1/13/14

New program helps communities evaluate, value, and enhance their public spaces

Public spaces are a critical and vital element of every community, but they’re value and impact can often be overlooked. Community groups, planners, neighborhood groups and more need tools that will help them evaluate their public spaces and plan for preserving, enhancing, and improving the shared spaces we sometimes take for granted. 

To help local decision makers harness the power of public spaces, IISG and Purdue University Extension have launched a new program, Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces, which offers continuing education and resources tailored to regional, community, business, and neighborhood leaders interested in building sustainable communities. The training program provides a framework for collecting data on community needs and using that data to plan public space improvements. 

“This program will help regions, communities, and neighborhoods preserve and enhance assets that define the area,” said Kara Salazar, sustainable communities extension specialist for Illinois-Indiana Sea Grant and Purdue University Extension. “The program will also help community leaders charged with managing public spaces and implementing new projects to build communities that are more resilient to economic and environmental changes.” 

Participants will work with Purdue Extension specialists and educators to learn more about the vital role parks, town centers, and other public spaces play in the long-term economic, social, and environmental health of communities. Collaborative activities will also introduce participants to best practices for improving public spaces and give them the tools they need to plan and implement projects tailored to their community. Participants are encouraged to bring laptops for this portion of the workshop. 

The program kicks off later this month with a series of workshops listed below. Purdue Extension specialists and educators will introduce best practices for improving public spaces and provide example projects that are already underway in the state of Indiana. Participants will also complete a strategic plan for a public space project tailored to their community.

Each workshop will begin with registration at 9:30 a.m. and run until 3:00 p.m. A catered lunch will be provided. 
 
January 23, 2014 – Harrison County Extension Office
February 6, 2014 – Allen County Extension Office
February 13, 2014 – Woodland Park, Portage
February 18, 2014 – Location TBD – Vigo County
February 27, 2014 – Gibson County Extension Office 

To learn more about Enhancing the Value of Public Spaces and other Purdue University and IISG sustainability programs and resources, contact IISG’s sustainable communities extension specialist Kara Salazar.

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