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Civic Impact

Design Allies: advocating for good planning and design at Design Center

Design Allies is a new effort by Downtown's Design Center (formerly the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh) to get us all thinking about, talking about and advocating for good community planning and design.
"We're looking at this as an opportunity to increase design literacy, not only in Pittsburgh but across the country," says Design Center CEO Steve Glassman.
The effort has begun with a Facebook page and a Design Allies Advocacy App that allows people to sign up for different interest categories -- from "Business Districts and Main Streets" and "Cycling and Trails" to "Sewer Shed and Storm Water Management" and "Zoning and Planning Issues" -- which Glassman hopes will spark informed discussion, giving voice to people about their neighborhoods and city. They will also issue email alerts to notify you about public meetings in your area.

The idea is for Design Allies to ignite public dialogue through Facebook, Twitter and blogs along with lectures, film screenings, and more. People from all walks of life are encouraged to contribute comments and join dialogue online.
Last year, the Design Center shifted its focus to transitional and edge communities -- those that are disadvantaged, destabilized or declining, as well as the edges of other communities trying to hold the line against further decline.
"We have such large issues to address in Pittsburgh," says Glassman, and yet the Center's approach is "to focus on how we can add value to the region … and improve life for those who have not seen the growth and improvement that other neighborhoods have seen in the past 15 or 20 years."
This year, the Design Center plans to increase its Design Fund grants program dramatically, from about $60,000 to $600,000 in funding for individuals and organizations to get pre-development help through the use of design professionals and Design Center expertise.
"This is a year," concludes Glassman, "when I think we're going to see significant change on the ground."
Design Allies is funded by the Heinz Endowments.
Writer: Marty Levine
Source: Stephen A. Glassman, Design Center
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