• Creative Placemaking Needs to Happen Now in Small Towns

    Zachary Mannheimer was a featured speaker in the webinar, Creative Placemaking: Economic Development for the Next Generation on March 23, 2017, co-sponsored by the Orton Family Foundation. This is an interview with Zachary about the work he does and what motivates him. 

  • Housing Rural America: Funding Rural Affordable Housing and Community Revitalization

    Rural housing

    Rural residents face several barriers to affordable housing because of lower incomes and higher poverty rates in rural areas. Residents also struggle with substandard housing conditions and additional associated costs including maintenance repair and healthcare costs.

  • Riding the Trail to Revitalization: Rural and Small Town Trail-Oriented Development

    Trace Trail bike race

    Trail-based development is an exciting opportunity to create engaging, healthy, and vibrant small towns and rural communities. The 31-mile-long Tammany Trace Trail in St. Tammany Parish, Louisiana and the 2.4 mile-long Radnor Multipurpose Trail in Radnor Township, Pennsylvania have both added value to the communities and become important amenities for locals and visitors alike. A major challenge facing many rural American communities is strengthening and diversifying the economy. Making a place welcoming, beautiful, and usable for the community while also creating an attractive setting for new business investment is a key step in development and ensuring a vibrant future for communities. “Trail-Oriented Development” (TrOD) is a tool which capitalizes on trails as community amenities and leverages the placemaking and development potential adjacent to trails and has been shown to be a powerful economic engine for small towns and rural communities. 

  • Building Connections and Communities: The Rural Creative Placemaking Summit

    This past October, Art of the Rural and the Rural Policy Research Institute (RUPRI) hosted the Next Generation: Rural Creative Placemaking Summit at the University of Iowa. The summit, sponsored by the NEA, USDA, and the University of Iowa, was designed to enhance cross-sector collaboration, elevate intercultural perspectives within the field, and foster greater investment for rural creative placemaking. This summit provided learning lessons from different contexts and geographies and emphasized the importance of rural creative placemaking as a strategy for community development. A key theme at the conference was that collaboration is key for successful development.

  • Local Food Systems and Rural Development

    A farmers’ market in Corbin , KY  helps regenerate Main Street and fosters excitement within the community about future development. Meanwhile, a community school garden in Postville, IA provides a setting for social interaction and encourages physical activity and nutrition education for local youth.  Farmers’ markets, food trucks, and community gardens are all tactics rural communities can use to encourage and sustain agricultural business activities and improve local food system accessibility.  Local food systems are important for the health, sustainability and economic vitality of rural communities. They can stimulate additional business activity within the local economy, improve business skills and opportunities, spur consumer spending at other businesses, encourage healthier food choices, and increase programming and activities which draw people to places.