American futures map
A joint special project from The Atlantic and Marketplace looking at how the global economy is reshaping small town America. - 

If you're only focused on Wall Street and K Street you aren't really getting a true picture of what's going on in America.  So as part of the American Futures Project The Atlantic's Jim Fallows and his wife Deb in collaboration with Marketplace have been doing just that.  Getting out to small towns across the country, finding out how they're taking ou their slice of the global economy

And what you discover,  Fallows says, is that the towns that are doing well are doing well in part because they're building a specific story.  A story about the kind of town they are and want to be which often turns out to be a story that changes their economic fortunes.
"The way people understand  their past and the things that worked affects their view of the present and more importantly the future," he says.

Fallows says, its crucial that everyone in the town buy into the narrative.  He says most of the people who didn't buy into the narrative have left, they've gone to make a life elsewhere.

"The people who are still there have to think its worth it and there are ways they can work together," Fallows says.

Fallows says this type of buy in does come with risk, "the danger would be people trying too hard to hang on to something that's just not saveable."

Follow Kai Ryssdal at @kairyssdal