American Futures: Where Should We Go?

Please offer your suggestions on cities whose stories should be told.
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As mentioned in introductory installments #1 and #2, this month my wife and I are kicking off an open-ended exploration of smaller-town America. The idea is to learn about places that illustrate under-reported aspects of current American realities -- economic, technological, social, demographic, and all the rest. It's the classic American road trip, by small plane.

We have spent a lot of time reading, interviewing, thinking about, and collecting suggestions on small cities we should visit. This process is a combination of art and science -- of planning, and allowing for surprise. The most valuable suggestions we've gotten so far have come from people who say: I know just the kind of place you're looking for. Let me tell you about it ... 

We'd like to collect your suggestions: what is a smaller American town whose story deserves more attention? "Smaller" is a flexible definition. The simplest approximation might be: a place that doesn't get much national notice and is rarely in the news. (For instance: Aspen, Colorado, is a small town but wouldn't qualify; Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is fairly large, but does.) We'll be grateful for your thoughts, via the form below.

In subsequent installments we'll be reporting on results and suggestions -- and sharing an updated working list of the next round of places we have in mind. Our first swing, starting this week, takes us to the upper Midwest and Plains states. Soon we'll show a list of candidate cities for your reactions and further advice. 

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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.


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