What towns and cities can learn from Norwich, “Norwich”

Even though “Norwich” can be found in the sports section of the bookstore, one might view Karen Crouse’s book as a self-help/self-improvement book.

Since the mid-1980s, the tiny town of Norwich, Vermont has produced 11 Olympic athletes, a remarkable number considering that the town’s population is little more than 3,000 residents. What accounts for this outsize success in producing Olympians? 

As it turns out, the community dispenses with conventional wisdom and takes a counter-intuitive approach to sports, an approach that  award-winning New York Times sportswriter Karen Crouse highlights in her book “Norwich: One Tiny Vermont Town’s Secret to Happiness and Excellence” (Simon & Schuster).

Even though “Norwich” can be found in the sports section of the bookstore, one might view Crouse’s book as a self-help/self-improvement book. What’s unique about it, though—as compared to the typical business/self-improvement book—is that it doesn’t put the burden on the individual to take steps to improve. Rather, it encourages entire towns and communities to be more like Norwich. Why is a communitarian approach better than an individualized approach? Well, for one not everyone has to read and internalize the lessons of a self-improvement book to benefit.

In our most recent Failure Interview, Crouse discusses the lessons that parents and communities can learn from Norwich’s collective experience, not to mention the feedback she has received from Norwich residents in the wake of the book’s publication.