Hot on the heels of last week’s announcement of our participation in the Orton Family Foundation’s new CommunityMatters Partnership, we are thrilled to share with you the first projects that PPS will be taking on as part of that initiative. Beginning July 1, 2012, PPS will be partnering with CommunityMatters, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the US Department of Agriculture to help rural communities across the United States to rediscover their identity and reshape their cultural landscape through the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design.

As the collaborating organization with the NEA, we see this exciting partnership as an opportunity to pull together innovative rural planning and design practitioners with communities that are looking to apply new models of Placemaking. We are also excited to help build on the emerging “Creative Placemaking” models that have been lead by the NEA and help apply them to rural areas, integrating them with broader Placemaking processes.

The common sense principles and tools of our Placemaking approach have long thrived in rural communities. Currently, through the Livability Solutions program, we are working in several small towns, including a Placemaking workshop in the towns of Colfax and Owen, Wisconsin, which will take place next week. We look forward to drawing on experiences from our work in communities across all 50 states, and to disseminating this information more broadly through an online resource site and capacity-building workshops on the ground.

We are especially excited to be partnering with our colleagues at Orton, who have long been national leaders in helping rural communities shape their futures. The foundation has regularly convened local and national leaders and drawn out the best in a wide range of practices and contexts for rural planning. They have pioneered a Heart and Soul Planning approach that has proven complementary to our Placemaking process and tools through joint workshops. The CommunityMatters partnership will serve as strong resource and network to support the CIRD.

As caretakers of the CIRD program, we are inspired to help it grow to serve rural communities to its fullest capacity, and to collaborate with new local and national partners. Please feel free to get in touch with us to share ideas as we work to evolve and shape this program.

Click here to read the full press release on the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design.