I just finished an interesting book, Small, Gritty and Green: The Promise of Smaller Industrial Cities in a Low-Carbon World, by Catherine Tumber. While I can’t say that I agree with all aspects of Tumber’s arguments, I can highly recommend the book. Tumber’s thesis is that the smaller industrial cities of the Northeast and Midwest (places like Syracuse, Youngstown, or Flint) are ideally suited to prosper in an economy where
low-carbon, green businesses, and sustainability assume more prominence. Until recently, these regions were viewed by many as lost causes or “shrinking cities.” These locations enjoy several unique advantages, such as dense residential footprints, appropriate scale economies, and committed leadership, that should help them prosper in the 21st century economy.
Tumber may be a little optimistic about the timeline for reaching a low-carbon economy as she wrote the book during the height of national interest in cleantech and the green economy. But, her arguments about the inherent advantages of smaller cities are very compelling. Also, she is a very good writer, able to jump seamlessly from the latest urban planning theories to real life examples of local residents who are leading the charge to transform their communities. If you’re a fan of small cities or of new approaches
to community builidng, this book is definitely worth a look.