While design principles are increasingly being incorporated into community planning and development projects, many rural communities don't have the creative capacity necessary for this work. Small towns just aren’t bursting at the seams with urban designers and architects.
Creative professionals are trained with an eye toward innovative and context-sensitive solutions to complex challenges. Without designers at our disposal we may fail to see all the great options for growing a village center, establishing welcoming public spaces or revitalizing downtown.
So, how might we encourage a greater emphasis on design in rural community development? A few examples give us hope.
The Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State University offers a workshop for public officials and community partners on how to promote and implement good design in their communities. Epicenter in Green River, Utah offers a four-week fellowship for creative professionals. Energize Clinton County in Wilmington, Ohio provides pro bono design services for local businesses to spur economic development. And, the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design™ combines expert experience with local knowledge to address a pressing design challenge.
These are just a few cases that illustrate the growing trend toward rural design in community development.