march eblast copy

It’s been a big year for rural design since PPS partnered with the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) in 2013 to help improve rural communities across the United States. Last year, the pilot program was a complete success, with workshops in four rural communities ripe for design change and placemaking guidance. This year, we are happy to announce the call for proposals for the next round of rural design workshops!

Successful applicants will receive a $7,000 stipend and in-kind design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000. The Request for Proposals, application guidelines, and more information on the program are posted on the CIRD website: www.rural-design.org. But act fast – the deadline for proposals is Tuesday May 6, 2014 at 9:00 pm EST.

model at unveiling

Community members with speakers Rick Hall and Ed Barlow play with James Rojas’ model in Live Oak, Florida.

You can read about other CIRD projects on CIRD’s blog, including the fantastic workshops that were catalytic events in each of the four unique communities in 2013: Lima, NY, Appalachian Eastern KYLive Oak, FL, and Seguin, TX. Though very different, the four communities faced design challenges representative of rural communities throughout the United States: creeping sprawl, unchecked development, post-disaster recovery, economic decline, and health and mobility issues among low income populations. To address these challenges, the communities are working to revitalize and preserve their towns—and even whole regions—using design, art, culture, and economic development, with the tools and design expertise from national experts that CIRD recruited.

Each workshop proved to be a great community gathering with lively visioning exercises, shared meals, and discussions surrounding their town’s assets – each culminating in a road map for implementing future plans. Community members left the workshops more informed about their town’s potential and the collaborative goals for reaching it. And the progress is inspiring! The momentum from the fall workshops is leading to ongoing action in each of the pilot towns:

  • Lima, NY is planning a series of charrettes to refine plans for redeveloping their downtown;
  • Eastern KY received additional funding from the National Endowment for the Arts to organize follow up forums with local partners;
  • Live Oak, FL is continuing discussions to identify strategies for recruiting businesses and increasing visitation in downtown;
  • Seguin, TX will work to establish new amenities, trails and public art for their Walnut Creek Park.
group at Lima sketching2

A group sketches their plans at Lima, New York.

We can’t wait to get involved again and are looking forward to your submissions this year! Apply now, and stay tuned for more updates on the application process and resources—which includes pre-application assistance calls—on rural-design.org, where you can also sign up for CIRD’s newsletter. You can also follow CIRD on twitter @rural_design and Facebook. If you have any questions or ideas, send them over to cird@pps.org!

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (formerly known as “Your Town”) is a National Endowment for the Arts leadership initiative in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Project for Public Spaces, Inc., along with the Orton Family Foundation and the CommunityMatters® Partnership.

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