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New Leadership for Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design Brings Broad Reach

by David Lipsetz

Children in front of a mural - Photo: [bc]

The National Endowment for the Arts has selected the Housing Assistance Council (HAC) as its partner for the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design (CIRD), one of the Arts Endowment’s leadership initiatives. As HAC’s CEO, I couldn’t be more excited.

CIRD‘s goal is to enhance the quality of life and economic viability of rural America through planning, design, and creative placemaking. It offers communities access to the resources they need to convert their own good ideas into reality. The program awards competitive funding to small towns and rural and tribal communities to host multi-day community design workshops. With support from a wide range of design, planning, and creative placemaking professionals, the workshops bring together residents and local leaders from non-profits, community organizations, and government to develop actionable solutions to the community’s pressing design challenges. Following the workshop, the community receives additional support through webinars, web-based resources, and customized follow-up support.

HAC CEO David Lipsetz tours housing projects on the Pine Ridge reservation

If you are familiar with CIRD, but haven’t worked with HAC before, you might be wondering why a housing organization was chosen. Let me tell you a bit about us and hopefully it becomes clear. HAC’s mission is to build homes and communities across rural America. We’ve been doing so for nearly 50 years and have worked with over 10,000 rural communities.

HAC is attuned to rural life. We appreciate that every small town is unique. We understand that projects succeed or fail on the strength of local leadership and engagement. We see our job as building the capacity of local organizations to thrive well after we are gone. We know housing, but in rural places you never have the luxury of working with only one of the tools of community development. You must be able to wear many hats, and over the years we’ve amassed quite a collection.

I’m eager to watch CIRD’s core mission carried out through HAC. I’m equally eager to watch the interaction—both locally and nationally—of rural housing and community development practitioners working alongside designers and planners. CIRD will maintain its competitive funding for small and tribal communities to host multi-day design workshops. We will leverage our 50-state reach and capacity building network to bring peer learning and design-rooted capacity building to an additional 20 communities, and couple it with support for navigating funding opportunities. In late May 2019, CIRD will release a Request for Applications, inviting communities to apply for the program. Join CIRD’s mailing list to stay abreast.

If you are reading this post, you probably already know of rural and tribal communities that are trendsetters in design and creative placemaking. They often want to continue turning their community-rooted design ideas into reality. They want steady funding streams, coupled with the know-how to access such. They want to exchange ideas and break bread with their rural peers, gaining hands-on exposure to best practices. And they want to engage with the country’s best designers, including architects, planners, and other experts with a rural bent. They need a repository for what works and connection to a national conversation, boosting their collective capacity. HAC has been creating such connections for decades, and the National Endowment for the Arts has given HAC the resources to build even more via CIRD.

buildingcommunityWORKSHOP (bc), a nonprofit community design organization, will join HAC as a key partner in carrying out CIRD. bc is known for engaging low-income communities with award winning design and planning. bc has earned the respect of local partners in Texas, the Rio Grande Valley, and beyond. Their expertise is a perfect complement to HAC’s reach and reputation for building local capacity.

CIRD - Studio in the Park

The National Endowment for the Arts and HAC have committed to furthering CIRD’s reach because CIRD works. HAC hopes to spend a decade leading CIRD in close consultation with a CIRD Steering Committee comprised of rural design leaders. Behind the National Endowment for the Arts decision to select HAC is HAC’s success with a National Endowment for the Arts-funded creative placemaking award, HAC’s groundbreaking report on Placemaking in Native American Communities, and a growing consensus among policymakers, pundits, and most recently the National Governors Association that arts, placemaking, and design are drivers of rural economic development.

NEA’s support is also allowing HAC to host bc and several design fellows and other visitors at the intersection of rural and design to collaborate. Deliberate co-locating of top designers and planners with HAC’s expertise in rural policy and programs will deepen everyone’s understanding. The idea grew out of a bc-led session at HAC’s recent National Rural Housing conferences. HAC has an ear to the ground in rural America; merging such with bc’s design bona fides and a mutual respect for rural practitioners will bring about design rooted upshot for hundreds of small towns.

Finally, HAC will put CIRD’s track record and potential to work with philanthropy and other non-government actors. Ensuring quality rural design on a scale commensurate with the need for such requires investment from business and foundations. In boosting CIRD’s funding level to reach up to 20 additional communities, the National Endowment for the Arts signaled a commitment to rural design as a driver of rural prosperity—even in a competitive funding environment. Private and public support, including Community Reinvestment Act-motivated capital toward creative and design-focused endeavors is already producing results. We are looking for several more foundations and financial institutions to join our journey.

Way back in 1971, HAC’s founders called for “foster(ing) planning” and “citizen participation in housing and community benefit” on a national scale. They were prescient in outlining the importance of locally-driven planning and citizen participation. I’m glad that the National Endowment for the Arts is trusting HAC, via CIRD and with bcWORKSHOP, to take on work that our founders knew as important, then and now.

Housing Assistance Council to receive $20,000 Grant from the National Endowment for the Arts

Contact: Dan Stern
202-842-8600
dan@ruralhome.org

Washington, DC, February 14, 2019 – The Housing Assistance Council (HAC) is among organizations and individuals receiving funding as part of the Arts Endowment’s first major funding announcement for fiscal year 2019. This Art Works grant of $20,000 will allow HAC to work with local partners and engage visual artists to create a new collection of photos for exhibition, building on and celebrating the legacy of renowned social photographer George Ballis. Art Works is the Arts Endowment’s principal grantmaking program.

George Ballis spent his career advocating for and chronicling vulnerable populations across the United States and around the world. His work with Cesar Chavez helped build the impetus for the creation of the first farmworker housing programs. HAC will use the grant funds to revisit some of the locations where Ballis originally worked and engage a new generation of visual artists to build on Ballis For more information on this National Endowment for the Arts grant announcement, visit arts.gov/news.

“The arts enhance our communities and our lives, and we look forward to seeing these projects take place throughout the country, giving Americans opportunities to learn, to create, to heal, and to celebrate,” said Mary Anne Carter, acting chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts.

“George Ballis was a skilled photographer and equally adept at advocating for persistently poor rural populations and communities,” said HAC CEO David Lipsetz. “His photos and his partnership with Cesar Chavez helped illustrate dire housing conditions for farmworkers in the late 1960s and early 1970s, galvanizing support for this vulnerable population. HAC’s early work intersected with Ballis and HAC is excited to partner with the National Endowment for the Arts to create and display new art rooted in Ballis’ still-timely body of work.”

About the Housing Assistance Council
The Housing Assistance Council helps build homes and communities across rural America. Founded in 1971 and headquartered in Washington, D.C., HAC is a national nonprofit and a certified community development financial institution dedicated to helping local rural organizations build affordable homes by providing below-market financing, technical assistance, training, research, and information services. To learn more, visit www.ruralhome.org.

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Rural Placemaking: Making the Most of Creativity in your Community

This issue of Rural Voices examines Creative Placemaking as it is practiced in rural communities. The term “creative placemaking” is only about a decade old, but rural community organizations have long taken on community-building endeavors that have included the arts. Creative placemaking offers the explicit recognition that arts and artists, when fully engaged with local stakeholders, are often a gel or a catalyst toward sustained community betterment and economic growth.

VIEW FROM WASHINGTON

Illuminate, Connect, Energize, and Imagine: The Arts in Rural America
by Jen Hughes

The National Endowment for the Arts offers funding and technical assistance for rural creative placemaking across the United States.

FEATURES

A Tool for Economic Development in the Mississippi Delta
by Chris Masingill

The Delta Creative Placemaking Initiative encourages communities to engage more deeply with the region’s arts and culture sectors.

Housing Developers Come Together with Arts Groups and Artists
by Bob Reeder

An expert advises rural community developers to keep their placemaking work inclusive, culturally relevant, and economically equitable.

Bridging Boundaries: Contributing to Quality of Life on the Reservation
by Joseph Kunkel

A collaborative process encompassing community, culture, and the environment contributes to the success of a tribal development project.

Kentucky Communities Use Their Creative Assets
by Sandi Curd

Placemaking, at its core, is fostering what is abundant in rural Kentucky: a strong sense of place coupled with people dedicated to making their communities stronger.

Placemaking Grants Support Rural Communities

The smART Kinston City Project Foundation in Kinston, NC and the Woodlands Development Group in Elkins, WV will implement rural creative placemaking initiatives during summer and fall 2017.


Rural Voices would like to hear what you have to say about one, or all, of these issues. Please feel free to comment on this story by sending a tweet to #RuralVoicesMag, discuss on the Rural Affordable Housing Group on LinkedIn, or on our Facebook page.

Webinar: Creative Placemaking 101 + Funding Opportunity

Materials Posted

Power Point Presentation | Webinar Recording

Join the Housing Assistance Council and bcWORKSHOP for a two-part webinar series on rural Creative Placemaking. Creative placemaking is a method of working between community developers, housing organizations and local stakeholders to strengthen communities. Rural Placemaking brings together people to share food, stories, art, experiences, and histories and enables neighbors to talk, learn, and organize in rural communities in the continental United States.

This webinar, the first in the two-part series “Creative Placemaking 101 + Funding Opportunity” will focus on:

  • defining and describing creative placemaking;
  • explaining the importance of placemaking for rural community development;
  • outlining bcWORSHOP’s rural creative placemaking process via the Activating Vacancy (AV) process;
  • announcing the AV request for rural proposals; and
  • proposal Q&A for interested parties.