8 Great Places You’ve (Maybe) Never Heard Of, 2012 Edition

Communities throughout the United States are setting a high standard for livability, sustainability and civic pride. Here’s our 2012 list of eight we think are getting it right.  

October/November 2012Dover 

By David Wann 

Many towns and cities have impressive natural and cultural assets, such as access to the seashore, a great climate for gardening or abundant renewable energy resources. But the best places to live — or simply visit — have something more: a sense of direction. Residents’ shared desire to build and maintain qualities such as resilience, health, security and a sense of fun guide such places’ priorities. Citizens invest their capital — monetary, social and natural — to ensure the health of both individuals and the community.

Our intent isn’t to encourage readers to pack up their belongings and descend on these locales. It’s to spotlight underappreciated communities that, large or small, are succeeding in creating a good home for the people who live there and are making choices with an eye to sustainability. Maybe residents went to college in these great places and liked it so much they never left. Maybe they volunteer at each citywide cleanup day, help organize a community parade, or spearhead the creation of a neighborhood garden. They’re the people who coordinate logistics for the annual music or arts festival, train the next generation of local organic farmers, or help preserve the open spaces and landscapes that define these communities. As the following towns and cities demonstrate, great places don’t just happen; they are created choice by choice, brick by brick — like the sturdy, historic buildings that proudly stand in many of the communities in this year’s edition of our annual feature.

These livable cities are not perfect. Some are dealing with environmental challenges, some with social problems, and several face economic difficulties. But each represents a community engaged in the question of how to make life better for its residents and for its ecosystem. We hope these examples will not only inspire you to make changes in your own community, but also to acknowledge what’s already great about the place you call home. 

8 Great Places 2012 

8 Great Places 

Golden, Colorado 

Dover, New Hampshire 

Lawrence, Kansas 

Charleston, South Carolina 

Port Townsend, Washington 

Red Lodge, Montana 

Hilo, Hawaii 

Denton, Texas 

Check Out Our Great Places From Previous Years:  

6 Great Places You’ve (Maybe) Never Heard Of, 2011 Edition 

11 Great Places You’ve (Maybe) Never Heard Of, 2009 Edition 

9 Great Places You’ve Never Heard Of, 2008 Edition 

8 Great Places You’ve Never Heard Of, 2007 Edition 

12 Great Places You’ve Never Heard Of, 2006 Edition 

David Wann has written 10 books on sustainable lifestyles, including AffluenzaWe’re already at work on the 2013 edition of our annual Great Places feature. If you want to nominate a favorite place, email Letters@MotherEarthNews.com. 

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