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 via informational conference calls and webinars that cover critical topics in community engagement, rural design, partnership development, and workshop planning.

Applying to the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design

Join the National Endowment for the Arts, the Housing Assistance Council, and To Be Done Studio as we answer your questions and offer guidance on the Request for Applications for the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design. This webinar will inform potential applicants about the details of our program—both the local Design Workshops and the Design Learning Cohort—and guide you through our application so that you can best represent your community’s design needs! 

Download the Request for Applications:  RFA

Visit www.rural-design.org for more information about our program.

Rural Design Webinar Series

To maximize impact, the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design Webinar Series will be open to the public. The Webinar Series will also be recorded and shared with CIRD constituents.

Webinar III: Rural Design for a New Future!

Tuesday, August 25, 2020 (1:00pm-2:00pm EST)

So much uncertainty pervades our world right now. How are small communities adapting to a global pandemic and the calls for racial equity? Join Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design for a continued conversation in our Rural Design Webinar Series featuring speakers working on affordable housing the the rural south, entrepreneurship among Native American tribes, and our CIRD-led initiative to renovate a black church in Ohio's Appalachian foothills. 

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This webinar is the third in a three-part series. Be sure to follow CIRD on Facebook and Twitter so you don't miss updates about upcoming webinars.

Webinar I: Predevelopment and Fundraising

Tuesday, February 18th, 2020 (2:00pm-3:00pm EST)

Download the PowerPoint Presentation

Webinar II: The Role of Design in the Time of COVID-19

Wednesday May 20th, 2020 (1:00pm-2:00pm EST)


Past Webinars

Applying to Citizen's Institute on Rural Design

Join the National Endowment for the Arts, buildingcommunityWORKSHOP, and the Housing Assistance Council as we answer your questions and offer guidance on the Request for Applications for the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design. This webinar will inform potential applicants about the details of our program—both the local Workshops and the Learning Cohort—and guide you through our application so that you can best represent your community’s design needs!

Download the PowerPoint Presentation

CIRD 2018 How to Apply

We are pleased to offer a pre-application assistance webinar to help prepare you to submit a competitive 2018 CIRD proposal. 

On this webinar CIRD staff from the National Endowment for the Arts and Project for Public Spaces will provide an overview of the program and answer questions related to the recently released RFP. You'll learn about the application process, eligibility requirements, and selection criteria. 


  • Jen Hughes, design specialist, National Endowment for the Arts
  • Cynthia Nikitin, senior vice president, Project for Public Spaces 

Local Food: The Secret Ingredient for Vibrant Downtowns

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Whether you are a foodie or a farmer, local food is something to embrace. In small towns, the local food movement is doing more than putting meals on plates—it is nourishing economies by keeping farms vital and downtowns alive. Join the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design® for a free hour-long webinar on how farmers’ markets and food co-ops are addressing their local community needs while stimulating downtown development.
Speakers include:
  • Stephanie Bertaina, Program Manager, Vice President Creative Placemaking, Iowa Business Growth;
  • Kelly Verel, Vice President, Project for Public Spaces (PPS);
  • Jason Moore, President, Montana Food Co-op;
  • Fran Stoddard, Communications Consultant, Orton Family Foundation, moderator.

Creative Placemaking: Economic Development for the Next Generation

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Attracting and keeping younger adults is a challenge that many small cities and towns face. Zachary Mannheimer bucked the trend and, after a 22-city road trip, decided to settle in Des Moines, Iowa. Now he’s focused on getting others like him to see the upside of living in smaller places.
Zach’s work takes a fresh approach to economic development in small towns with young people and creative professionals in mind. For example, a vacant hotel in Fort Dodge is being converted into market rate apartments with an in-house cultural center. In Earlham, Iowa residents are converting a downtown building into a restaurant and culinary school.
In this 60-minute webinar, you’ll hear how creative placemaking creates vibrant, attractive communities with viable business models, enthusiastic investors, and dynamic programs.
Speakers include:
  • Zach Mannheimer, Program Manager, Vice President Creative Placemaking, Iowa Business Growth

Thinking Beyond the Town Line: Strengthening Rural Development through Cooperation 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pooling resources and cooperating across town boundaries is a great way for rural communities to gain efficiencies and improve quality of life. Join our free 60-minute webinar to hear how small towns are working together to support each other.
Speakers include:
  • Brett Schwartz, Program Manager, National Association of Development Organizations
  • Sarah Lucas, AICP, Regional Planning Department Manager, Networks Northwest
  • Lori Meadows, Executive Director, Kentucky Arts Council
  • Susan DuPlessis, Program Director, South Carolina Arts Commission

Embracing and Empowering Diverse Communities to Shape Rural Design

Co-hosted with the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design™ and Orton Family Foundation, this free webinar showcases rural communities that have effectively engaged diverse voices in shaping community design projects. Speakers shared how they identified and engaged diverse perspectives, who they partnered with, and what doors have opened as a result.
Speakers include:
  • Shane Hale, City Manager, Cortez, Colorado
  • Joseph Kunkel, Executive Director, Sustainable Native Communities Collaborative
  • Liesel Fenner, Public Art Program Director, Maryland State Arts Council

To help you find other sources of funding, look at the document Yes, Virginia, There is Funding for Rural America to find more links to other government agencies. And to aid your pursuit of funding, Show Me the Money will help you develop effective strategies for securing important capitl to finance projects.


Many rural communities and small towns are rediscovering their recreational and scenic assets and are looking for ways to leverage these assets to boost economic development and community pride. This webinar will highlight great examples of rural trail projects that link people to place and reconnect the human and natural environments--providing access to nature and preserving sensitive ecosystems, while promoting local economic and cultural assets. This free 60-minute webinar is co-sponsored by the Orton Family Foundation and the Citizens' Institute on Rural Design.


Friday, May 15, 2015 - 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Eastern. 

Is your downtown succumbing to vacant and decaying historic buildings? To combat downward momentum, Rick Hauser, mayor of Perry, New York, and owner of In.Site: Architecture developed Main Street, LLC, a community-based for-profit development corporation. Main Street, LLC recognizes the quantitative and qualitative benefits of reversing neglect and urges people to “put their money where their house is.”
On May 15, Rick joined the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design™ (CIRD) for a 60-minute webinar. He offered new insights into a longstanding challenge for towns and small cities—getting the ball rolling to overcome vacancy and blight in key downtown locations.

Blog and Resources:

There are many ways to revitalize a downtown, some of which are listed in CIRD's blogs and resources: Saving Main Street: Eleven Ideas for Spurring Investment in Downtown Businesses and Revitalizing Small Towns: Resolving Downtown Challenges


Thursday, March 12, 2015 - 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Eastern.
In many parts of the country real and perceived differences divide rural and urban communities. Divisions rooted in competing political priorities, divergent cultural norms, and disparate socio-economic conditions often prevent conversations about shared interests.

The emerging practice of rural-urban cooperation capitalizes on the unique assets of both places to bridge divides, build mutual understanding, and infuse creative energy into community and economic development.

Blog and Resources:

For more information about this webinar, read our blog post Four Alliances Demonstrate Urban+Rural = A Powerful Combination.


Tuesday, October 28, 2014 - 1:30 pm - 2:30 pm Eastern.
Brain drain—the loss of 18-29 year olds—dominates the conversation about rural population change. Yet at the same time, a lesser known migration is occurring.  A majority of rural counties are, in fact, experiencing “brain gains” as newcomers age 30-49 move in. 

Most communities aren’t tuned in to positive migration and miss out on the opportunities that come with newcomers. Ben Winchester, Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality, has studied the trend and has great ideas for making the most of positive migration patterns.  

Blog and Resources:

For more information about this webinar, read our blog post entitled Brain Drain or Brain Gain? A New Narrative for Rural America.


Wednesday, August 20, 2014 - 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Eastern.
Urban, not rural, places are usually thought of as hubs of creativity and innovation, but this webinar from the Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design™ turns that notion on its head.

Emily Pilloton of Project H and Mark Rembert and Taylor Stuckert of Energize Clinton County, Ohio use the principles of good design to improve rural places, often in unexpected ways. Join this hour-long webinar highlighting community design that kick starts rural development. You’ll learn smart ways to introduce decision makers to design principles and find appropriate roles for “experts” and outsiders in resident-led design projects.


For more information on how good design can spark creativity, check out our blog post Good Design Sparks Rural Community Development.


Thursday, January 9, 2014 - 3:00 pm - 4:15 pm Eastern.
You’ve got the great ideas and a plan for moving forward, but let’s face it: your community lacks the cash it needs to make it real. This webinar will focus on key sources of funding (including federal funding, grants, and crowdsourcing) and resources to help make design and development projects in small towns, rural areas, and neighborhoods happen. We’ll also cover strategies for creating successful funding pitches and positioning your project for funding applications.


For more sources of funding and strategies to secure them, check out our blog post Show Me the Money.


Thursday, December 12, 2013 - 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Eastern.
After a design or planning process, most communities end up with scores of potential actions. How do you prioritize dozens of competing options? How do you get some cool stuff done without breaking the bank or exhausting your list of volunteers? Easy: start with the petunias. That’s one key lesson from the “Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper” framework. 

Listen to this webinar and learn how to find the easiest, quickest, and most impactful ways to start making things happen in your town. If you are considering using the Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper approach to get things done in your community, we'll be asking a few people to share their story in the webinar!


Read our blog post Start with Petunias: A Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper Approach to Community Action to read up on some great techniques and strategies on implementing the LQC approach.


Thursday, August 22, 2013 - 3:00 pm - 4:00 pm Eastern.
In 2012, Barbara Walters asked four billionaires for their Top 20 Secrets of Success. The #2 secret? "Always be True to Yourself." It turns out that applies to communities, too. Listen to national thought leader Ed McMahon of the Urban Land Institute for an inspirational conversation: Ed will share this and other secrets of successful communities that he has gleaned over the course of decades working in towns across the country.


Thursday, July 25, 2013 - 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm Eastern.
If you want your project to truly succeed, it must reflect the vision and values of the community. But that’s easier said than done. Listen to this webinar to confirm and deepen your understanding of a community’s vision and values, learn how to use that understanding to inform design projects and a range of issues facing communities today, and hear strategies from folks who have succeeded in designing for the vision and values of their community.


Constructing and developing a coherent community vision is essential to progress in your community. Check out our blog posts The Value Behind the Vision and Build Roads for Fish: Last Week’s Call on Designing for Vision and Values to read about the topics covered in this webinar.


Thursday, June 20, 2013 - 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm Eastern.
Psst!! How do you start the buzz about a community design project and get people to participate? Listen to find out… Learn about spreading the word in your town, including tips and tools for working with local press, developing project messaging, and preparing an effective communications plan.


For more information and links to more resources, read our blog posts Seven Tips for Increasing Participation in Your Community Design Project.


Thursday, February 9, 2012 - 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Eastern.
Who says you need a budget and a staff to turn your community around? The Do-It-Yourself era is upon us, from remodeling bathrooms to canning veggies, and the DIY spirit doesn't have stop at community.

This webinar will focus on how to use techniques of "tactical urbanism" - small, lightweight, and often fun or surprising actions - to accomplish big things in your town. We'll hear about a range of ideas, from chair bombing and Park(ing) Day, to the Project for Public Spaces's "Lighter, Quicker, Cheaper" approach, all of which can help you build community and liven up public spaces without breaking your back or the bank.


CIRD's Resource page contains many documents that can guide your DIY process, such as A DIY Guide to Placemaking in Your Neighborhood.


Thursday, February 10, 2011 - 4:00 pm - 5:00 pm Eastern.
“It takes a place to create a community – and a community to create a place.” That’s how the Project for Public Spaces describes the challenge of Placemaking, a process that “capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, ultimately creating good public spaces that promote people’s health, happiness, and well being.”