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Design Allies launches effort to spark community participation


Design Allies is a new initiative created to ignite citizen engagement and advocacy for their neighborhoods, city, and region.

Design Allies, one of three core programs of the Design Center (formerly the Community Design Center of Pittsburgh), advocates for design, planning and public policy leading to strong, sustainable communities. The goal is to encourage thoughtful public discussion from a robust and inclusive group of constituents.

Seeing civic engagement as the road to good planning and design, Design Allies will promote public dialogue through new media such as Facebook, Twitter, and blogs, as well as guest lectures, film screenings, community meetings, and design workshops.

"It's about making people more aware and getting them involved in issues that affect all of us, everyday," said Stephen A. Glassman, president and CEO of the Design Center.

Design Allies sees social media as a hub where residents can find information on local lectures and meetings, read relevant news articles and opinion pieces, and access resources on best practices in urban planning.

But it's not a one way street. Design Allies has developed a Facebook application that will help it survey residents and track their interests on issues such as blight, preservation, transportation and green spaces, among others. City residents also can sign up to receive email or text alerts about relevant public meetings and other events.

As a group seeking to increase public awareness of planning and design, Design Allies is modeled on Philadelphia's Design Advocacy Group and Charlotte's Civic By Design. Design Allies hopes to create a culture of design excellence in Pittsburgh similar to that found in cities such as Minneapolis, MN, Portland, OR, and Vancouver, BC.

Anyone interested in their community—including individuals, government, nonprofits, and businesses—can engage with Design Allies. The Design Center is reaching out to other organizations as well as design professionals to participate in the Design Allies effort. Organizations range from Leadership Pittsburgh and the Local Government Academy to the Hill House Association and Vibrant Pittsburgh.

Design Allies is a program of the Design Center, a nonprofit organization that advocates for the value of good design, planning, and public policy in support of more livable and sustainable communities in the Pittsburgh region. For more information, visit


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