull ... that would have been the worst."
Recognizing a kindred spirit.
Flying Up Down East
Travel to Eastport
Eastport Road Map
Global Meets Local in a Very Small Town
Eastport on Marketplace
Hearing voices you won't forget, from a small group of inventive and determined people.
Eastport, Maine, Population 1,300
On a per capita basis, one of the grittiest and most inventive places in America.
Notes Cheering and Otherwise, From an American Frontier
Where the country first sees the sunlight each day.
What Would an Ideal College Look Like?
A Lot Like This
Now, for More Good News About America: Avidyne to the Rescue!
When you have the opportunity to give a deserved compliment, don't let it pass.
EATNN TTUNA SNWCH - hold (at) MAYYO: More on the Secret Language
"The approach fixes, in order, are TRAMP, FLOZY, SILKY, and JAKOR. I'm sensing a pattern here but would love to know the back story."
ITAWT ITAWA PUDYE TTATT:
The Secret Language of the Skies
How Did a 'Public Ivy' Take Root in Vermont?
And the remarkable symbiosis that enriches both the city and its university
The Question We Keep Running Into: What Turns a Town Around?
Plus, a nationwide golden age of beer.
Shaping the Soul of a School
A New Type of Growing City
"This is where the talent wants to live"
Back on the Bright Side: Silicon Valley in Vermont
Why did this company end up on the shores of Lake Champlain, rather than on the San Francisco Bay or Puget Sound?
Magical Roundabouts and the Language of Signs
Exploring the sociocultural landscape of Burlington
On Making and Taking, in Trenton and Around the World
Respect for the Garden State and its industrial heritage.
Buying Local—the Google Angle
OK, I'm biased -- but I think this is an interesting new project.
Burlington Makes, the World Takes:
The Story of NRG Systems
From Burma to Burlington: The Story of 'Brings Luck'
A refugee finding a new life.
If You Thought a Profitable Newspaper Was Surprising, How About
More strange tales from the North Country.
Strange Tales From the North Country:
A profitable (print) newspaper
Beer Porn: The Alchemist Cannery
Going to the source, to find a highly celebrated and nearly unobtainable beer.
'Baltimore Altimeter, 30.46'
Snapshots From a Clear Day in the Northeast
'Say Souls On Board,' and Other Secrets of the Skies
Romanesque on the Plains
The Look of Sioux Falls
What 'Fringe City' Status Means for a Community's Look and Feel
Sioux Falls: If you can make it there ...
Road Report: Sarah Lee Guthrie
Why someone had to invent the word "serendipity."
Everyone's a Linguist
More on 'Coming With'
A City With Its Economic Bones Revealed: The Look of Sioux Falls
What factories, cathedrals, outdoor sculpture displays, and even brewpubs tell us about a town.
Sioux Falls: It's Been a Boom Town Before
"That's why they call it a land-office business"
A Dakota Boom Town, but Not the Kind You'd Expect
Why is this boom town different from other boom towns?
Why Local Money Matters: The Middletown Story
"Absentee ownership changed everything."
'When's your birthday? January 1st Report from Sioux Falls
A school district of 60 different languages and cultures.
How to Make Nice With the Call Center
The language of Sioux Falls
Welcome Marketplace Listeners, to American Futures
Kicking off a new collaborative project
Welcome to Sioux Falls
A successful, energetic, rough-edged, and therefore typically American town
American Futures: Grand Finale Holland-Palooza
A small arena in which many dramas are being played out.
The Next Lesson From Holland: Why Local Money Matters
In an age of globalized companies and relentless focus on "shareholder value," a reminder of what local ownership can mean.
The Surprising News From One Small Town About Immigration Reform
In a place as unlike Miami, New York, or L.A. as you can imagine, America's unsettled immigration policy has a profound effect.
Today's Frightening / Inspiring Aerial Videos
How fire-fighting looks from the tanker-pilots' point of view.
Rapid City Report:
What Does Green Mean?
If We're Talking American Orientalism ...
A Theory of Mountain Flying
The safety virtues of multi-modal transportation.
The 'Rapid' Story:
Trains, Planes, and the Making of a City
Readers on 'American Orientalism'
Good thing I didn't mention snowmobiles.
On the 'Orientalism' of the Prairie
What happens when the "ordinary objects of our culture" are treated as curiosities.
Life on the Road:
Beef Jerky, Swimming, and a Search for Spiritual Relief
Notes From the Road: Drought, Politics
Politics as sport spills over into real life.
Holland: Where Things Go After the Recycling Bin
Holland makes, the world takes -- and Holland recycles too.
Giant Lawn Machinery Everywhere: This Actually Is a Thing
Industrialization increases productivity. Sort of.
Thanks Much! On the Geography of Language
"Is this your guys's stuff?" And other linguistic markers.
Holland, 'Snowmelt,' 'Patient Capital,' and the Revival of Downt
"I have the best location in all of Western Michigan!"
What ARE Those Weirdo Midwestern Pond-Pools? And Other Aerial Ar
One mystery solved, many to go.
Holland and the Theory of Serial Reportage
Approximating reality, post by post by post.
Welcome to Holland
And so it begins.
The Odd Fallibilities of Flight Aware
Technology, our friend and foe: Chapter 3,189.
American Futures Takes Off
A road-trip-by-air gets its start.
'American Futures' Site-Suggestion Update
"Permanent beta" as a philosophy of travel, and life.
Introducing Our Project