Southwest Heart of the Community Program

Southwest Airlines in partnership with the Project for Public Spaces selected Pershing Square Renew a for the Heart of the Community program, an investment of $200,000 in monetary and technical support. Working in partnership with the Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks and the Pershing Square Park Advisory Board, our team will use these resources to further enliven our square. The program is designed to do this by creating opportunities for people to come together and forge a more socially, culturally, and economically vibrant heart of the city. This community-driven activation process is called placemaking, and it requires participation from people like you!

PSR_SW-1As Designers Prepare to Present Visions, Southwest Airlines “Heart of the Community” Grant Fuels Effort to Re-Imagine Park As Downtown’s Hub of Innovation, Connection

Los Angeles (April 13, 2016) – Today, Pershing Square Renew, Southwest Airlines Co. (NYSE: LUV) and Project for Public Spaces announced a joint initiative that will bring community-based placemaking efforts to Pershing Square, LA’s oldest and most revered public park. Located adjacent to Downtown LA’s Historic Core, Jewelry District, Bunker Hill and Civic Center the park covers an entire city block and hosts farmer’s markets, concerts, and an ice rink. A catalytic grant, valued at $200,000 including monetary and technical support, from the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program will support Pershing Square Renew, a public-private partnership initiated by Councilmember José Huizar, in its work to revitalize this key public space in the heart of Los Angeles. The grant will help bring the new Pershing Square to life now by involving a range of community partners in planning and activation—demonstrating the power of placemaking to connect people and strengthen communities.

The grant comes just days before the four finalists selected in an international design competition will present their long term visions for Pershing Square in a public event at the Downtown Palace Theater on April 28, 2016. For more information on the event, please see

The Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program focuses on placemaking, a movement that is revolutionizing cities around the world by boosting community participation in the creation, design, and unique programming of public spaces. Southwest Airlines believes that public spaces, whether neighborhood parks, small plazas, or downtown squares, are the true hearts of communities, as the places where people gather, connect, and enjoy each other and the cities they live in. The placemaking process highlights the capacity for underperforming spaces to achieve their greatest potential by becoming vibrant, authentic, functional, and well-loved places that will benefit the community socially, culturally, and economically for years to come.

By bringing community members and local organizations together around building a shared vision for the park, Pershing Square Renew will strengthen connections between people and the park. This is a core element of the placemaking approach -- when many voices are included in the transformation of a public space it generates a greater sense of belonging and helps to create a place where everyone feels welcome and comfortable.

“Pershing Square is our city’s best opportunity to demonstrate the power of placemaking as a strategy for empowering our community,” said Eduardo Santana, Executive Director of Pershing Square Renew. “The Heart of the Community grant will help Pershing Square reclaim its rightful place as the city’s favorite gathering place.”

“One of the objectives my office has worked on in a rapidly growing Downtown Los Angeles is increased placemaking as a way to identify and promote our distinct Downtown communities and landmarks,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar. “Southwest Airlines’ support will help us achieve those goals at Pershing Square where we are reimagining and re-envisioning the City’s oldest park so that thousands upon thousands of Angelenos and visitors can rediscover this City of Los Angeles' treasure.”

Pershing Square Renew awarded Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community Grant

Los Angeles is among five communities that are receiving similar grants today selected out of a highly competitive pool of more than 90 applicants, from 60 cities. Each year, Southwest brings placemaking to the cities they serve through the Heart of the Community program, highlighting the importance of “place” and encouraging communities to take part in the creation of the public places they love. For Southwest, placemaking is more than building great destinations, it is about strengthening local communities at their “heart.”

“At Southwest, we connect people to what’s important in their lives,” said Linda Rutherford, Vice President and Chief Communications Officer at Southwest Airlines. “That commitment extends beyond the skies and into the hearts of our communities through our investment in public spaces. We recognize the power public spaces have to transform communities and are excited to support the efforts to reimagine Pershing Square in Los Angeles, a city we’ve been serving for 33 years.”

Pershing Square has seen multiple incarnations, the most recent an overhaul dating back to the early 1990s. In September 2015, Los Angeles City Councilmember José Huizar spurred the creation of Pershing Square Renew, a public-private partnership to overhaul and re-envision the five-acre park that emerged from the Councilmember’s broad vision for a revitalized Downtown LA. To learn more, please see

Through its multi-year partnership with Project for Public Spaces, the nation’s pioneering placemaking organization, Southwest Airlines is leveraging the power of placemaking to spur social, economic, and wellness benefits in communities across the U.S. and abroad. With the addition of the five newly announced grant recipients, the program has supported 18 innovative and transformative projects.

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About Pershing Square Renew
Pershing Square Renew, Inc. is a non-profit public benefit corporation created to drive the re-design of Pershing Square, a five-acre urban park in the heart of Downtown Los Angeles. Bounded by 5th Street to the north, 6th Street to the south, Hill Street to the east, and Olive Street to the west, Pershing Square has been a popular gathering place since 1866. The effort to re-envision historic Pershing Square is led by Councilmember José Huizar, the Department of Recreation and Parks, MacFarlane Partners, and other Downtown leaders. In Sept. 2015, an international design competition was launched. For more information, visit:

About Councilmember José Huizar
Councilmember Huizar is a staunch advocate for the DTLA community, ushering in billions of dollars of investment to the area, creating initiatives like Bringing Back Broadway and DTLA Forward, and partnering with the County to create C-3, which builds off the success of homeless outreach Huizar has led to assist homeless individuals in Skid Row. He helped bring hundreds of acres of open space, new parks and park upgrades to park-poor areas of his district and is one of the City’s leading “Complete Streets” proponents, helping usher in Mobility 2035, DTLA Bikeshare and groundbreaking pedestrian and bike-friendly policies that are seen as the model for the entire City.

About Southwest Airlines Co.
In its 45th year of service, Dallas-based Southwest Airlines (NYSE: LUV) continues to differentiate itself from other air carriers with exemplary Customer Service delivered by more than 49,000 Employees to more than 100 million Customers annually. Southwest proudly operates a network of 97 destinations across the United States and seven additional countries with more than 3,900 departures a day during peak travel season.
Based on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s most recent data, Southwest Airlines is the nation's largest carrier in terms of originating domestic passengers boarded. The Company operates the largest fleet of Boeing aircraft in the world, the majority of which are equipped with satellite-based WiFi providing gate-to-gate connectivity. That connectivity enables Customers to use their personal devices to view video on-demand movies and television shows, as well as more than 20 channels of free, live TV compliments of our valued Partners. Southwest created Transfarency℠, a philosophy which treats Customers honestly and fairly, and in which low fares actually stay low. Southwest is the only major U.S. airline to offer bags fly free® to everyone (first and second checked pieces of luggage, size and weight limits apply, some airlines may allow free checked bags on select routes or for qualified circumstances), and there are no change fees, though fare differences might apply. In 2014, the airline proudly unveiled a bold new look: Heart. The new aircraft livery, airport experience, and logo, showcase the dedication of Southwest Employees to connect Customers with what’s important in their lives.

From its first flights on June 18, 1971, Southwest Airlines launched an era of unprecedented affordability in air travel described by the U.S. Department of Transportation as "The Southwest Effect," a lowering of fares and increase in passenger traffic whenever the carrier enters new markets. With 43 consecutive years of profitability, Southwest is one of the most honored airlines in the world, known for a triple bottom line approach that contributes to the carrier's performance and productivity, the importance of its People and the communities they serve, and an overall commitment to efficiency and the planet. The 2014 Southwest Airlines One Report™ can be found at

Book Southwest Airlines' low fares online at or by phone at 800-I-FLY-SWA.

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About Project for Public Spaces
Project for Public Spaces is a nonprofit planning, design and educational organization dedicated to helping people create and sustain public spaces that build stronger communities. Its pioneering Placemaking approach helps citizens transform their public spaces into vital places that highlight local assets, spur rejuvenation and serve common needs. PPS was founded in 1975 to apply and expand on the work of William (Holly) Whyte, the author of The Social Life of Small Urban Spaces. Since then, the organization has completed projects in over 3000 communities in 43 countries and all 50 US states and are the premier center for best practices, information and resources on Placemaking.


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