Rob Walker ventures to Hale County to assess the impact that two decades of social design experiments have had on a place where "[j]obs are scarce; per-capita income is low; the poverty rate is high; [and] affordable housing is a problem." Walker examines the work of Auburn University's Rural Studio, a "design blitz" program called "Project M" and other revitalization efforts, and speaks with local residents to see first-hand how the high-profile efforts that've been featured in countless articles, books, exhibits, and a documentary have fared.
"It's safe to say that Hale County has done a lot for design," says Walker. "But what has design done for Hale County?"
"On an individual level, for sure, design and architecture have changed lives in this place--definitively, and for the better," he continues. "Pull back, and it gets harder to gauge the impact."