Small City Wins Magazine’s “Nicest Places in America” Contest

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. crown jewel / kraʊn ˈdʒu əl / (idiom) – the most significant or valuable part of something

    The five-year-old church downtown is the city’s crown jewel.

  2. demonstrate / ˈdɛm ənˌstreɪt / (v) – to show an example of something

    She demonstrates good behavior by being kind to her classmates.

  3. community spirit / kəˈmyu nɪ ti ˈspɪr ɪt / (n) – the state of being friendly and understanding of people in a society

    People demonstrate great community spirit by volunteering in the city’s clean-up projects.

  4. nominee / ˌnɒm əˈni / (n) – someone/something who/that is recommended for a position or award

    The three nominees for the cleanest district in town were all previous winners of the competition.

  5. narrow down / ˈnær oʊ daʊn / (phrasal) – to reduce a number or list of things

    To determine the winner of the contest, the number of contestants was narrowed down to five.


Read the text below.

Columbiana, Ohio, has won Reader’s Digest’s yearly “Nicest Places in America” contest, which honors American communities that promote kindness and respect.

The city’s Main Street Theater is one of the most important factors that contributed to the victory. Reader’s Digest labeled the local theater as the city’s crown jewel because of the sense of community it demonstrates. Some of the theater productions feature actors with special needs.  According to the actors, participating in the productions boosts their confidence.

Aside from the theater productions, a few other activities that showcase community spirit were also named. One of these activities is the community members’ volunteer project that delivers diapers to underprivileged moms. The magazine also made mention of the people’s effort to donate money to the Columbiana Community Foundation.

Columbiana is the third city to win the award since the contest’s establishment in 2017. The winner of the contest was decided by Reader’s Digest editors, a panel of judges, and a nationwide poll, in which the city earned over 45,000 votes.

Each year, Reader’s Digest asks subscribers to nominate cities or towns for the contest. This year, Reader’s Digest received the greatest number of nominees with over 1,000 submissions. The number of nominees had to be narrowed down to 50 contenders, allowing only one finalist from each state.

Upon the announcement of the winner, Columbiana Mayor Bryan Blakeman expressed delight for the recognition the city received on a national level. According to the mayor, the award will help the city gain popularity among potential residents. Through the city’s good reputation, the mayor is also hoping to attract businesses that can invest in the community.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• If the magazine expanded its contest outside of America, which place in your country would you nominate? Why?
• What do you think is Reader’s Digest’s purpose for holding the “Nicest Places in America” contest? Speculate.

Discussion B

• How do you think a city or town can encourage community spirit among its people? Discuss.
• How can you help strengthen the community spirit in your city or town? Discuss.