Connections – that’s how we’ll rebuild communities

By: Megan Lee | October 4, 2016

Join Southwest at the 2016 Net Impact Conference
Join Southwest at the 2016 Net Impact Conference

At the 2016 Net Impact Conference, Southwest will be tackling the issue of community fragmentation, and you can help support them. Engage with Southwest leaders and community resilience experts, take a walking tour of Philadelphia, and explore ways to make communities stronger at NI16.  Megan Lee is the Sr. Manager Community Programs and Engagement at Southwest Airlines.

It’s hard to believe that it’s almost time for #NI16! It feels like we were just getting ready for last year’s conference in Seattle … yet we’ll be packing our bags for Philadelphia soon.

In the past year, we’ve been busy– after awarding 6 Heart of the Community grants in April, we have now supported 18 placemaking projects in cities where we fly, bringing our unique “open seating policy” to public spaces. Instead of simply connecting people to places, we are connecting people to people – building community in the places we fly across the country.

Making connections across the skies – and right in your backyard

Beach in DetroitFrom putting a beach in the middle of downtown Detroit to bringing some much-needed color to a gray concrete plaza in Albuquerque, we’re proud of the work that we’ve done. We’ve brightened dark spaces, supported diverse programming for diverse neighborhoods, and created inclusion in public spaces that otherwise felt isolated. 

But across the country, there continues to be a decline in community participation and in gatherings with neighbors. When we don’t even know our neighbors' names, how can we work together? How do we begin to solve the complex issues that face us? How can we respond in a state of emergency? How can we ensure our cities are welcoming for visitors and for future generations?

Connections are the key to a healthy society. Resilient communities – those which are nimble, collaborative, and well connected – are the ones that thrive through turbulent times. In resilient communities, local residents have a sense of ownership in the place they call home and feel compelled to work with others, creating even stronger connections.

To make a difference, we all have a role to play. 

Here’s where you come in

So, how can we tackle the issue of community fragmentation? At this year’s Net Impact Conference, we’ll be partnering with our friends from Project for Public Spaces for a two-part interactive workshop to explore these topics.

  • On Saturday morning November 5, join us for a walking tour of downtown Philadelphia, culminating in a visit to a Heart of the Community project site at City Hall, where we will discuss the work that is underway and the local issues we are addressing. 
  • Later that day, we’ll dive into an interactive workshop and dialogue, focusing on themes from the tour and identifying strategies to bring people together. 

Whether you’re building a career in urban planning or are passionate about strengthening your own city, you will leave with ways to make local communities stronger and more resilient.

We are looking for 24 dedicated individuals to sign up for this two-part tour and workshop – an exclusive opportunity to work closely with Southwest leaders and experts in community resilience. 

To join us, think about how you would work to build connections in your community and apply here by October 17!

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Megan Lee