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Call for projects: Project Cities seeks solutions-focused class projects

July 15, 2020

Cities and towns face unprecedented challenges, even moreso now during to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unique issues local government agencies deal with demand a research-backed, multidisciplinary response. Leverage your classroom activity to add a meaningful applied learning experience for students that also makes a difference for local communities.

ASU's Project Cities manages contracts and relationships with city partners, facilitates site visits with stakeholders, offers a small budget and technology resources, and publishes project summary reports. Learn more and see the current project topic list.

Planned and continuing municipal sustainability projects incorporate some component of sustainability; economic, social, environmental, or a combination of the three. Many span multiple semesters and groups of students, allowing projects to take on big-picture, multi-disciplinary challenges. In addition, community partners seek assistance on applied projects centered around COVID-19, that examine local responses to the pandemic.

Project Cities' community partners will consider all ideas. Pitch projects via email to projectcities@asu.edu.

Virtual showcase recap, spring 2020

May 21, 2020

On April 29, 2020, ASU Project Cities hosted our first-ever entirely virtual Student Showcase for the Spring 2020 semester. Over one hundred attendees appeared on Zoom throughout the day to learn from this semester’s students and discuss their research findings. The event featured multiple virtual “rooms,” including the main stage presentations and their project findings and breakout Q&A sessions. A virtual “lobby” also remained open throughout the day for tech support, a reception, and networking.

The online showcase featured a mix of 74 graduate and undergraduate ASU students with diverse backgrounds and educational interests. This semester, students partnered with two communities: the City of Peoria, and the Town of Clarkdale on six projects. A video recording of the event is available online here.

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What makes a virtual showcase?

April 23, 2020

Our "News" feed is a great way to see how we've celebrated the students in Project Cities' showcase events in the past. This semester we're hosting our first-ever fully virtual showcase event, and we've received a few questions about how we're making the event special while practicing social distancing. Click "read more" to learn what you can expect at this semester's showcase event and catch previews of the project topics.

Event Details:

April 29, 8:30am - 2:30pm

Pre-register for the link to virtual event space

links.asu.edu/PCShowcase_RSVP

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New summary report released: Aboveground storage tank management

April 17, 2020

The City of Glendale manages approximately 135 Aboveground Storage Tanks (ASTs). ASTs are necessary components for storing valuable chemical agents for a variety of uses, from water treatment to backup power generation. ASTs must be appropriately maintained to ensure citizen and employee safety, and while there are existing standards and regulations, Glendale experts describe a lack of cohesive standards in the industry. Students in Albert Brown’s ERM 401/501 and EGR 427: Hazardous Waste Management spent their Spring 2019 semester researching AST regulations and standards with the goals of identifying AST best management practices and developing an efficient and effective operations and maintenance program for Glendale to consider applying to their ASTs.

This summary report is unique, as it represents the combined effort of a hybrid, multi-campus course format that brought together ASU students from the Tempe campus, Polytechnic campus, as well as online students simultaneously in a quasi-virtual learning environment. To conduct their research, students attended workshops, conducted site visits, performed literature reviews, and held stakeholder interviews with Glendale representatives. Analysis of the gathered information led to a robust list of both specific and generalizable recommendations, aimed at ensuring maximum safety levels for Glendale’s ASTs and the city staff maintaining them.

All the students’ hard work is now available online. Read the full summary report here.

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Summary of award-winning report released

March 26, 2020

About the project

The City of Apache Junction (the City) has over one hundred mobile home and recreational vehicle parks and subdivisions within its city limits. Many of these parks were built in the 1950s, before the city was officially incorporated, and thus pre-date city code. As a result, many of the parks are now relatively outdated, and in some cases, have significant code violations that pose a safety and health risk to residents. Although the parks are an affordable option for low-income residents, they can be perceived as detrimental to the city’s image, as conditions and amenities can vary significantly from one place to another. Arizona State University’s master capstone student, Maggie Dellow, saw the need to establish a clear path forward for the out-of-code parks, without reducing affordable housing stock in the city. Her recommendations included solutions to define minimum standards and processes that would both allow for economic redevelopment and prevent low-income residents from losing access to housing. The work was recognized by the Arizona Planning Association for Arizona's Best Student Project Award, 2019. The work also received fourth place in the nation for Best Student Project, 2019 at the American Planning Association.

Read the full summary report here.

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Faculty Virtual Open House: ASU Project Cities

March 10, 2020

Register by March 29 to attend the Project Cities Faculty Open House on Thursday, April 9th from 2 to 4 pm. New faculty are needed to support this innovative program with real-world impact!

Project Cities is a unique, ASU-community partnership that connects students and faculty in project-based classes to local community partners, with the goal of advancing the communities' sustainability goals. Attendees will be the first to choose projects with the community partners.

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Peoria kicks off spring semester at City Hall

February 7, 2020

On February 5th, 2020 ASU students, faculty, and city staff met at Peoria City Hall for the spring 2020 kickoff event with Project Cities. In the Council Chambers, Erick Strunk, Deputy City Manager, opened the occasion with a warm welcome and stressed the great value the students’ work promises to bring the city. Jay Davies, Chief of Staff at the City Manager’s office, took over from there, with his memorable Peoria Trivia game, full of unique and unexpected factoids about the area, and questions to test the students on their knowledge of the city’s population, demographics, urban development plans and more. Right as the students were getting ready for group photos, City Manager, Jeff Tyne made a surprise appearance to introduce himself briefly, and thank the students personally for their hard work.

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Clarkdale kick-off event sets the tone for a promising semester

February 3, 2020

Early Friday morning on January 31, 2020, 17 sleepy masters students in PUP 580: Planning Workshop, disembarked from a large gray charter bus to Clarkdale, Arizona. After two hours on the road, the ASU students, with their professors Meagan Ehlenz and Kim Kanuho, headed into the Old Memorial Clubhouse to meet with town leadership for the spring semester Project Cities kick-off. Project Cities’ kickoff events offer an initial opportunity for students and faculty to interact with town staff, set the tone for the semester, and get everyone started off on the right foot. Sipping coffee in the cool, crisp air, the students were eager to gain additional information and perspective for their developing projects. This spring, these students will work with Clarkdale to develop downtown revitalization plans focused on their historic business district and the 89A commercial corridor.

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Project Cities puts student talent on the map

ASU Now | January 14, 2020

Person presenting for project citiesThe city of Apache Junction, Arizona has a complicated relationship with the 125 mobile home and RV parks within its city limits. Some of the parks are well managed and provide an attractive, affordable option for low income residents. But many are deteriorating, unsightly and do not conform to contemporary city codes, presenting a detriment to Apache Junction’s image as it works to attract visitors and boost economic growth.

In an effort to address this, the city partnered with the new-at-the-time Arizona State University program Project Cities, a program launched in 2017 to “connect higher education with local communities, creating a powerful combination of knowledge and know-how.” Apache Junction was the inaugural community partner during the 2017–18 academic year and renewed its partnership through the spring 2019 semester.

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Spring 2020 projects preview

January 10, 2020

Visionary Springtime Projects

Project Cities is proud to kick off a total of five projects with the City of Peoria and the Town of Clarkdale for the spring 2020 semester. Through the Project Cities program, Arizona State University students collaborate with neighboring cities to investigate sustainability challenges in the area and tackle challenging research questions in order to recommend solutions that the city can implement. This applied, project-based learning approach reinforces classroom lessons while also empowering students to give back to the community. This semester’s projects include a water resource management plan, a transit circulator improvement plan, a feasibility assessment of recreation corridor improvement proposals, a sustainability review and a downtown revitalization strategy.

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Another successful semester concludes with Project Cities Student Showcase

December 9, 2019

Project Cities Student ShowcaseOur Fall 2019 semester boasted a robust mix of 7 projects with nine classes of Arizona State University students. The Project Cities (PC) program connects students and faculty from the university with Arizona municipalities to collaborate on developing potential solutions to local sustainability challenges the communities face. This semester, students partnered with three communities: the City of Glendale, City of Peoria, and Town of Clarkdale on seven projects with the help of 150 students across 10 classes.

This semester’s showcase featured the following projects:

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Apache Junction uses Project Cities students’ recommendations for waste management

December 5, 2019

The Project Cities-Apache Junction partnership hit a new milestone in December 2019: For the second time in the two-year partnership, an applied project has seen formal implementation by the city.

An Innovative New Partnership Model

Throughout the course of the collaboration, the Apache Junction partnership worked with 13 unique classes and 213 ASU students from a variety of disciplines on eight different projects. The projects are bounded by the timeline of a semester, but a handful of these projects have continued to see continual success, as city staff has successfully leveraged student work to advance the issues for the community.

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Project Cities-Glendale partnership begins its second year with new projects

September 21, 2019

Students going through guided tour of the City of Glendale’s Materials Recovery FacilityThe Project Cities-Glendale partnership is now entering its the second year, collaborating with Arizona State University students and faculty on contemporary sustainability challenges in the community. Over the last year, we have completed five projects, working with eight ASU classes, eight faculty and 108 students. The past projects covered an array of topics, including sustainable facilities, above-ground storage tank safety and compliance, fleet electrification, community engagement and social media policy.

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Arizona Planning Association chapter conference recap

September 16, 2019

AZ Planning Association members holding plaqueThe Sustainable Cities Network and ASU Project Cities attended the AZ Planning Association (AZ APA) State Conference from September 11 to 13, 2019. The conference is an annual gathering of planning professionals from both the public and private sectors to share best practices and celebrate successes. Several fascinating workshops were offered in four main areas: Nuts & Bolts, Environment, Transportation and Communities.

Former Project Cities student Maggie Dellow, PC Program Manager Steve Russell, Rudy Esquivias of Apache Junction, and Meagan Ehlenz from the School of Geographic Sciences and Urban Planning delivered a panel discussion on Friday morning to a packed house of over 100 attendees. The session highlighted a spring 2019 research project conducted by Dellow as her capstone project with the ASU Master in Urban and Environmental Planning Program. This was Dellow’s third public presentation of her research with Project Cities; past presentations were delivered to the Apache Junction City Council during a work session meeting (time 26:59 - 50:50), as well as to the ASU community via the Project Cities Spring 2019 End of Semester Showcase (time 1:05:36 -1:21:13).

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Project Cities launches new partnership with City of Peoria

September 13, 2019

Placemaking in Peoria event Fall 2019The new semester means new projects and partnerships for Arizona State University’s Project Cities. This August marks the inauguration of our newest partner, the City of Peoria. For their first year, we’ve matched five unique projects with a great multidisciplinary team of ASU students and faculty. Project Cities recently held a kickoff event with Peoria, as well as a site visit with another partner community, Glendale, to launch these new initiatives.

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Project Cities–Glendale: first round of summary reports released

August 5, 2019

Glendale Fall 2019 Final Reports

In the Fall 2018 semester, ASU Project Cities convened 47 Arizona State University students across five classes to collaborate with the City of Glendale on three unique community development projects. Following a fulfilling semester, the PC team is excited to share the completion of our Project Summary Reports which document the experience and provide a digestible, action-oriented guide to the high level strategies and recommendations posed by our students.

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Project Cities and Apache Junction celebrate advances in project implementation

July 23, 2019

Happy dog with a big tongueThe partnership between Arizona State University’s Project Cities program and the City of Apache Junction has been a successful, enduring one since the program’s conception in 2017. We are proud to have collaborated with Apache Junction on eight projects across 13 classes, with 213 ASU students since fall 2017. With all of the work our ASU students and faculty have completed, we are excited to see some real impacts begin to come about at the city, informed by Project Cities students’ research and recommendations!

While all the projects our students have completed with the City have proven informative, there are a few that have made significant progress since ASU’s involvement began: A proposal for an off-leash dog park, an RFP-based system overhaul for solid waste management, and a General Plan update incorporating sustainability. The first two started as student proposals from the fall 2017 semester, the third from spring 2018.

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Peoria and Project Cities lay groundwork for promising academic year

July 5, 2019

picture of peoria on mapCampus tends to slow down over the summer, but not at the Sustainable Cities Network. We’re hard at work preparing for the upcoming school year with our newest Project Cities partners: Peoria and Clarkdale. We had the opportunity to deliver remarks about the partnership at last week’s city council meeting. We are happy to share that Peoria City Council officially passed an important procedural milestone: the city approved adoption of the inter-governmental agreement that formalizes their partnership with ASU Project Cities.

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Watch video: Apache Junction and Project Cities partnership

June 26, 2019

moon above mountain in Apache JunctionThe Project Cities program would not be what it is today were it not for its partnership with the City of Apache Junction. As the inaugural partner during the Fall 2017 semester, the city was there from the very beginning. Since then, the two have collaborated on eight projects across 13 classes with 213 total students.

Many of these projects and the work the students produced with them have been further developed by the city and are making a real, tangible impact, allowing both the students and community to benefit. The time, effort and resources dedicated by the City of Apache Junction have resulted in an invaluable partnership that delivers on the ASU Charter and New American University Design Aspirations.

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Project Cities students continue to impress in end-of-semester spring showcase

May 8, 2019

Project Cities Student group photoAs the spring semester came to an end, Arizona State University students shared the work they had been doing with Project Cities in partnership with the City of Glendale and the City of Apache Junction. The Project Cities program works to connect local cities with ASU students, faculty directors and academic courses to research and propose solutions to sustainability challenges affecting the communities.

Students from four classes worked with the program this semester. Albert Brown, an instructor in The Polytechnic School's Environmental and Resource Management program, taught 39 students in ERM 401/501 Hazardous Waste Management to lead the development of a project outline and work plan for the City of Glendale involving above ground storage tank inventory and compliance.

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