It was just announced that Staunton, my home, is rated the #1 micropolitan in Virginia and #13 nationally by Site Selection, the national “magazine of corporate real estate strategy & economic development”. This came on the heels of the “Micropolitan Manifesto” being featured at Forbes.
Pretty exciting stuff!
Unfortunately, every one of the data points for growth is about corporate expansion, not about capacity building, creating a thriving local economy or infrastructure for small business. It’s time to use meaningful metrics which evaluate the impact on communities we live in and measure sustainable change.
Did you catch the phrase “capacity building”?
If you’re unfamiliar with the term, Wikipedia defines it as “strengthening the skills, competencies and abilities of people and communities in developing societies”…
Micropolitan residents aren’t exactly living in “developing societies” in the traditional sense, but you and I are absolutely living in places that have extreme reserves of untapped capacity. In other words, yes, we might do well to consider ourselves “developing societies”.
Capacity: Micropolitan “rural urbanism”—the original “smart growth“!—already exists and is built to human-scale — excellent for a future with limited resources, especially fuel (Micropolitans must have a Main Street and/or a densely built downtown, people!)
Capacity: Micropolitan residents contain a fundamental understanding that most economic growth must come from within (e.g. indie biz!), and enjoy support from local supporters/customers/patrons. Some micropolitans, as a bonus, offer a historically-reinforced, innate sense of self-reliance, too.
Capacity: Micropolitans offer close(r) proximity to nature, which contributes to a rich and contented life—as do the social dividends present from the physical interaction that comes with living in a walkable community. Moreover, micropolitans offer greater socio-economic diversity greater than life in the suburbs. The very best are on par with larger cities culturally (scaled accordingly, of course). These top-notch micropolitans offer residents the mental and creative stimulation of a larger city, without the headaches and expense of living/driving/working in a crowded city.
Capacity: The most successful micropolitans welcome the weird, the untested, and the experimental… maybe not all the time, but yes, sometimes, and regularly, because micropolitans know that another real advantage happens when they willingly! happily! intentionally! secede from “Generica”.
These are four pillars that make a true micropolitan. “City” is part of the very word “capacity”, yet, no one is celebrating the capacity of our micropolitans—will you join me in doing so?
Micropolitans are wrongly defined when the only metric is their population.
Later Ellen wrote:
We are living the [micropolitan] manifesto wherever we live when we are present in our communities.
That’s key, too. Micropolitans aren’t simply a collection of people; they orbit a collection of ideas. click to tweet!
What do you think makes a micropolitan?
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