This week, Roberts talks about the challenges confronting U.S. cities today with Charles Marohn of Strong Towns. We’d like to hear what you think about the prospect of making cities stronger.

Questions below the fold: Check Your Knowledge:

1. What are the characteristics of a “strong town,” and what are some of the suggestions Marohn offers to make a town stronger? Which do you think could be the most effective, and why?

2. Marohn uses the phrase “the illusion of wealth” repeatedly throughout the interview. What does he mean by this, and what danger does this illusion portend?

Going Deeper:

3. Marohn says we’ve consistently “over-engineered and over-built” our streets. To what extent does this describe the streets where you live (or have lived)? How does/did this affect your quality of life, or the “texture” of your community, as Roberts would describe it? What makes/made your town strong, or what could be done to make it stronger? What obstacles must be/were overcome to do so?

4. Is Marohn’s vision of the future of American cities as he sees it today really apocalyptic? Who is more optimistic about the potential for Strong Towns, Roberts or Marohn? Why?

Extra Credit:

5. Roberts and Marohn both note that people who live in cities seem to like big government. In this 2012 episode with political scientist Jonathan Rodden, the divide between urban and suburban/rural voters is the primary topic of conversation. What explanation does Rodden provide for this phenomenon? Given his findings, what do you think Rodden would say about the feasibility of creating Smart(er) Towns?

[Note: If you’re interested, the Rodden episode, referenced in the question above, also has a corresponding Listening Guide available.]