Community Cultural Economic Plans
small produces Community Cultural Economic Plans, which address the opportunities intrinsic to the cultural heritage of rural communities. The Plans propose a Cultural Heritage Development Framework for the community to consider in preparing future planning: its values, its vision, and its priorities. The Plans identify a planning context, outline a planning process, and provide benefits and guidelines for possible development policies based on the incorporation of the community’s cultural heritage resources. We know that economic sustainability is intrinsically tied to social and environmental sustainability, and the ecological health of an area depends on diversity of development. We believe that a holistic approach to sustainability is vital to any sort of lasting change.
Community Visioning – Opportunities Development
As a complementary service to our Community Cultural Economic Plans, we develop implementable communications and marketing plans around the identified opportunities. This consists of a series of presentations developed to be presented both internally to current residents, and externally, to possible investors, new residents, small businesses and neighbouring communities which may be able to combine resources on these initiatives.
Community Builds are key deliverables within the small program. In partnership with the community and local architecture students, we design and build a small-scale permanent installation in the community. We document the design/build project, such that it may be used by the community or by neighbouring communities to imagine the potential in their own context. In addition to the design-build, related community engagement activities are undertaken to communicate the reasoning behind the project and celebrate the local heritage, which will be highlighted through the installation. We see the Build as a key element of our broader research work, to engage the community and create a permanent structure that speaks to both the cultural heritage of the site and the possible economic benefits.
Cultural Heritage Impact Evaluation
Our Cultural Heritage Impact Evaluation Reports assess the impact of potential development on built and cultural heritage, including environmental, social and economic impacts.
We work with local heritage, planning and economic development staff to address matters of cultural heritage, and to develop or comment on design strategies appropriate for the historic character of the site, and that anticipate current and future site requirements.
In partnership with regional post-secondary institutions, we develop educational programming in order to facilitate exchanges, develop our Community Build teams, and encourage sustained research into issues facing rural communities.
Studios: We develop and lead seminars and studios for planning, urban design, architectural and geography students on the subjects of rural migration, community-based adaptive reuse, and cultural heritage (tangible and intangible).
Design/Build Exercises: We partner with architectural programs and carpentry/trade schools to undertake our Community Builds. A team of six students spends up to two weeks in residence in a community, living, eating and working alongside community volunteers and the small team. The students often take the lead on the design process, gaining invaluable experience in design coordination, community feedback, and project administration.
Internships/Exchanges: We work with programs such as MITACS and the Ontario Centres of Excellence to offer student internships within our office, as well as facilitate short-term exchanges between rural and urban centres.