CIRD supports host communities before and after their workshops via informational conference calls and webinars that cover critical topics in community engagement, rural design, partnership development, and workshop planning.

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CIRD supports rural communities and small towns with a population of 50,000 or less. CIRD defines “community” broadly: not just the town center or area within the town boundary, but also the surrounding areas that depend on its goods and services and contribute to its economic base, including agricultural lands, scenic and natural landmarks and preserves, and areas used for recreation. Suburban communities, which are typically located within or adjacent to a metropolitan area, and where the primary land use is residential, are not eligible to apply. State-level entities may support an application, but cannot serve as the primary applicant. The following entities are eligible to serve as the lead applicants for CIRD workshops:

  • Municipal, tribal, or county governments;
  • Local nonprofit organizations, including but not limited to such entities as main street organizations, art centers, preservation groups, historical societies, or chambers of commerce;
  • Regional planning organizations;
  • University community design centers or university agricultural/extension offices located within 50 miles of the community.

Applicants must have a clear understanding of their rural design challenge. Below are some topics from past Rural Design Workshops. 

Past CIRD workshops have focused on and resulted in: 

  • Main street revitalization 
  • Design of cultural trails 
  • Arts-based community development 
  • Economic development that builds the local community 
  • Land and agricultural conservation 
  • Transportation planning 
  • Design of age-friendly communities 
  • Connecting recreation trails to downtowns 
  • Place and community brand identity 
  • Fostering collaborative regional partnerships 
  • Creating new or improving existing community public spaces 
  • Enhancing a sense of place and community 

Community buy-in and action is rarely successful without the support and active participation of community partners, so we encourage applicants to begin building local partnerships during the application process in order to apply as a team. Communities will have the opportunity to apply with up to four partners. Learn more about our workshops here.

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