Michelle Wilde Anderson

Oct 13, 2022

The Fight to Save the Town

A Conversation with Michelle Wilde Anderson

New Books Network 2022

Welcome to The Academic Life! In this episode you’ll hear about:

  • Why we need to write about difficult topics.
  • Four American towns trying to save themselves.
  • The structural processes behind poverty.
  • A discussion of the book The Fight to Save the Town.

Today’s book is: The Fight to Save the Town: Reimagining Discarded America (Avid Reader, 2022), by Michele Wilde Anderson, which examines how decades of cuts to local government amidst rising concentrations of poverty have wreaked havoc on communities left behind by the modern economy. These discarded places include big cities, small cities, rural areas, and historic suburbs. Some are diverse communities, while others are nearly all white, all Latino, or all Black. All are routinely trashed by the media for their poverty and their politics, ignoring how our smallest governments shape people’s safety, comfort, and life chances. For decades, these governments haven’t just reflected inequality—they have helped drive it. But Anderson argues that a new generation of local leaders are figuring out how to turn poverty traps back into gateway cities.

Our guest is: Michelle Wilde Anderson, a professor of property, local government, and environmental justice at Stanford Law School. Her writing has appeared in the Stanford Law Journal, Yale Law Journal, California Law Review, New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, among other publications. Prior to joining Stanford, she worked as a visiting professor, assistant professor, a research fellow, and an environmental law fellow. She is the Chair of the Board of Directors of the National Housing Law Project and a board member at the East Bay Community Law Center in Oakland. She holds a joint appointment with Stanford’s new Doerr School of Sustainability, and lives with her family in San Francisco.

Our host is: Dr. Christina Gessler, who is the co-producer of the Academic Life.

Listeners to this episode may also be interested in:

  • On the Line: A Story of Class, Solidarity, and Two Women’s Epic Fight to Build a Union, by Daisy Pitkin
  • Pedagogy of the Poor: Building the Movement to End Poverty, by Willie Baptist and Jan Rehmann
  • How to Live in Detroit Without Being a Jackass, by Aaron Foley
  • Dog Whistle Politics, by Ian Henry Lopez
  • The Miseducation of the Barrio: The School to Prison Pipeline, by Julia Mendoza

You are smart and capable, but you aren’t an island, and neither are we. We reach across our mentor network to bring you podcasts on everything from how to finish that project to how to take care of your beautiful mind. Here on the Academic Life channel, we embrace a broad definition of what it means to be an academic and to lead an academic life. We view education as a transformative human endeavor and are inspired by today’s knowledge-producers working inside and outside the academy. Wish we’d bring on an expert about something? DMs us on Twitter: @AcademicLifeNBN.

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Christina Gessler

Dr. Christina Gessler holds a PhD in U.S. history.
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