Application window opens for inaugural Tommy Pacello Placemaking Fellowship

What’s happening: The application window for the inaugural Tommy Pacello Placemaking Fellowship has opened, and Memphians with ideas for inspired community development projects have until Monday, July 31, to apply. More than $50,000 has been raised to support the fellowship in its launch, and while exact amounts awarded may vary, organizers expect the cash prizes to range from $5,000 to $10,000.

Background: When Tommy Pacello passed away from complications from pancreatic cancer in November 2020, his death sent shockwaves throughout Memphis. At just 43 years old, the late city planner and civic leader accomplished a lot in his short time here, with tributes pouring in from the Memphis Business Journal, Commercial Appeal, Daily Memphian, and elsewhere. Congressman Steve Cohen even honored Pacello’s legacy with an address to the U.S. House of Representatives. President of the Memphis Medical District Collaborative, Pacello is credited with making the district a more walkable place, and ushered in 36 new businesses in the Medical District in just six years’ time.

[Related: Read our 2016 profile, “Innovator of the Week: Tommy Pacello”, on High Ground News.]

What it is: The Tommy Pacello Placemaking Fellowship fund will award cash prizes to individuals and teams working on design projects and public realm improvements throughout the city. Recipients will also receive technical assistance and professional guidance in the sectors of law, project design and management, communications and stakeholder engagement, and fundraising. Awards will vary by size and number as determined by the committee, which consists of Pacello’s friends and colleagues.

Why it matters: “Tommy inspired everyone around him,” Strong Towns President Charles Marohn tells the Strong Towns journal. “Where I might be inclined to think a block or a neighborhood in Memphis had little hope, he would show me the endless possibilities that were there. And then, his passion would ultimately make me and everyone around him believe in that possibility, too. He wasn’t blind to the struggles of Memphis, but he cared deeply for it. And he sacrificed a lot of himself so people he would never meet would have a better future there. Tommy was a true hero. He is deeply missed.”

Visit the Tommy Pacello website, fundraising page, and application site to learn more about the Tommy Pacello Placemaking Fellowship and its application process.
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