Friends, we are happy to share the news that Art of the Rural has moved to a newly designed space at artoftherural.org.
Please adjust your bookmarks and RSS feed and join us over there!
CIRD (formerly known as "Your Town") works to help rural communities with populations of 50,000 or fewer enhance their quality of life and economic vitality through facilitated design workshops. The program brings together local leaders, non-profits, and community organizations with a team of specialists in design, planning, and creative placemaking to address challenges like strengthening economies, enhancing rural character, leveraging cultural assets, and designing efficient housing and transportation systems.
Since the program's inception in 1991, CIRD has convened more than 60 workshops in all regions of the country with results that range from the development of public art plans and business improvement districts, to funding for the design of waterfront parks and pedestrian-friendly streetscape improvements.
Each community selected to participate in the Institute will receive $7,000 to support planning and hosting a two-day workshop. Communities will be required to provide approximately $7,000 in matching funds (cash or in-kind). CIRD will work with the communities to assemble teams of specialists based on the communities' individual needs. The workshops will be augmented with conference calls and webinar presentations led by experts who will cover topics related to rural design. The calls will also be open to the general public through CommunityMatters.
The new website at www.rural-design.org is a portal for resources on rural design gathered from diverse organizations across the country. It will be a place for interested citizens to connect with one another and get information about improving design in their own communities.
Take, for instance, the protagonist of Lorrie Moore’s A Gate at the Stairs, a young woman named Tassie raised in rural Wisconsin, who describes the shock of her first term at her state university:"Twice a week a young professor named Thad, dressed in jeans and a tie, stood before a lecture hall of sunned farm kids like me and spoke thrillingly of Henry James’s masturbation of the comma. I was riveted. I had never before seen a man wear jeans with a tie."The deadpan Midwestern humor, so pointedly stark in its syntax, brilliantly evokes the moment of initiation into Theory.
In earlier days, much Midwestern literature was super-realistic: the work of Theodore Dreiser and James T. Farrell come to mind, not to mention the wonderful work of black Midwestern authors such as Richard Wright and Lorraine Hansberry. But later writing reveals an urge to the bizarre, a sort of magic realism absent from the epics of the South or the hard-boiled policiers of the West. Keillor uses this. So does the baseball writing of W.P. Kinsella, such as Shoeless Joe (the inspiration for Field of Dreams) and The Iowa Baseball Confederacy. It's no accident that Ray Bradbury's Midwestern youth led to so much his work.