The Fight to Save the Town: Michelle Wilde Anderson

Globalization, technology, devastating impacts from the foreclosure crisis and the opioid addiction have wreaked havoc on communities left behind by the modern economy. Some of these discarded places are rural. Others are cities or suburbs. Some vote blue, others red. Some are the most diverse communities in America, while others are nearly all white, all Latino, or all Black. 

In this episode we visit four cities and towns with deep poverty and gutted public services— where entire communities are struggling to hold on.

Our guest is Michelle Wilde Anderson, a professor of property, local government and environmental justice at Stanford Law School. Her recent book is "The Fight to Save the Town: Reimagining Discarded America".

"We have given up on many of these places", Michelle tells us. She describes discarded America as "giant parts of many states that have not found their foothold in the 21st century economy." Discarded America is "a term that describes active decision making."

Her book describes the fallout from decades of cuts to local government amidst rising segregation by income and race. She reports on efforts to revive four communities— Stockton California, Lawrence Massachusetts, Josephine County Oregon, and Detroit.

The focus is on local activists, community leaders, elected officials and others who have poured their heart and soul into fighting for the places where they live. In these places and others some of the most basic aspects of local government services have been dismantled.

This podcast was first published last year and is a companion piece to "How Do We Fix It?" episode #390— "For the Love of Cities" with Peter Kageyama.

In this episode we learn about brave and innovative efforts to cope with years of falling tax receipts in many communities that were hit hard by the foreclosure crisis, and decades of economic decline as jobs and entire industries moved offshore or to other parts of the country.

As always with our podcast, there is also a focus on solutions, as we discuss examples of civic pride and rebuilding.

Michelle Wilde Anderson book Review: "Building Back Better— One Community at a Time (New York Times).

Recommendation: Richard watched the FX drama series, "The Old Man", starring Jeff Bridges, John Lithgow, Amy Brenneman and Alia Shawkat.

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