Representatives of more than 15 rural towns and communities in Texas participated in a Your Town workshop in September coordinated by Historic Fort Worth. The workshop was held in Granbury, 35 miles southwest of Fort Worth. Most of the participants came from small towns south and southwest of Fort Worth, an area that is experiencing diverse challenges caused by rapid growth and suburban sprawl associated with one of the most rapidly growing cities in the country.
Mary Saltarelli of Historic Fort Worth worked with Michelle Weaver Jones, of the Carl Small Town Center at Mississippi State, and Daniel Carey, Director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Southwest produce the workshop.
The roster of speakers was as expansive and impressive as Texas skies can be. It included Ed McMahon, Pratt Cassity, Fritz Steiner, Fernando Costa, Daniel Carey, Marcel Quimby, Dennis Wilson, and Kimberly Brown. Ed spoke in Fort Worth as the featured speaker at Historic Fort Worth’s annual Samuel Benton Cantey III Historic Preservation Lecture to an audience of about 150 people. “I was on the edge of my seat,” wrote one participant. “So much of what he said resonated with me and my colleagues. If Mr. McMahon could speak to every community in Texas, we would be the No. 1 tourism state.” Pratt’s presentation was similarly lauded with such compliments as, “fabuloso,” “excellent,” “powerful,” and “entertaining.”
The small-group work on design problems was the highlight of the workshop. The problems dealt with infill development on a vacant church property located near Granbury’s courthouse square; mixed-use zoning and transportation designs; and the development and conservation of rural open space outside Granbury. All of the drawings and problem solutions prepared by workshop participants were presented to the mayor of Granbury by Historic Fort Worth for the town’s use.
-Excerpted from Your Town: Citizens’ Institute on Rural Design, Update, Fall, 2007