Something good happened in Erie – 11/21/2018

Our Towns – a 100,000-mile journey into the heart of America, by James and Deborah Fallows, 2018.

Without further ado, your Idiotville feel-good story of the week:

James Fallows has been writing for The Atlantic for what seems like forever. He’s also written a bunch of books, appeared on radio and tv, and won countless awards for his writing. His wife Deborah, meanwhile, is a talented researcher and author in her own right. So when they joined forces on a book titled Our Towns about their five-year journey to various small cities across our great country – with Erie having been a major focus – we listened.

Turns out, they found quite a bit to like about this place we affectionately call Idiotville. They compliment Erie Insurance’s takeover of the entire eastern downtown, Velocity Net’s decision to not be Erie Insurance yet move downtown anyway, and the new crop of successful startups that’s been brewing for awhile.

They aren’t blindly optimistic, either. They recognize that we’ve spent the past few decades watching our industrial core get hollowed out by larger forces, and that reinventions are hard. But they see a bunch of idiots willing to roll up their sleeves and do the work.

Here’s a quote from James Fallows from the GoErie article that sums up their take:

“Our message is that we are impressed by the effort, the possibility, the spirit that is in Erie, including with it a generational shift, which is something we’ve seen in a lot of cities around the country. There are new things and new possibilities.

And one from Deborah:

“There are so many elements in place to help this town move forward. It’s not just a dream, but it’s a dream with steps along the way that are actually being realized and taken.”

So if you’ve ever heard someone call our town a backwater, The Armpit of Pennsylvania, or some other such thing, keep in mind that the Fallows traveled the country looking at towns like ours and they have a name for us, too – “The heart of America.”

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