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America's once-vibrant small-to-midsize cities--Syracuse, Worcester, Akron, Flint, Rockford, and others--increasingly resemble urban wastelands. Guttedby deindustrialization, outsourcing, and middle-class flight, disproportionatelydevastated by metro freeway systems that laid waste to the urban fabric anddisplaced the working poor, and struggling with pockets of poverty reminiscent ofpostcolonial squalor, small industrial cities--as a class--have become invisible toa public distracted by the Wall Street (big city) versus Main Street (small town)matchup. These cities would seem to be part of America's past, not its future. Andyet, journalist and historian Catherine Tumber argues in this provocative book, America's gritty Rust Belt cities could play a central role in a greener, low-carbon, relocalized future. As we wean ourselves from fossil fuels and realizethe environmental costs of suburban sprawl, we will see that small cities offer manyassets for sustainable living not shared by their big city or small towncounterparts: population density (and the capacity for more); fertile, nearbyfarmland available for local agriculture, windmills, and solar farms; andmanufacturing infrastructure and workforce skill that can be repurposed for theproduction of renewable-energy technology. Tumber, who has spent much of her life inRust Belt cities, traveled to twenty-five cities in the Northeast and Midwest--fromBuffalo to Peoria to Detroit to Rochester--interviewing planners, city officials, and activists, and weaving their stories into this exploration of small-scaleurbanism. Smaller cities can be a critical part of a sustainable future and aproductive green economy. Small, Gritty, and Green will help us develop the moraland political imagination we need to realize this.
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