Adversity has the same effects on institutions, communities and individuals: usually it causes their spirits to plummet, but in other cases, against all odds, their souls can soar. This is a tale of two communities, much alike; yet for one it is the worst of times, for the other things are improving dramatically. Newport and Merthyr Tydfil are my subjects; what they have in common seems obvious enough: substantial and cliché misrepresentation accompanying 150 years of gross exploitation. Their industrial histories differ but both have experienced similar downward trajectories, encompassing raped then sterilised landscapes; broad spectrum postindustrial blight; opportunities missed (frequently through misplaced governmental fiat but equally through selfengendered bad planning); misplaced (though sporadically successful) regeneration attempts; regenerative opportunities passed over; remoteness from power centres, among many other misfortunes. On the plus side, both have superb assets to be optimised: great monuments of civil engineering and industrial processes; unique or highly distinctive man-made structures; easy access to superb landscapes, and so on. Each community is extraordinarily well-endowed in having a long and rich – indeed world-class – political history, distinguished particularly by episodes of extremely vigorous protest and bedrock links with radical socialism. So, in the light of such abundant commonality, what differentiates them now?