Some 250 Iowans who are working to revitalize their downtowns are gathering today and tomorrow in Muscatine for the 18th annual Downtown Summit. One speaker is Tom Hylton, president of Save our Land, a Pennsylvania-based group that focuses people on rediscovering traditional towns to save farms and forests. Over the past few decades, Hylton says our culture has abandoned many cities and towns, leaving behind deserted Main Streets and decaying neighborhoods. “We have lost a lot of prime farm land. We’ve paved over a great deal of land for streets and parking lots which has environmental problems and we’re really isolating ourselves as never before.” After watching the gradual decline of towns and countrysides, Hylton says he started Save Our Land as a way to persuade people to rethink this lifestyle and to return to more traditional towns. He says cities, built around close-knit town squares, are cheaper for governments to operate and cheaper for residents who live there. You don’t have to drive so many places — you can walk, stay healthy and get to know your neighbors better. He says there’s less stress too as kids don’t have to be ferried around and they can safely go off on their own. Attendees to the two-day conference are representing some 80 Iowa downtowns.
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