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James Fallows, national correspondent for The Atlantic, and his wife, linguist and author Deborah Fallows, on their cross-country trip to discover America's most unique small towns.
Most unusual, maybe, but most unique, never. Kind of like being mostly pregnant.
Liberal, Missouri was founded in 1880 or so as an atheist/liberal/progressive community in Southwest Missouri.Christians founded a little town next to it in an attempt to show the Liberal residents the error of their ways, or something like that. Anyway, the town is still there and has a few reminders left of its history, including some interesting street names for these solidly conservative parts (Darwin Street, etc.). Interesting history and controversy await you in this sleepy little farm town.http://www.angelfire.com/home/wliberalmissionoutre/historyofliberal.html
Ironically, just last night they replayed a segment on Marfa, Texas on 60 Minutes, which highlights how that small town in West Texas has morphed from a dying farming commnity into a thriving arts scene, complete with a large Prada store (an art installation, not a real store) on the outskirts of town.
Celebration, Fla. was a planned community (by Disney), with a design specifically intended to recreate a sense of small town America. There was a deliberate mix of housing, a central core, etc. I was only there once, but have heard that it is evolving, although I'm not sure how. I think it would be interesting to research the theories that went into the development, and how the assumptions have panned out.
Lenoir, NC. It was a dying furniture town that reinvented itself as an arts community. It has also drawn companies like Google to use the excess power that was left when the furniture companies closed. They has also started community gardens to help the out-of-work citizens. For swimming, Wilson's Creek - beautiful & cold, wouldn't wait too late in the year to visit.
My mom just moved to Hot Springs, AR, where my grandparents live. I used to think only oldsters live there - my granparents live in a huge retirement community - but having revently visited, I am shocked to say that it's actually a very interesting place with huge potential for an artistic renaissance. The center of town features many of the original Art Deco era bath houses - built to serve people coming to visit the natural hot springs. The federal government has preserved these beautiful buildings and is looking for businesses to come in and do something interesting with them - a brewery just opened in one, and it will be the first in the world to make beer using water directly from a natural hot spring. The surrounding area is truly beautiful - the downtown itself is actually part of a national park. Many of the downtown buildings are also from the same era as the bath houses, and are lovely, though in need of repair....one could easily see them inhabited by artists and other creative types, and they're already beginning to move in. The whole place seems primed for a complete rebirth!
re: Holland Michigan - Also home to the founder of Blackwater INC/ DoSTATE security contractor in Afghanistan/Iraq, etc. Company has ???? AKAs.
Fairfield, IowaTranscendental Meditation community Maharishi University of ManagementWonderful Artwalk on the town square once a monthSustainable living and farmingEco Village
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