Gina Clifford told the local Rotarians that officials with Design Alabama believe that attention to good design leads to a better quality of life.
“We want greener spaces; we want community development; and we want walkable spaces,” she said.
Rather than providing plans for landscaping or renovations to communities, Design Alabama helps educate community leaders and connect them with architects and designers.
One of Design Alabama’s most prominent programs is the group’s annual Mayor’s summit. For the last seven years, the organization has held a conference for five mayors in Alabama.
“It’s meant to get them to think about design and learn about design, and use that in their final plan,” Clifford said.
At the conference, the mayors meet with six design professionals to discuss the needs of each mayor’s community. Before the meeting, each of the design professionals visit each mayor and his or her city.
This year, the five mayors will come from communities affected by the April 27 tornadoes — including Cordova Mayor Drew Gilbert.
Design Alabama, which is based in Montgomery, is a 501(c)3 nonprofit and receives its primary funding from the Alabama State Council on the Arts.
It is also supported by groups like the Alabama Power Foundation, Birmingham’s Daniel Foundation, the Alabama Humanities Foundation and, more recently, the Walker Area Community Foundation.
The WACF’s $1,500 grant to the Mayor’s Summit paid for Gilbert to attend the conference.
“I just think it’s so important for the mayor to be exposed to the professionals in the design field of Alabama,” said Paul Kennedy, executive director of the WACF.
Kennedy said that since each of the mayors are dealing with storm recovery, the summit will also provide the community leaders with an instant support group.
Kennedy will also hold a presentation at the conference.
For more information about Design Alabama, visit the organization’s website at www.designalabama.org.