• The Whole Is Greater than the Sum of Its Parts: A Journey through Lancaster County’s Towns and Villages

    Within a stone’s throw of the state capital of Nebraska are the twelve incorporated towns and villages of Lancaster County. Their populations hover around a few hundred each, save for the 3,227 residents of Waverly. The proximity of these communities to Lincoln is both blessing and curse. The nearby schools, institutions, jobs, retail, restaurants, and cultural destinations are fantastic assets. Yet, the flip side is Lincoln dominates the majority of economic and cultural activity in the county. The towns of Lancaster County want to be seen as more than just bedroom communities. They want to provide a diverse set of experiences and services, both public and private. More than anything, they want their residents to have a sense of ownership and civic pride over their community. In this context, Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design , in partnership with the The Lincoln/Lancaster County Planning Department oversaw a two-and-a-half day workshop intended to create a toolbox of design techniques and resources to help the villages of Lancaster County recapture their sense of place. There is no single path for achieving these goals, but the folks of Lancaster County already had a better sense than most that it requires a mixture of services, programming, and amenities.

  • Saving Main Street: Eleven Ideas for Spurring Investment in Downtown Businesses

    Does it feel like every time you walk downtown one more storefront is vacant? Combating the downward momentum of vacancy and neglect is no easy feat. Here are eleven ideas for spurring investment in downtown businesses that can put your town on a path toward revitalization.

  • Tips for More Nimble and Inclusive Rural Design

    We spoke to Maria Sykes, a citizen architect and the co-founder of the public interest design firm Epicenter, to learn more about what it takes for rural projects to become successful.

  • Start Dreaming, Houston!

    The board that architecture students from Mississippi State University created to gather feedback, with the workshop participants' ideas.

    We got a taste of Houston, Mississippi's creativity and energy during their Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design™ workshop, which explored how to transform the trailhead of the Tanglefoot Trail  into a great community public space, and how to create a stronger connection between the trail and Houston’s downtown.

  • Four Alliances Demonstrate That Urban + Rural = A Powerful Combination

    Photo Credit:  Linda Broeren, Flickr Creative Commons, https://flic.kr/p/oGEuGs

    Urban and rural communities are increasingly acknowledging areas of interdependence and common interests. Here are four examples of partnerships capitalizing on the unique assets of both rural and urban places to infuse creative energy into community development.