COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space

Heart of the Community: Investing in People and Places with Southwest Airlines

Apr 2, 2014
Jan 8, 2018

At Project for Public Spaces, we have been helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities for almost 40 years. From cities activating their downtown squares to librarians taking storytime to the street, Placemaking has grown into an international movement. It's a movement that needs the energy and input of people from all walks of life to get us to the point where everyone is empowered to transform their own communities.

‍Launch day for the third "Heart of the Community" pilot project in Travis Park | San Antonio, Texas

Placemaking is about strengthening the connection between people and the places they share; it’s about understanding that the community is the expert when it comes to creating a vision for our public spaces, and it’s about remembering that shared opportunities for fun, affection, creative expression, and play are worth investing in.

We’re thrilled to announce an exciting new partnership with Southwest Airlines. Working with our partners at Southwest we’ve developed the Heart of the Community program to bring the transformative power of Placemaking to cities across the United States.

The Heart of the Community program is a breakout moment for Placemaking. By investing in Placemaking, Southwest Airlines is making a bold statement about the vital role public spaces play in our communities. And by encouraging their thousands of employees to participate in Placemaking volunteer efforts, Southwest is setting up a network of change agents -- that’s an essential part of the program because to understand the power of Placemaking you have to be part of it.

We’re also excited because Heart of the Community is already creating powerful examples of what Placemaking is. Over the past year we’ve launched three successful pilot projects in Detroit, Providence, and San Antonio. All of these projects have been done in collaboration with the local community and with terrific local partners.

Southwest has also supported an important research effort by MIT’s Department of Urban Studies and Planning, leading to the “Places in the Making” white paper. The paper explores ten important Placemaking case studies and provides valuable insight into just how transformative the Placemaking process can be for communities.

Our partners at Southwest really get how Placemaking is as much about people as it is about places. We can’t wait to start our next round of Heart of the Community projects and see just how many people and places we can reach together.

‍Southwest Airlines CEO Gary Kelly and PPS's President Fred Kent

Press coverage on this partnership below:

Southwest Airlines' new cause: Placemaking | Fortune Magazine Southwest Airlines Introduces Heart of the Community | Wall Street Journal

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COVID-19: The Recovery will Happen in Public Space