Last week, a team from PPS traveled to Tupelo, a small town in Mississippi famous as Elvis’ birthplace, to work with the  Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association to conduct a Placemaking Demonstration Project as part of PPS’ new partnership with The National Trust for Historic Preservation.

PPS helped build a new vision to connect Tupelo's core to the town's greatest destinations with local stakeholders and professionals. Here the PPS, National Main Street Center and Mississippi Main Street team meets with Greg Pirkle, Chairman of Tupelo's Major Thoroughfare Committee (right).

The PPS team joined forces with local stakeholders to conduct a week-long series of workshops and meetings to build a new vision for the town’s Main Street and transportation plan that will unite Tupelo’s many destinations and highlight the town’s unique heritage and history.

While this pilot project focused on the unique opportunities and challenges of Tupelo’s Main Street, it advanced larger goals: PPS and the National Trust were able to blend Placemaking and Main Street principles in a real-world setting and gained a new, grounded understanding of the many ways that these time-tested strategies can amplify each other. In many ways this new partnership is a natural fit: the mission of the National Trust shares a deep resonance with the principles of Placemaking: to “bring people together to protect, enhance and enjoy the places that matter to them.”

Steve Davies, PPS Senior VP, facilitates the "Power of 10" Lunch in Tupelo as stakeholders identify the most important places in their community.

Tupelo is far from the only Mississippi town to benefit from this collaboration:  Main Street Coordinators from towns across the state also participated in PPS-led workshops and trainings. Armed with this new knowledge of Placemaking, coordinators are now poised to energize on-going preservation efforts in their towns.

Tupelo City Council Member Fred Pitts was one of the training participants working to build a common vision for revitalizing Tupelo's core.

Workshop discussions focused on ways to increase connections between transportation and land-use planning, unite destinations throughout East and West Tupelo, and reorient Tupelo’s development practices around its historic center in order to reign in sprawl and create a more economically and environmentally sustainable future.  Making active transportation a more feasible option will also contribute to community health. Uniting Placemaking and Historic Preservation Principles is a promising way towards a more bikeable, walkable, livable Main Street that honors and celebrates Tupelo’s rich history.

Check out this enthusiastic and extensive coverage of the workshops from the local press in Tupelo:

Tupelo residents and the Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association have an energetic team ready to implement short-term recommendations in the very near future. Updates to follow!

This visit to Tupelo is just one part of PPS’ partnership with the National Trust: join Gary Toth, Fred Kent and Steve Davies at the end of month when they present at the Annual National Preservation Conference hosted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, October 27-30 in Austin, Texas.