October 2, 2017
On August 30, 2017, over 130 ASU students and faculty from multiple disciplines filed into the Apache Junction Multi-Generational Center.
The draw? A kick-off event marking a partnership between ASU’s Project Cities program and the City of Apache Junction – one that plugs students into projects that make Apache Junction a better place to live.
Not only did students get to hear more about these projects from Project Cities and Apache Junction staff, the kick-off event included networking with the Apache Junction mayor, city council, board commissioners and staff – not to mention a bus tour of the city. Breakout sessions allowed students to ask city project leaders questions, learn about community history and brainstorm possible solutions to local challenges.
The conversations were robust, with numerous student hands in the air at any given time. Many students were so inspired, offers for follow-up trips to Apache Junction were enthusiastically embraced.
The Sustainable Cities Network has been involved in facilitating university-community collaborations for several years, working with sustainability classes in the fall and spring to pair them with cities facing specific sustainability challenges. That effort culminated this year with the newly-established Project Cities and its inaugural partner, the City of Apache Junction.
In August, students from six different ASU courses started working on four projects for the City. Those projects include Positively Apache Junction, a marketing and public image campaign for increased community growth and pride; Sustainability and Solid Waste, a project addressing compliance, health hazards and citizen’s perceptions of waste; Off-Leash Dog Park Site Analysis, an investigation of dog park locations; and Understanding Homelessness, an exploration into solutions to and the drivers of homelessness.
What’s next for this collaboration? ASU students and faculty will begin in-depth project research, including meetings with stakeholders and further interaction with the Apache Junction community. At the end of the Fall 2017 semester, they will propose solutions and recommendations to the city through designs, reports and presentations to staff, stakeholders and peers.
If the energy at the kick-off event is an accurate indicator, many innovative ideas will be conceived, shared and translated into avenues of progress for the City of Apache Junction in the months to come.