Your Sunday MUST READ: “My city is unlike any other. My city is not a thru street.”


If Deaf Gahan would have paid attention the first time … thick, ain’t he? Our campaign finance aggregator-in-chief will read this sentence and ask, “but isn’t pass-through logic why I’m here?”

“We let the idea of high volumes of through traffic become our identity.”

In terms of specific circumstances, Lebanon, Ohio is not the same as New Albany, Indiana. But shared universals are another matter entirely. Go to Strong Towns and read the entire essay, excerpted below.

The member who sent us the following essay about their hometown of Lebanon, Ohio, wished to remain anonymous, but is hopeful that it will spark discussion in Lebanon about how the city sees itself and its future. We hope so too. The history of Lebanon related here is familiar: it echoes those of hundreds of other American towns and cities that have mortgaged their futures on unproductive patterns of growth… but that have a history and identity to be proud of, if they can embrace it anew. Is yours one of them?

Are you paying attention, Deaf Gahan?

Are you paying attention, 3rd council district?

My City is Not a Through Street (Strong Towns)

… Lebanon is a strong and beautiful city. We hold an identity wholly apart from either nearby metro. This isn’t the kind of place where you travel between indistinguishable suburbs and forget what city you’re in. This place shows that it is different, from the unique Broadway streetscape to the fast pace of business on Mulberry, and from the vast attendance of the Carriage Parade to the humble but everlasting presence of our farmers’ market. Lebanon was once a place, a destination for all kinds of people, and it can be so again.

Lebanon doesn’t need the through traffic. Lebanon doesn’t need the “through” mindset. We don’t need more bedrooms for commuters to spend ten hours of their days. We don’t need to draw tourists from Cincinnati and Dayton. We don’t need huge, silver-bullet developments like Union Village to increase downtown patronage. We already have the bones of a great downtown; we have since our forefathers started building it in 1803. What we need is bottom-up growth; more businesses that are uniquely Lebanon; more reasons to work here and spend our free time (and dollars) here. Fears of the loss of “small town feel” are misguided. Our downtown is an authentic expression of who we are.

We don’t need more endless bedrooms communities and chain retail to steamroll through our beautiful countryside. And we do not need one more development of detached single-family housing.

We need to be a city growing from the center outward, unafraid to grow taller and busier—busy with people going about their lives here, not passing through in their cars to somewhere else. We need more residents who are invested in the community and want to live and work in the heart of Lebanon.

My city is unlike any other. My city is not a thru street.