In 2001, an Australian economist/city planner named John Henshall visited Memphis, Tennessee. Having an afternoon open, he consulted a guidebook that mentioned Clarksdale, Mississippi's deep blues history. A massive blues music fan who knew little of its origins, he decided to visit the so-called "Crossroads." What he found was a former "golden buckle on the cotton belt" turned ghosttown. He also found a couple people talking about downtown revitalization and cultural tourism. Something clicked, and he proceeded to visit 22 more times in 18 years, delving into the town's musical and economic histories, making friends with multigenerational locals and a growing cadre of transplants moving from as far away as The Netherlands and his own native Australia. They were artistic and entrepreneurial people with a common mission: Bring back the town by attracting music fans. This (admittedly high-priced) Australian textbook is the result of his formal studies and personal observations; it is full of fascinating facts and applicable recommendations for other small towns. - Roger Stolle, Cat Head
From the web: This book is about Clarksdale, a small town in Mississippi, USA, and how the local community has revitalised the long-dilapidated downtown, with the renewal based on the town’s intimate association with Blues music and the culture that flows through the Mississippi Delta. John Henshall highlights underlying trends in downtown decline and revitalisation in cities and towns in America, together with commentary of his own experience at home in Australia.In Clarksdale, downtown economic revitalisation gained momentum in the mid-2000s as local residents and newcomers focused their entrepreneurial and creative efforts on promoting Clarksdale’s heritage, which is steeped in Blues music and Delta culture. While much attention to date has been given to large cities – from Sydney to San Francisco and from London to New York – as ‘creative cities’, little has been written about creativity in small cities and towns. This book delves into the positive role played by creative individuals in the economic revitalisation of downtown Clarksdale. The role of urban planning and community interaction is examined, and key lessons are provided for other small cities and towns, as they seek out opportunities to revitalise their downtowns and town centres.