Heartland

For Product Narratives, Nowhere Beats Flyover Country

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In every pursuit these days, “the narrative” seems to be the thing. Tell a story that checks enough of the right boxes in the zeitgeist, the thinking goes, and you can get citizens, taxpayers and consumers to “buy” what you want them to buy.

This is a reality that’s being used against Flyover Country – but one that also provides us with opportunities to flip the script.  read more »

Bluegrass, Bourbon, and Basketball

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I grew up in the Louisville metro area (Southern Indiana), but somehow never managed to visit Lexington, Kentucky, which is only about 70 miles down the road.

A grant from the Knight Foundation gave me the opportunity to correct that oversight and write an article about Lexington. I’ll admit to a certain selfishness in pitching that idea. I wanted to learn more about Lexington and finally get the chance to visit the city.

Fortunately I was able to get that visit in pre-pandemic. Lisa Adkins, President of the Bluegrass Foundation, even graciously gave me a tour.  read more »

Give Me Paris? -- Or Detroit and Bismarck, Odessa and Midland

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It looks like the early days of the Biden administration are setting up an economic faceoff between the sensibilities of the coasts and the realities of Flyover Country. Or, as an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal put it, "Will Biden Choose Paris Over Bismarck and Pierre?"  read more »

Heartland Region Poised for Industrial Resurgence as Firms Consider Returning From Abroad

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Today, Heartland Forward published new research, "Reshoring America: Can the Heartland Lead the Way?," which finds the U.S. poised for an industrial comeback led by the Heartland and fueled by reshoring, the return of manufacturing centers to the U.S. from abroad.  read more »

‘Call Your Mother’ Sitcom Is Coastally Out of Step

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Call Your Mother is lame enough as it is. But a major extra shortcoming of ABC’s latest sitcom, which recently debuted with a pilot episode, is that one of its foundations is a banal juxtaposition of Flyover Country with the coasts.

Get this: A central premise of the show is that an empty-nester widow moves to Los Angeles from Iowa to be near her two adult kids who like living in California right now. In that important regard, Call Your Mother is so, well, 2019 – and so heedless of the current zeitgeist.

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Quality Of Life, Or Quantity Of Lives?

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Anyone who's been in the urbanism game as long as I have (or longer) is probably familiar with the annual Places Rated Almanac, the annual metro area ranking reference produced by David Savageau. First published in 1981, I remember seeing each year's edition in bookstores while I was in high school and college, and it was the first attempt I could remember at evaluating the positives and negatives of place, and ranking them accordingly.  read more »

A New Localism Can Heal, Advance Flyover Country

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The mess in Washington underscores the harsh reality that our national fissures aren't going to be healed any time soon – if ever. Among other things, that means America will have to progress on the local and regional levels, where people actually live, whatever happens on the fractured plane of national identity and politics.

Call it a new localism.  read more »

The Threat to Regional Unity

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Happy New Year, everybody.

My latest column in Governing magazine is about another possible piece of fallout from the coronavirus, namely the undermining of the regional unity and solidarity that metropolitan areas have worked hard to build in recent years. Here’s an excerpt:  read more »

The Case for American Optimism

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Now that Trump has been edged out of office, Joe Biden may emerge as the harbinger of a brighter, better blue future or as a version of Konstantin Chernenko, the aged timeserver who ran the Soviet Union in its dying days. To succeed, he will have to confront massive pessimism about America’s direction, with some 80 percent thinking the country is out of control. The Atlantic last year compared the U.S. to a “failed state,” while The Week predicts “dark days ahead.”  read more »

Can California Stop Big Tech from Decamping to Cheaper Places?

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For the past half-century, California has dominated America’s tech industry. From the development of precision farming to the incubation of aircraft, space, semiconductors and computer systems, this state has emerged time and again at the cutting edge of future industries.  read more »