Small Towns Initiative
What is STDI?
The Small Town Design Initiative (STDI) is a “go-to” resource for Michigan’s small communities for physical environmental design assistance in community development and land use. Within the arena of environmental design, MSU-Extension, MSU-Outreach, the College of Social Science, and the Landscape Architecture Program have jointly developed the Small Town Design Initiative (STDI) to address environmental challenges and improve the quality of life in Michigan’s small towns. The Small Town Design Initiative is being provided by MSU‘s Landscape Architecture Program. Faculty of this professional program have significant experience in working with small towns and their environmental design issues and opportunities.
The objectives of the STDI are:
- Work with communities to develop environmental design ideas for local issues and opportunities.
- Consensus building.
- Idea generation.
- Attack a challenging environmental concern.
- Act as a bridge between communities and consulting design professionals.
- Provide for in-community student learning. Creative and scholarly work outlet.
We seek projects relating to the imaging/visioning umbrella of physical environmental design. Examples could include downtown streetscapes, parks, bikeways and trails, open space systems, industrial/commercial development, beautification, land use, signs, agricultural land preservation, ecosystem management, and residential development.
Who Qualifies for STDI Services
Small Town Design Initiatve assistance is primarily available to Michigan communities ranging in population from 500 to 15,000.
Political jurisdictions that fall within the population range can make application for STDI assistance. This may include townships and charter townships and well as municipalities. Not-for-profit organizations and local citizen groups are also eligible as long as their service region falls within the population range.
What to Expect
Each project will be completed as an individual effort by the STDI. A team will be assembled, as appropriate, to properly address the project needs. Size, timing, and complexity of the project will determine how and who it is assigned to the project by the STDI.
The energy, creative thinking, and innovation of students, faculty, and professional at Michigan State University will all be brought into focus to assist Michigan’s small towns in developing a vision and direction, build consensus, and create physical images of environmental design projects. This process, and resulting products, provides the community with a clearer definiton of the problem and potential solutions. The natural, and intended follow through is for the community to engage professional design consultants who will further evolve the ideas, and prepare the technical studies, plans, drawings, and specifications that turn the project ideas into reality.
For more information, please download our brochure.
What is Required
Communities wishing to receive Small Town Design Initiative assistance must complete an application package. Applications will be evaluated by the STDI. Evaluation criteria include: project meets STDI goals, community meets the small town population range and political jurisdiction/not-for-profit/local citizen group standing, broad-based community involvement and support, clear community objectives, quality of base materials (maps, data, etc.), and financial commitment. If appropriate, applicant communities will be contacted by the STDI to further review their application. In some cases a community visit will be necessary with the STDI.
Complete applications are due March 15th and September 15th. Projects will be approved by May 15th and November 15th, respectively.
How to Apply
- Download and print the PDF Document and follow the instructions given in the application.
- Mail the completed application to the given address in the STDI application.
Please feel free to contact the STDI or your MSU-Extension County Director for more information or if you have any questions.
Warren J. Rauhe, ASLA
Director, Small Town/Community Design Initiatives
School of Planning, Design and Construction
Michigan State University
Human Ecology Building
552 W. Circle Drive, Room 101
East Lansing, MI 48824-1030