Talking About Civic Engagement in America's Original Engaged Communities

The Chautauqua Institution is one of America’s great centers for civil, cultural, and intellectual engagement. A talk about 21st-century American renewal, at a place whose history traces to a great 19th-century reform movement.

The Athenaeum hotel and restaurant at Chautauqua in August, 2015. (James Fallows)

In the new March, 2016 issue of The Atlantic, Deb Fallows and I have articles about what we’ve seen in the past few years of “American Futures” travel and reporting across the country. Hers is here; mine is here; and a video of the two of us in Mississippi, plus other info, is here.

Last summer, in a session at the Chautauqua Institution, we gave a preview of the findings. Chautauqua is indeed one of the great institutions in American civic, cultural, and intellectual history—it’s only 17 years younger than the Atlantic itself!  — and we were glad and honored to be part of their presentation. The official video of the talk is below.


After the talk, we went to another great New York institution, the Southern Tier Brewing company in nearby Lakewood.  A theme of this article is that the presence of craft breweries is a jokey-seeming but real indicator of entrepreneurial activity. Here we are confirming that view, with Matt Ewalt and Jordan Steves of the Chautauqua staff.

With Matt Ewalt (center) and Jordan Steves at Southern Tier Brewing (Deborah Fallows)