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On the first anniversary of the devastating tornado that touched ground here, the nation focused on this small city of 50,000 and its stories of resiliency and resourcefulness. Joplin is a folk tale of middle American community values and strong religious sentiment. It’s “Little House on the Prairie,” in the eyes of cable news. But there is something condescending about that portrayal, as if Joplin’s comeback were an inevitable consequence of good people just being good. Much has been said about how well Joplin has recovered, but less about how that recovery occurred. Joplin isn’t just a story of hope winning over pessimism. What makes Joplin a truly American story is that its transformation is a triumph of local ingenuity, starting with that most democratic of events: a public meeting.


Kayyem, Juliette. "The ‘Joplin Effect’." Boston Globe, May 24, 2012.