Southwest to help retool public places

Written By Sun-Times Wire Posted: 04/03/2014, 12:47pm

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Southwest Airlines, which built its company around a down-home image, wants to help U.S. cities retool public spaces.

Southwest on Thursday announced a multi-year commitment to its Heart of the Community program with Project for Public Spaces, a nonprofit behind efforts to reimagine public spaces in communities nationwide.

The partners hope to help with dozens of “placemaking” projects this year after completing pilot projects last year in Detroit, Mich., and Providence, R.I.

The idea of placemaking is to support community-based efforts with planning, design and management needed to create destinations such as neighborhood parks, community markets and downtown squares.

“At Southwest, our purpose is to help connect people to what’s most important in their lives, and often, the important moments that happen during those connections include a special place—somewhere that has meaning, that brings people together, that creates a sense of belonging and a sense of community,” Southwest chairman, president and CEO Gary Kelly said. “We recognize the power public spaces have to strengthen communities, so we are proud to support these placemaking efforts.”

FORTUNE: Southwest Airlines’ new cause: ‘Placemaking’