The Incremental Approach

Chuck Marohn on his blog at Strong Towns has a great post about the differences from a financing perspective of how growth occurs in a traditional model vs now:

To get growth and investments in place, the approach of the city needs to be more incremental, fine grained and experimental. Instead of one multi-million dollar investment (a trolley line, a pyramid-shaped stadium, re-purposing a pyramid-shaped stadium, redeveloping the fairgrounds, etc…) that is supposed to transform an area, the city needs to make many more, small investments. These small experiments need to happen at the neighborhood level. They need to be focused on incrementally improving that space. These are opportunities to learn from successes and failures, with the best approaches spreading from neighborhood to neighborhood, informing the next round of improvements.

He goes on to use an example from Memphis to explain this concept. The great thing about the Memphis example is that it was initiated by a neighborhood group that got tired of waiting for the city and it cost very little to implement but got huge and immediate returns. The small, incremental changes approach is a great way to realize lasting and valuable improvements to a neighborhood without much risk or capital expense.

I really appreciate Chuck’s financial return on investment analysis. This is a great perspective that needs to be celebrated in urbanism circles. I’ve been listening to the podcast for a while now and it is highly recommended for its great content and unique perspective.

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