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May 12, 2021  

Scaling Down America

May 12, 2021

Is America on the path to experiencing a small-town revival? A recent article by James Kunstler posits that, especially in the wake of COVID-19, we have entered into "an era of stark economic contraction that will change the terms of daily life in America." One major such change would be that our living arrangements will shift from focusing around big cities and suburbs back to small towns.

We live in a society where the tendency is to scale up more and more; we’re going from the Walmart economy to the Amazon economy, which is likely a larger scale than we ever envisioned, and this would seem to be the total opposite of Kunstler’s thesis. How would his suggested “scaling down” happen, and would it be a rapid change or something that will follow the Amazon age—or is it perhaps something that will happen as a part of the Amazon age?

This week on Upzoned, host Abby Kinney is joined by Strong Towns president Chuck Marohn as they "upzone" these questions—i.e., they look at them through the Strong Towns lens. They dive into the reasons why Kunstler suggests we might be facing an economic collapse (not quite as an apocalyptic event as the word “collapse” might imply), and they discuss the allure of small towns, especially in regards to quality of life.

Then in the downzone, Chuck shares some exciting extraterrestrial news, and Abby is starting a thriving seed collection.