Small Town Sustainability and Rural Resiliency Initiative

A Sustainable Growth Program-led research and outreach effort to provide our smallest communities with the tools for an economically resilient and sustainable future


Small towns are the heart of the South. In all of our program areas, the Georgia Conservancy strives to see that they remain so. The Small Town Sustainability and Rural Resiliency Initiative amplifies the Georgia Conservancy's understanding of the importance that private land conservation, sustainable growth planning, recreation and eco-tourism play in small communities.

It is an ongoing research and outreach initiative that looks at the dozens of tiny, rural towns scattered across Georgia – once largely sustained by agriculture or industry – for answers on how they may be transformed to have a new life and a new economic purpose in the larger American landscape.

The ongoing goal of this project is to look more deeply at small towns in Georgia and identify what revitalization efforts have been successful in small towns, why they have been successful, and how they can be applied more broadly to aid other struggling rural communities.

Learn more from our article “Why Small Towns Matter”



Mayors Clinics

Designed for Georgia mayors, city council members, city managers or other decision-makers tasked with planning and development, our Mayors Clinics place emphasis on assisting under-served communities that have limited planning staff resources.

Through the Mayors Clinics, we encourage a focus on greenspace, accessibility and natural resources with the goal of expanding the knowledge of the most critical design components that make communities healthier, more resource efficient and more economically viable.



The Georgia Conservancy's Small Town Sustainability and Rural Resiliency Initiative evolved from “Bantam Towns of Georgia: Small Town Revitalization and Economic Development,” researched and written by R. Dawn Riley as her 2014 dual Master’s thesis in Georgia Tech’s Schools of Architecture and City and Regional Planning. With the support of the Georgia Conservancy, the guidance of Georgia Tech professors, and the expertise of city planners and regional historians, Riley looked at what proximity, economic assets, and formal characteristics are necessary for small towns in Georgia to successfully revitalize their communities and economies. Additionally, the research presents a means of analyzing the assets of small towns in order to determine where outside investment is most likely to make a difference, and how resources can best be utilized. 


The Small Town Sustainability and Rural Resiliency Initiative is a part of the Georgia Conservancy's Sustainable Growth Program.

For more information on our Small Town Sustainability and Rural Resiliency Initiative or to inquire about our Georgia Mayors Clinics, please contact Georgia Conservancy VP of Programs and Sustainable Growth Director Katherine Moore at or Georgia Conservancy Senior Planner Nick Johnson at