Help for rural communities facing design challenges

Residents in rural America care deeply about the future of their towns and value their uniqueness, strong sense of community and special places. However, they increasingly face urgent challenges related to their local economies, growth, transportation and protecting the community’s historic and cultural resources. The arts and design can play powerful roles in developing solutions to these challenges. However, few rural communities have access to design assistance or the expertise to tackle these challenges on their own.

The Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD) invites rural communities facing such design challenges to submit proposals to host local workshops in 2013. Each community selected will receive a $7,000 grant and in-kind design expertise and technical assistance valued at $35,000 to support planning and hosting a two-day workshop.

CIRD (formerly known as “Your Town”) works to help rural communities with populations of 50,000 or fewer enhance quality of life and economic vitality through facilitated design workshops. The program brings together local leaders, nonprofits and community organizations with specialists in design, planning and creative placemaking to address such challenges as strengthening economies, enhancing rural character, leveraging cultural assets and designing efficient housing and transportation systems.

CIRD will help communities assemble teams of specialists based on the communities’ needs. The workshops will be augmented with conference calls and webinars led by experts in topics related to rural design. The calls will also be open to the general public.

Communities will be required to provide approximately $7,000 in matching funds (cash or in-kind).

The Request for Proposals is on the CIRD website: The proposal deadline is March 5  at 5 p.m. EST.

CIRD will offer three conference calls to answer questions and provide application guidance. The calls will take place Jan. 23, Feb. 7 and Feb. 28. Participation in each call is free, but registration is required. For details about the calls and to register, visit

The CIRD 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. Previous Your Town workshops held in South Carolina were in Pendleton (2011) and Spartanburg (2006).

Via: Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, National Endowment for the Arts