Sustainable City Year program to partner with city of Redmond

The Sustainable City Year Program is moving to Central Oregon after selecting Redmond for the 2015-16 academic year.

University of Oregon students will work on more than 20 projects with the city of Redmond during the year. The partnership will kick off in April, when students from a bicycle transportation planning course tour the city to research existing infrastructure.

“The UO’s Sustainable Cities program has become an international example for a comprehensive outreach-research-learning model,” said Frances Bronet, the UO’s acting senior vice president and provost. “In addition to helping cities become more sustainable and livable, our students — critically engaged citizen-scholars — are solving real-life problems and working alongside experts in their fields.

The Sustainable Cities Initiative is a cross-disciplinary organization at the University of Oregon that promotes education, service, public outreach and research on the design and development of sustainable cities. The Sustainable City Year program has been adapted by almost 20 American universities and in several other countries.

"Redmond will be our first SCYP city east of the Cascades and we are thrilled about the partnership,” said Marc Schlossberg, SCI co-director. “Redmond's application made it clear that they are interested in sustainability from a wide variety of perspectives and city functions and that they have put together a broad team of community partners for us to engage with. It is clear that Redmond is serious about moving the dial on sustainability and we are developing an impressive list of projects with them. It is going to be a great year."

Now in its sixth year, the Sustainable City Year program links UO students with an Oregon city, county, special district or partnership of governments for an entire academic year. Each year, the SCYP partner receives assistance with projects centered on sustainability through the work of student classes across the university.

In a typical year, more than 400 students from 12 disciplines across 30 classes work on 20 partner-directed projects. At the end of the year, more than 40,000 student hours of work will be devoted to helping a local entity transition to a more sustainable future.

“Based on the past partnerships with Medford, Springfield, Salem and Gresham, we are confident that this year of partnership will provide meaningful opportunities for students while helping Redmond move its own sustainability interests forward successfully,” said Nico Larco, SCI co-director.

Some of the projects students will work on include: downtown revitalization, improvement of the south Highway 97 corridor, creating street tree programs, developing design and landscaping plans for the Redmond Airport and establishing a Cascadia emergency preparedness plan.

"We are excited by the tools and resources the SCYP partnership brings to the community of Redmond,” said Keith Witcosky, Redmond’s city manager. “It creates an important east-west geographic bridge across Oregon and does so in a way that saves the city hundreds of thousands dollars if we were going to secure similar services through private consultants."

The Sustainable City Year program will get a head start in Redmond when students from Schlossberg’s bicycle transportation planning course visit the city to research existing bicycle infrastructure. The students will visit on April 8 and be led on a tour of Redmond by city staff.

“This SCYP partnership helps us kick-start initiatives that are critical to our growing community,” Witcosky said. “More importantly, it allows us to harness the intellectual capital inherent in a campus of more than 20,000 students and teachers. Redmond's projects will reflect new ideas, fresh perspectives and gain renewed energy."   

Redmond — often referred to as “the hub” — is a small town with big ideas. Follow along with the Sustainable City Year with #SmallTownBigIdeas on social media.

—By Heidi Hiaasen, Public Affairs Communications