The communities of rural America are facing a range of critical problems. In some cases, these problems are heavy out-migration and a loss of jobs. In others, it is rapid growth from suburban sprawl, the location of a new facility, or an influx of retirement population. These problems affect the vitality of the community, its design and sense of place. The “Your Town” workshop focuses on an important aspect of community spirit and community integrity: the process of design. The workshop aims specifically to introduce small town and rural technical assistance providers and decision makers to the role of design in community planning.
Workshop Content. The workshop course material addresses a range of issues in rural community planning. The curriculum focuses on the process by which rural communities construct a vision about their future, evaluate natural and cultural assets, and implement decisions about how their community should look and function. The aim is not to promote specific answers to specific questions but, rather, a framework for problem solving. Materials are presented in a highly visual format, principally through slides and maps. The workshop includes slide lectures, group discussions, workshops, case-study presentations, and group problem solving on a hypothetical “Your Town.” Much of the workshop is accomplished in small groups which assigned at registration. Workshop course material includes the following topics:
- Design Changes in Rural America: The Forces at Work. An overview of the major forces that are affecting the rural landscape.
- The Design Process. The process by which design decisions are made and implemented and the key design concepts behind good community planning.
- Natural & Cultural Resources Inventory & Analysis. How to inventory and evaluate a community’s natural and cultural resources.
- Getting and Managing Design Assistance. Resources for design assistance and the process of assessing design needs and soliciting and managing design assistance.
- Local Case Study Panels. Success stories in using the design process to solve local problems or address special resources and a discussion of economic development, planning, and design issues.
- Communicating Your Vision. A workshop in graphics techniques and mapping.
- “Your Town” Problem Solving. An exercise in applying the design process. Groups are presented with hypothetical town with real-world problems. Using a series of maps and other information about the town, the groups work toward solutions which they map, illustrate, and present to the other groups for discussion.
Faculty. Materials are presented by the faculty of the Auburn University Center for Architecture and Urban Studies, their associated experts, and other notable guest speakers and presenters.
“Your Town: Designing Our Future” workshops are sponsored by the Alabama Association of Resource Conservation & Development Councils and its affiliates, the Alabama Historical Commission, Alabama Association of Regional Councils, the University of Alabama Center for Economic Development, the Auburn University Center for Architecture and Urban Studies, Cawaco RC&D Council, Regional Planning Commission of Greater Birmingham, the Center for Regional Planning and Design, Alabama Power Corporation and other statewide and local sponsors and a dedicated Steering Committee of concerned volunteers and civic leaders.