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8th Annual Mayors Design Summit by DesignAlabama

Image map from Mayors Summit

DesignAlabama has a long history of advocacy for design and the design professions. Their annual Mayors Summit is modeled on the National Endowment for the Arts’ Mayors Institute that was founded by the architect/mayor of Charleston, South Carolina, the Honorable Joe Riley. He founded this program because he believes that a town's mayor should be its “chief planner.” 

This was DesignAlabama’s eighth Summit. Each year five mayors come together with a panel of experts to address design opportunities in their community. This year each of the towns was impacted by destruction from the 2011 tornados. Urban Studio Director, Cheryl Morgan, has facilitated each of DA’s eight summits. Morgan facilitates the working session using a graphic technique that maps, records and speculates about the issues and opportunities under discussion and debate. Each mayor leaves with a perspective about their design question that is informed by the expertise and resources of the panel and that of their peer group of fellow mayors. This year’s panel was particularly exciting because two of the mayors were first term mayors and under thirty while the other three mayors were experienced long-term leaders of their communities.

Having worked with forty mayors from across the state, DesignAlabama has created a strong cohort of leaders who have a perspective about the impact that can come from design thinking, access to expertise and the array of tools that can be brought to bear in building better communities in Alabama.

This sample of Morgan’s facilitation technique is from a National Mayors’ Institute that the Urban Studio hosted in Birmingham in February 2012 that was also focused on towns that were dealing with natural disasters.