Coming Soon: Mary’s First Book!

I am thrilled to announce the imminent publication of my first book! Main Street’s Comeback… And How It Can Come Back Again will become available in late November through a variety of professional and commercial channels.

About a year ago, I set out to chronicle the Main Street Project and how this remarkable citizen-led movement kept the heart of the nation’s small towns beating.  Then came the coronavirus pandemic and the ensuing economic recession.  As national leadership dithered and election year politics produced only limited relief for families and businesses, main street’s future prospects looked increasingly grim.  Did this confluence of events mean the end for small town commercial districts? 

Then it hit me. Main streets have survived disaster before. Some of them have coped with more than one seemingly insurmountable event, from the Civil War to the Great Depression.  In my own lifetime, main streets have been declared dead several times, yet endured the post war exodus to the suburbs, the spread of shopping centers, and most recently, online retailing.

Today’s main streets are much more resilient than they were forty years ago. Credit goes to all those years of reinvesting and rehabilitating buildings, of forming strong civic collaborations, of bringing people back downtown, of making downtown once again the center of community celebrations – and protests.

Main Street’s Comeback describes how this came to be–the nearly invisible interdependent web holding the future of these towns and their main streets together—and how it can be deployed again to meet current challenges.  It’s organized in three sections:

  • Part One — The Origin Story covers the origin of the Main Street Approach: how a 3-town, 3-year pilot project survived to become the National Main Street Center.
  • Part Two — Rise of Main Street explores the expansion of the main street revitalization movement, its rippling impact and influence on travel, heritage development, the design of new towns, and even historic preservation itself.
  • Part Three — Return of Main Street looks ahead, including factors that may hold promise for communities that are struggling to emerge from the damage wrought by the pandemic.

The key to saving America’s main streets today lies in the collaborative regeneration system built over the last four decades. It’s comprised of partnerships between small main street coordination offices in nearly 40 states, and the hundreds of active grassroots local main street organizations they serve.  

Publication is expected in late October 2020. Get in touch to be notified when it’s available.