A yard sign in the Old West End Neighborhood welcomes new neighbors in English, Spanish and Arabic. (Photo: Jordan Kartholl/The Star Press)
A yard sign in the Old West End Neighborhood welcomes new neighbors in English, Spanish and Arabic. (Photo: Jordan Kartholl/The Star Press)
MUNCIE — National journalists James and Deborah Fallows, authors of the best-selling book "Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into The Heart of America," barnstormed around Muncie recently.

In the wake of their tour, which included a public forum, a lot of people are discussing how well Muncie measures up to the 10 1/2 attributes the Fallowses say cities need to prosper:

  • Divisive national politics don't divide the local community, which focuses not on national conflicts such as same-sex marriage and Brett Kavanaugh but on practical problems the community can address.
  • You can pick out the local patriots, the people who make the town go.
  • Public-private partnerships are real.
  • People know the civic story.
  • They have a downtown that still has "good bones," the classic Main Street-style structures built between the Civil War and World War II.
  • They're near a research university, which lifts the economy by bringing in a student population and transforms a town through the researchers and professors it attracts.
  • They have —and care about the graduation rates at — a community college, which is a connection to high-wage technical jobs
  • They have unusual schools, such as charters, religious or private schools where experimentation is a common theme.
  • They make themselves open, meaning they're not anti-immigrant; they try to attract and include new people.
  • They have big plans.
  • They have craft breweries, and maybe a distillery or two (this is item 10 1/2 on the list).
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