To Those Proud and Exuberant Promoters of Town, City and State: I say thank you!


In this extended holiday essay, explorer / spelunker / observer John Watts delivers an everyman’s take on Chesterton’s oft-noted adage: Places don’t become loved because they are great; they become great because they are loved. Does your town invite “word-of-mouth walking?”

I am always profoundly moved and impacted by those special strangers I’ve had the privilege to meet in the course of my travels who go out of their way to not only answer basic informational or directional questions with great kindness, but then take that extra step and leap of faith to evangelize and bring to life their town or city. They are promoters and boosters extraordinaire that combine warm interpersonal skills with a great contagious affection and pride for their local digs.

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An Ode to Old Towns

PlaceShakers takes a very literal step off our comfortably beaten paths of urban design, zoning reform and community resiliency today to focus on, as the software industry calls it, the “end-user experience.” Despite, or perhaps because of, having no vocational connection to placemaking at all, explorer / spelunker / observer John Watts offers up some poignant reminders of why our work towards endearing — and enduring — human-scaled places is so important. For today, certainly, but ultimately for tomorrow.

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