Sustainable Cities kicks off 2015 year

October 14, 2015

The 2015-16 Sustainable Cities Year Program (SCYP) with the City of Redmond officially kicked off with a gala celebration at the UO’s Ford Alumni Center October 1. During the yearlong partnership between UO and Redmond, hundreds of students and faculty members will pour 50,000 hours of work into applied projects with sustainability-focused solutions. 

“This program exemplifies our mission as a public research university to create innovation and discovery, teach society’s future leaders, and serve our communities,” UO President Michael Schill told the gathering. “Sustainability [requires] a combination of innovative research, an interdisciplinary approach to the problem, and mechanisms to accelerate the deployment of research into practice.”

Redmond Mayor George Endicott and UO President Michael Schill discuss SCYP projects
Redmond Mayor George Endicott and UO President Michael Schill discuss SCYP projects for Redmond during the SCYP 2015-16 kickoff celebration in the Ford Alumni Center. All photos by Jack Liu.

The collaboration among SCYP partners is both wide-ranging and deeply advantageous to all involved, Schill noted.

“Students benefit by receiving a rich, experiential educational experience. The communities we work with benefit from our considerable knowledge and experience,” he said.  “And our university benefits—as we grow our interdisciplinary approach, help other universities adopt our model, and seek to hire additional faculty to grow similar collaborative programs through our cluster of excellent hiring, we build our reputation as a world-class institution.” 

The Sustainable Cities Year Program was developed by the University of Oregon in 2009 and has been adopted and adapted by more than 25 other universities throughout the US and internationally. In 2014, several of these universities formed the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network (EPIC-N). This partnership continues to enhance the innovative “Oregon Model” and help universities across the country address sustainability practices while educating and training the next generation.

“SCYP fires on all cylinders,” said A&AA Interim Dean Brook Muller. “It helps students realize they have something important to contribute by enabling them to work on real world problems with real world constituencies; it affords opportunities for faculty to align their teaching, research and community outreach efforts, such that they can make a greater impact; and lastly and yet incredibly importantly, it ignites civic discourse about a city's future and furnishes practical steps toward achieving important sustainability goals. It is this compounding of benefits that makes SCYP unique and so highly transformative, and one of the reasons this model is being adopted by universities throughout the nation.”

In his remarks, Schill noted that SCYP “is the type of leadership and innovation that supports our primary goals of academic excellence and enhanced access and experience for students. It supports both our mission and moral imperative to be at the forefront of knowledge creation and see to it that knowledge gets put into practice to improve some of society’s most pressing problems.”

Other featured speakers at the kickoff included UO Vice President and Provost Scott Coltrane, and Redmond Mayor George Endicott. US Senator Jeff Merkley’s Field Representative Dan Whelan attended, and US representative Peter DeFazio appeared via video recording.  

Fall term classes involving the Sustainable Cities Year Program and A&AA students and faculty members include:

•  Redmond Neighborhood Revitalization Plan. This project will analyze an area that is part of the 1928 City Center plat and contains the Frank Redmond home site. This area, with its strong historical context, provides varied opportunities to explore, evaluate, and recommend planning attributes needed to address Redmond’s adopted Great Neighborhood Planning Principles (GNPP). The end result should provide a design template that can be used to evaluate and recommend missing GNPP components for other areas of the community as well as suggest new design concepts for the area. Faculty members for this project include Assistant Professor Gerardo Sandoval, Professor Rich Margerum, and Instructor Bob Parker, all from the Department of Planning, Public Policy and Management (PPPM).

• South US 97 Corridor Improvement Project. US 97 is the main north-south transportation corridor on the east side of the Cascade Range. The City is interested in revitalizing the area by improving the aesthetics and economics of the area, and has been working with ODOT for the past four years on a design for a reconstructed corridor. In 2014, the City and ODOT began partnering on a $1.2 million design effort to “proof-test” a draft design. The related SCYP project will team students with consultants to work on design and development standards for the property frontage that would supplement the transportation facility design. This will be a complex project with significant public involvement and collaboration between the City of Redmond, ODOT, and the impacted property and business owners. Faculty members include Department of Landscape Architecture Professor Rob Ribe and Adjunct Instructor Jeff Krueger.

• Business EID and RAPRD Tax Valuation. This project entails surveying downtown Redmond for the viability of an Economic Improvement District and/or Business Improvement District as a funding tool to support annual operations of a Main Street organization. Considerations will include the district boundaries, assessment formula, budget, and programs. This class will be taught by PPPM Assistant Professor Rebecca Lewis.

This is the first year SCYP has partnered with a city east of the Cascade mountains. Past SCYP partners are the cities of Gresham, Salem, Springfield, and Medford.

Redmond Mayor George Endicott and Redmond Community Development Director Heather Richards
Above: Redmond Mayor George Endicott and Redmond Community Development Director Heather Richards review information about past SCYP projects. 

SCYP Program Manager Megan Banks and Assistant Professor Gerardo Sandoval
Above: SCYP Program Manager Megan Banks listens as Assistant Professor Gerardo Sandoval outlines his SCYP projects for 2015-16.

Students listen to Redmond City Council member Anne Graham
Above: Students listen as Redmond City Council member Anne Graham discusses projects students will be undertaking in Redmond.