About three years ago, we started on a journey in the Community Outreach Department at Southwest, speaking with our Employees and our Leaders about what mattered to them and where they thought Southwest Airlines could make the most difference in people’s lives and where they’d like to see Southwest lead as a corporate citizen. What rose to the top from those interviews was the idea of Community, making a difference in our neighborhoods and helping making connections. We believe that public places—such as neighborhood parks, community gardens, and downtown squares—are truly the heart of the local communities where our People call home and where our Customers love to visit. As a result, the idea of supporting and revitalizing public spaces is one that spoke to the heart of who we are.
The next step was figuring out how to do that in a way that made sense to Southwest. And we found it with Project for Public Spaces, the pioneering nonprofit behind Placemaking. Behind great public places around the world is a quiet, 30-year movement called Placemaking, which breathes new life into neighborhoods by reimagining public spaces around the needs and desires of the local community and strengthening connections between people and the places they share. At Southwest, we have always put People first in the decisions we make about our business. And what attracts us to Placemaking is that it, too, puts People first – only in the process of designing and improving public spaces.
On Monday, our three-year journey came to life in Travis Park in San Antonio when Gary announced a multi-year commitment to Placemaking through the Southwest Airlines Heart of the Community program, where we will revitalize and activate public spaces. Through the Heart of the Community program, we will work with PPS and collaborate with local community partners in cities across the country to bring new life to their public spaces. We were in Travis Park to unveil our third pilot project where we gave a grant to provide amenities and programming in the historic Park; more than 40 Employees were on hand to volunteer with opening-day festivities such as yoga and Zumba classes, games, the dog park, and many other programming opportunities. Our other two pilot projects were in 2013 in Detroit and Providence.
I think Gary said it best when he said “our Purpose is to connect People to what’s important in their lives through friendly, reliable, and low-cost air travel. Often, the important moments that happen during those connections include a special place—somewhere that has meaning, that brings people together, that creates a sense of belonging and a sense of community.” That is what Southwest is all about.
We look forward to supporting the communities we serve throughout the United States and in our new international destinations with projects that help create these public places that are at the heart of the community. To learn more about the Heart of the Community program and PPS, visit www.pps.org/heart-of-the-community. #PlacesWeLUV