Towns, villages, and neighborhoods in Alabama, and across America, face an uncertain future — a future which is increasingly threatened by large scale change to economies, relocations by the population, telecommunication needs, housing shortages, public health challenges, a changing environment, the distribution of goods, and changes in land policy.

In the face of these forces, communities struggle to maintain their vitality and even their sense of identity. Whether the threat is sudden growth or stagnation, planning and design decisions can often make the difference between survival and decay, between healthy prosperity and decline. Despite the crucial importance of planning and design, small communities rarely have good access to professional assistance and information on the application of planning and design to their communities’ issues.

The Your Town Alabama program is a first step in meeting these needs. The workshop format is an intensive engagement of citizen leaders and professionals. Our time together is intended to be highly participatory with lectures, case study presentations, and interactive group problem solving, including work on realistic issues in a hypothetical small town. The goal is to provide advanced leadership skills supported by information and planning tools that can be taken home to all corners of our state and applied to the process of designing our future!

The decisions
we make today
directly determine
the legacy we
leave tomorrow.

The decisions
we make today
directly determine
the legacy we
leave tomorrow.

There are two types of change, planned and unplanned. Since it’s inevitable, wouldn’t you rather have the former?

There are two types of change, planned and unplanned. Since it’s inevitable, wouldn’t you rather have the former?

Our Mission

Your Town Alabama inspires and educates Alabamians to use asset-based design for setting and achieving community goals.


The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Faculty of Landscape Architecture at the State University of New York (SUNY) at Syracuse developed a prototypical workshop curriculum for the NEA – Design Arts Program.


The NEA expanded the program and created five Regional YourTown Centers to act as hosts for annual regional workshops and serve as clearinghouses for design information and technical assistance.


The program has received national awards for design communication and public education from the American Society of Landscape Architects and the American Planning Association.


Alabama’s first Your Town workshop was held as a result of the efforts of an ad hoc “Alabama Your- Town Steering Committee” convened by Paul Kennedy of the Cawaco Resource Conservation & Development Council in partnership with the National Endowment for the Arts’ YourTown Program.


The success of the first workshop led to a second workshop and to the creation of YourTown Alabama, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing asset-based planning and support to Alabama’s mid- and small communities.


A series of youth workshops were held as outreach to a younger population of potential designers and planners


Your Town celebrated 20 years of workshops with a reunion that gathered hundreds of past participants to share stories of success and chart the future of the organization

Your Town Alabama


Matt Leavell, AIA LEED AP, Chairman

Ben Wieseman, Vice-Chairman

Katie Conner, Secretary / Treasurer
AL Association of RC&D Councils, Inc.


Brandon Bias
Goodwyn Mills & Cawood

Jim Byard, Jr.
Byard and Associates, Inc

Robert Finkel
Auburn University, School of InDustrial & Graphic Design

Jason Fondren
KPS Group, Inc.

Drew Gilbert
Tallulah Brewing Co.

Mary Jackson
Alabama League of Municipalities

Debra Love
E3 Solutions

Lea Ann Macknally, (ExCom)
Macknally Land Design

Larry Mason
Community Member

Justin Miller
Auburn University, School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape Architecture

Collier Neeley (ExCom)
Landmarks Foundation of montgomery

Nigel Roberts
Jefferson County

Phil Segraves
Mayor, City of Guin

Jenny Brown Short
Community Member

Rip Weaver
Aldridge Gardens

Mary Helmer Wirth
Main Street Alabama


Paul Kennedy
Walker Area Community Foundation

Mary Shell
U.S. National Park Service

Randy Shoults