Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design: Communities Facing Design Challenges
The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design™ (CIRD) is a leadership initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) conducted in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and Project for Public Spaces, Inc., along with the Orton Family Foundation Partnership. Simply stated, rural design utilizes design strategies – improvements to a community’s streets, buildings, public spaces, or landscapes, to address the specific environmental, social, and economic challenges facing rural areas. Rural design is a strategic tool that communities can use to revitalize their Main Streets, manage and direct growth, design community-supportive transportation systems, preserve natural and historic landscapes and buildings, protect working agricultural lands, celebrate and preserve artistic and cultural traditions, and develop contextually sensitive rural design guidelines.
CIRD’s process for improving communities follows a holistic approach, assessing the synergistic roles of streets, sidewalks, buildings, public spaces, commercial districts, natural areas, historic and cultural resources, amenities, activities, securities, management, and other factors in and around the site – all which can contribute to the potential for a true “place.” The process begins with discovering what people in the community need and desire in their public spaces.
Developing locally-driven solutions to these challenges is critical to the long-term vitality of these communities, and rural design can play a powerful role in this process. CIRD helps rural leaders and residents come together to find creative solutions for:
- Growing local businesses and creating local jobs
- Managing changing demographics including: the aging of populations, the out-migration of younger people and the in-migration of international populations
- Siting new growth or redeveloping older town centers effectively
- Maximizing the role that arts and culture can play as an economic driver for local and regional economies
- Forming collaborative multi-sectoral partnerships that cross county lines and town boundaries as well
Amount: This grant provides an opportunity to help up to six communities organize and host a two-and-a-half day community workshop, supported through $10,000 in cash stipends and in-kind technical assistance and design expertise valued at $35,000.
Eligibility: CIRD supports rural communities and small towns with a population of 50,000 or less. Community is defined broadly, not just the town center or area within town boundary, but also the surrounding areas that depend on its goods and services and contribute to its economic base, including agricultural lands, scenic and natural landmark and preserves, and an areas used for recreation. State-level entities may support the application, but cannot serve as the primary applicant. Lead applicants may be: municipal, tribal, or county governments; local nonprofit organizations, including but not limited to such entities as Main Street organizations, art centers, preservation groups, historical societies, or chambers of commerce; regional planning organizations; or university community design centers or university agricultural/extension offices located within 50 miles of the community.
Note: An application preparation webinar will be held on November 10, 2015.
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