Los Angeles

Are Small Towns Reinventing America?

James Fallows and Deborah Fallows

Evening traffic on Bardstown Road in Louisville, Kentucky. Photo courtesy of Scott Smithson/Flickr.

Moderated by Joe Mathews, California and Innovation Editor, Zócalo Public Square
The RedZone at Gensler
500 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Valet parking is available off of Flower Street between Fourth Street and Fifth Street; $10 with validation after 5 PM. More information here.

The conventional wisdom is that America’s rural communities and small cities are sliding into decline, despair, and disconnection. Anger, frustration, and insularity in such places are widely seen as the fuel behind President Trump’s election and a rise in white nationalism and racism. But a more nuanced look at cities like Sioux Falls, South Dakota; Eastport, Maine; Columbus, Mississippi; and Clarkson, Washington, can reveal a very different picture, with local communities often demonstrating robust civic life. Are these places really so desperately disconnected from the 21st-century economy—or do they feel closer to the rest of the world through growing trade and advanced technology? Are they turning their backs on a changing nation, or demonstrating how to live together as the country diversifies? Why doesn’t the media cover more of their stories of innovation and renewal? James Fallows and Deborah Fallows, co-authors of Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey into the Heart of America, visit Zócalo to discuss what they found in their travels across the U.S. in a single-engine prop airplane.