Heart of the Community
In April 2016, Central Atlanta Progress (CAP), Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV), and Project for Public Spaces announced a joint effort to maximize Woodruff Park’s unique potential to become a popular and exciting Downtown gathering place. A catalytic grant from the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program, valued at $200,000 including monetary and technical support, enabled Central Atlanta Progress to implement its plan to improve perceptions, increase park usage, and enliven this key public space in the “heart” of Downtown Atlanta with the help of the people who work, study, live in, and care about Downtown.
With guidance from Project for Public Spaces throughout the placemaking process, CAP engaged park stakeholders—from Downtown residents, students and office workers to neighboring businesses and the local government—to build consensus for improvement priorities. Together, stakeholders reached the conclusion that the southwest end of the park stood to benefit from a reimagining.
Thanks to the support of Southwest Airlines, this section of the park now includes movable tables, chairs and umbrellas, planters, and updated landscaping, all of which align with the park’s new logo and visual identity system developed by local firm My Friend’s Nephew.
The Atlanta Downtown Improvement District also provided additional staffing support to maintain the park’s day to day operations and programming by hiring Ansley Whipple, the Woodruff Park Project Manager, this spring. Since coming aboard, Whipple has revitalized the park’s free community programs and community partnerships, from the Summer in Woodruff series to the popular Solar Eclipse Party co-hosted with the Atlanta-Fulton Public Library System.
The focal point of park improvements is the Woodruff Park Game Cart, a brightly-colored mobile activity kiosk filled with recreational supplies, from chess sets and board games to whiffle ball and Frisbees. Park staff, recreation interns, and local volunteers maintain the Game Cart’s inventory and assist park visitors with checking out supplies to be used in the gaming area on the gazebo or on the park’s main lawn.
2018 – HOTC Phase II
In 2018, the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community grant was made available to previous recipients between 2013 – 2016 to support the ongoing evolution and sustainability of their public spaces. Through the Southwest Airlines Foundation, an advised fund of Silicon Valley Community Foundation, each grantee received $100,000 in initial project funding, as well as an opportunity for a $25,000 dollar-for-dollar fundraising match.
Woodruff Park was awarded an additional grant to support its efforts to engage and attract a new, more targeted audience to Woodruff Park, as well as better meet the needs of current users from underserved communities. In order to attract younger park users, ADID plans to work with Spark Corps, a local design firm focused on social impact, to engage students from Cristo Rey High School, The New School, and Georgia State University in co-design activities. Additionally, ADID seeks to hire a social worker who will connect park visitors in need to social services and teach students about empathy and homelessness in Downtown Atlanta.