I sent the text of the post entitled Magically Fallacious to Chuck Marohn before I published it. The interchange didn’t seem particularly enlightening so I didn’t include it. At Chuck’s request I’m posting it now:
Thanks for the interest and passion. I feel you’re falling into the trap of taking each utterance as a discrete thing instead of part of a larger body of work. Of course I’m not for highway interchanges and parking lots, but I’m also a skeptic of the person who thinks they can get a big budget and solve the world’s problems. We empower charlatans and fools when we think we’re so smart.
I know the starting point — better than most — and I know the destination. It’s each step on the journey I don’t feel confident prescribing, so we take them a step at a time and see what happens.
What I see is a lot of people who are basically clueless about the starting point (except their one or two things that bother them), have an obsession about solving a problem and are ready to put on a jet pack and get to that destination as quickly as possible, everything else be damned. Well, those people are the problem in my world.
Hope that makes sense.
That you “know the starting point — better than most — and…”know the destination” is my point! It’s really not about scale. Of course I understand that at the micro level “knowing where to put the crosswalk” can/should be tested first before it’s permanently installed, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t see that a few million dollars to better link a dozen solid traditional city/town centers is better spent than some fraction of that amount to spur on more auto oriented horizontal development in an ex-urban environment!
Some bigger ideas are good, and some smaller ideas are really bad. Incrementalism can do wonders, I agree, but there are silver bullets which hit the bulls eye too!
I’m sorry, but I think you misunderstand me. Probably my fault.
Yes, we know the destination — or we think we know — but as with all long and endless journeys, the destination will change over time. Working incrementally respects that and actually induces it. We’re never done. Silver bullets have place in an approach that is never done.
I assume that the last line contains a typo and was meant to read: “Silver bullets have NO place in an approach that is never done.” My lived experience in a place which has its share of silver bullet projects is that many of them have proven invaluable to the city’s survival and progress. If I’m wrong and it was supposed to read: Silver bullets CAN have A place in an approach that is never done” then I concur. To me, the podcast which inspired this post was a call to engage. I did so. If my polemics were “dickish” so be it, given that Chuck doesn’t cede the point that scale isn’t the only operative characteristic in moving forward, I assume that he disagrees. Great. I’ve made him aware that one proud, founding member of Strong Towns disagrees.