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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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University-city partnerships: Paving new paths for students’ success

April 15, 2019

Zhihao Chen and Saskia Kemp standing in front of project cities posterAt Arizona State University, students are presented with many opportunities to gain hands-on experience in their field by learning outside of the classroom. One of these is our relatively young Project Cities (PC) program. PC helps students develop professional skills, apply classroom knowledge to real-world projects, and build networks with other students and professionals with local municipalities. A total of 21 classes and 329 students have participated in Project Cities over the course of four semesters since the program started in fall 2017.

PC staff interviewed two ASU students who had been involved in our program multiple times about their experiences with Project Cities. The first of these was Zhihao Chen, an entrepreneur and recent graduate from ASU’s Environmental Resource Management (ERM) program. The other was Saskia Kemp, a senior, also in the ERM program with a minor in Sustainability.

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Project Cities and Peoria work to conserve water

View Source | March 25, 2019

Sign about reclaimed water in Peoria, AZOn Cronkite News, see how Project Cities is working with the city of Peoria (the program's 2019-2020 community partner) to use water wisely. The video news story also touches on a previous Project Cities initiative with former partner Apache Junction.

"We all use water, and we need to have a better understanding of how we consume the water and what we are going to do to encourage further decrease in water consumption," said Lisa Estrada, sustainability manager for the City of Peoria. By collaborating with Project Cities, Peoria will create plans for water shortage response and water conservation.

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ASU Project Cities announces 2019-2020 community partner

February 7, 2019

ASU Project Cities is proud to announce our 2019-2020 Community Partner: The City of Peoria!

Peoria AZ logoPeoria is home to more than 171,000 residents and was ranked the number one place to live in Arizona by Money Magazine. With numerous recreational attractions, the city is well known as a family-oriented, active community with an exceptional quality of life. The city has demonstrated a strong commitment to sustainability, as evidenced by its directive to incorporate LEED building design standards, a council-adopted Sustainability Action Plan, and a dedicated full-time staff person to manage and coordinate organization-wide sustainability initiatives.

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Ask a climate scientist: what communities want to know about climate

January 11, 2019

People sitting around round tables talking at SCN/AMS conferenceA spacious Marriott conference room, six round tables with every seat filled, each table with a designated sign, including “Community Planning for Climate Change” or “Weather and Climate Monitoring.” This was the setting where stakeholders interested in the intersection of cities and climate met. At the American Meteorological Society annual conference, climate experts and Arizona State University Sustainable Cities Network partners were brought together to discuss local questions about climate change. Twelve climate experts were selected to lead roundtable discussions on six different topics chosen by cities.

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Project Cities celebrates successful fall semester at student showcase

December 17, 2018

Student standing and smiling near poster presentation during discussion with Glendale city officialArizona State University Project Cities held its end-of-semester fall student showcase with the City of Glendale at ASU Wrigley Hall on November 28, 2018.

Project Cities is a young program at ASU that celebrates the power of project-based learning and the value of a client-centered educational experience for students. Project Cities aims to create value for students, faculty and local communities by drawing connections between university resources and real-world municipal sustainability challenges. Over the course of the 2018 fall semester, ASU students, faculty and City of Glendale staff worked collaboratively to address several environmental, social and economic sustainability challenges.

At the showcase, students from multiple ASU campuses and five different classes presented their research findings through engaging presentations and posters. One project generated best practices and drafted policies to support the city’s plan to hire their first full-time social media manager. Other projects proposed the creation of a youth civic engagement committee, provided recommendations for a new sustainable facilities master plan and more.

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Involving youth in multi-generational community engagement

November 20, 2018

Glendale multi-generational community engagement"Every young person can recall cringing as their elders embark on a “You kids have it so easy. Back in my day…” tale. And for many things, yes, perhaps life was more difficult; but this does not mean the youth do not continue to face their own unique set of challenges. Civic engagement is an area where many young people do not feel they belong and have trouble involving themselves. With the initiative of Project Cities, Arizona State University students and the City of Glendale worked to address this.

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Project Cities students put their social media skills to use for the City of Glendale

October 30, 2018

Arizona State University’s fall 2018 Project Cities program social media plan presentationDo you think you're social media-savvy? In this digital age, it seems you must be in order to stay on top of the latest trends. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, LinkedIn — these are classics that any seasoned veteran would know at this point. TikTok, Periscope, Marco Polo, Voxer… maybe not so much. In order to navigate this web of social media platforms and procedures, the City of Glendale worked with students from Arizona State University’s fall 2018 Project Cities program on a social media plan.

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Students put their education to work with sustainable city planning and policy

October 5, 2018

SOS/PAF 545: Organizations, Sustainability & Public Policy presentationFrom low-carbon systems and LEED-certified building construction to water and land conservation techniques, there are many ways to promote and practice sustainability within the community. While it can be easier said than done to implement these things, one Arizona State University class did just that through Project Cities. Led by Nicole Darnall, associate dean and professor of public policy and management in Arizona State University’s School of Sustainability, students in SOS/PAF 545: Organizations, Sustainability & Public Policy are working to create a more sustainable future in the Valley.

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Project Cities acts as mutually beneficial partnership that engages arts students

View Source | September 26, 2018

Project Cities acts as mutually beneficial partnership that engages arts studentsWorking for the benefit of our community is central to the mission of Arizona State University, but it’s actually a pretty radical idea, according to a professor who teaches students how to do it.

One of ASU’s eight design aspirations is “social embeddedness,” defined as: ASU connects with communities through mutually beneficial partnerships.

In the past few decades, the concept of “community engagement” has moved into academia and arts, said Michael Rohd, an Institute Professor at the Herberger Institute for Design and the Arts.

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ASU Project Cities hosts Spring Showcase April 25 to highlight student-driven solutions

April 19, 2018

Team of students presents their findings

In the ASU Wrigley Institute's Project Cities program, students in departments across ASU - including public service, urban planning, theater, history, and sustainability - have been diligently crafting solutions for Apache Junction's most pressing environmental and social challenges. See their hard work presented to the City of Apache Junction at this semester's Project Cities Student Showcase.

Project Cities is an interdisciplinary partnership between local cities and the university. It pairs teams of students in ASU courses with challenges presented by cities to create innovative solutions for cities and promote academic and professional development among students.

The showcase will take place on Wednesday, April 25th, 2018, on the ASU Tempe campus in the Memorial Union, Room 207. It will last from 12:30pm to 3:30pm, with a poster discussion continuing afterwards. Light refreshments will be served.

Please RSVP here.

Project Cities research asks East Valley residents to help create cultural map of the land

April 19, 2018

Landscape photo of Superstition Wilderness with saguaro

Think of a local spot you love to visit in your city. Is it a city park? A trailhead? A brewery or theater? If you live in the East Valley of the Phoenix area - or visit the East Valley or the Superstition Wilderness Area frequently - digital history students in an ASU Project Cities course project want to hear your answers.

The students are conducting a survey designed to identify the most important cultural landmarks of the East Valley – specifically, the Apache Junction area. The survey will inform the students’ suggestions for the City of Apache Junction to help improve geographical and cultural awareness and pride in the city.

This course project is one part of the Project Cities program’s year-long partnership with the City of Apache Junction. The partnership empowers ASU students to address the city’s environmental and social challenges through various course projects across multiple disciplines.

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Celebrating local history and sustainability (ghosts and all) at free performance in Apache Junction

April 11, 2018

smiling students collaborating in a circle

In the city of Apache Junction, just east of Phoenix, sharing ghost stories and advancing local social sustainability are complementary activities, according to a class of graduate students from ASU's School of Film, Dance and Theater.

In a course project coordinated by the ASU Wrigley Institute’s Project Cities program this semester, the students partnered with the City of Apache Junction to develop innovative ways to enrich the community’s historical awareness and strengthen the city’s brand. To do the trick, they’re leveraging the city’s rich Wild West history, complete with ghostly and superstitious tales.

The students have culminated their hard work in a performance titled “Positively Ghostly”, taking place on April 15th in Apache Junction. The students will reenact haunted tales both remembered and forgotten that are woven into Apache Junction’s history. The performance is free and open to all ages. It will take place from 6:00-7:30 p.m. at Flatiron Park (100 North Apache Trail). Free cookies will be served at 7:30 p.m.

Glendale Becomes First in Arizona to Replace Streetlights with LED Bulbs

January 18, 2018

Glendale APS

It isn’t every day a city council gets a treat like the one Glendale enjoyed Tuesday night.

The city was honored for its work to change out all of their old energy draining high-pressure sodium arc lights with efficient LED replacements.

The project was achieved with help from Arizona State University’s Sustainable Cities Network. As a founding member of the network, Glendale has worked with the university and other member cities to reduce energy use, carbon footprint, recycling and other efforts.

According to the network’s director Anne Reichman, Glendale and Phoenix worked closely as Phoenix started to negotiate to replace its 92,000 streetlights.

“As part of this LED purchase, Glendale was able to piggyback the city of Phoenix originated for their LED streetlight replacement,” she said.

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Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community Turns Brownfield to Greenfield

January 9, 2018

Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community

The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community (SRPMIC) is turning a former Brownfield site into an Environmental Education Demonstration Garden.

The site, formerly called the Beeline Gravel Pit, was a raceway-turned-disposal area that was transformed with the help of EPA Brownfields Site Specific Funds. SRPMIC completed cleanup of the site in 2016—and then began to reimagine its use.

The Environmental Education Demonstration Garden was inspired by the idea of having a new green space to teach SRPMIC Community members about the importance of protecting and taking care of the land and its resources. Rather than develop the site and then invite Community members into it, SRPMIC began site transformation with Community education in mind.

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SCN Hosts Show Me the Money! Grant Workshop with a Collaborative Focus

September 22, 2017

People at Grant Workshop

Getting grants—state, federal, from foundations, or otherwise—has always been a competitive and overwhelming process. Community participants of the Sustainable Cities Network have longed for a workshop on grant writing not only to fund their own projects, but to bring more investment and positive change to Arizona communities. SCN answered this call with a grant workshop on September 13, 2017, facilitated by one of Arizona State University’s own Research Advancement Managers, Ann Marie Hess, who has extensive experience in developing, managing, and implementing large grant-funded projects.

This workshop touched on understanding critical parts of RFPs and writing effective proposals, and emphasized the value of collaboration on projects and in securing grants. Participants were able to share their progress on current grant applications, as well as discuss opportunities for joint projects, collaborations, and applications.

In all, over 40 participants benefited from this half-day workshop. Future workshops may be held and customized further depending on attendee feedback. For now, these participants—ranging from communities of all sizes across Arizona—have the starter tools to develop some highly competitive grant proposals and applications. Watch out, grant providers! Arizona communities are coming for you.

Links to the presentation and materials provided at this workshop can be found here.

Sustainable Cities Network (SCN) Partner News – City of Glendale Desert Food Forest

September 6, 2017

Earlier this summer, the City of Glendale Water Services Department sponsored three “Hotel Saguaro” puppet shows during the Glendale Library’s busy summer reading program. A unique pre-show activity called “Taste Your Yard” allowed participants to learn about desert edible and medicinal plants. Hotel Saguaro puppet show

The City partnered with Maricopa County Master Gardeners, Library teen volunteers, and Trees Matter to staff interactive stations where participants made mesquite flour and sampled desert edibles, such as prickly pear candy, agave syrup, and pomegranate juice. This popular session demonstrated the need for more opportunities to learn about desert food—thankfully, development of the Desert Food Forest was underway.

The City of Glendale Water Services Department was recently awarded an Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management Community Challenge Grant to develop a Desert Food Forest demonstration at the Glendale Xeriscape Demonstration Garden. The Desert Food Forest will showcase water-efficient, desert-edible trees, shrubs, perennials, and succulents that homeowners can successfully grow, harvest, and enjoy in their own landscapes. The landscape will utilize passive rainwater harvesting, curb cuts with permeable pathways, and an interpretive sign to engage the public.

In addition to the 3,000 sq. ft. demonstration, the grant will provide for youth and adult education on Sonoran Desert edible and medicinal plants. The City is partnering with the Linking Edible Arizona Forests (LEAF) Network to offer a free “Create Your Own Desert Food Forest” class on Saturday, October 21 from 10 a.m. to Noon at the Glendale Main Library (5959 W. Brown St.). A design charrette, involving local plant experts, is scheduled this September and will help ensure a sustainable design that is compatible to our unique climate. The Food Forest demonstration is scheduled to be installed later this fall.

This project was born out of residents’ increasing interest in learning how to transform their lawns into more water-efficient desert gardens. In the Phoenix metropolitan area, outdoor water usage typically makes up more than half of a resident’s total water usage. Much of this water is used to support lawns and ornamental plants that require more resources and maintenance than desert-adapted plants. With the gaining popularity of growing desert edibles, this project will provide a demonstration and resource for visitors at the Glendale Xeriscape Demonstration Garden who want to create a desert food forest that benefits people, native wildlife, and the environment.

Apache Junction becomes inaugural partner of ASU’s Project Cities

August 29, 2017

View of desert community at the foot of large rocky mountains

Nestled at the foot of the Superstition Mountains, Apache Junction is strategically positioned as the eastern gateway into the Greater Phoenix metro area and the western entry to the Tonto National Forest’s recreation venues. This geography, coupled with a western atmosphere, make the city appealing to residents and visitors alike.

Along with its many attractive qualities, the city of Apache Junction – like most communities – faces unique sustainability challenges as it continues to grow. It is these challenges that form the basis of a partnership with Arizona State University’s Project Cities program.

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Sustainable Cities Network (SCN) Partner News – Peoria Makes Strides with Upcoming Net Zero Sites

July 11, 2017

Solar Panels

By Erin Rugland

The City of Peoria recently finalized a contract with energy efficiency and renewable energy company, Ameresco, Inc. This partnership will include energy efficiency retrofits of thirteen different city facilities, as well as solar photovoltaic installations at eight different sites in the City.

In addition to these projects, two sites in Peoria will become Net Zero: the Sunrise Mountain Library and Fire Station 191. This means that the buildings' energy usage will be roughly equal to the renewable energy produced on-site.

Two additional sites will be "unofficially" Net Zero. Fire Station 196 and Pinnacle Peak Patrol Services Building are within 10% of the size required to confidently be deemed Net Zero, but will produce energy similarly to the true Net Zero sites.

Lisa Estrada, the City of Peoria’s Economic Efficiency and Sustainability Manager, has been working for the City for over 10 years and has had significant involvement in the SCN Steering Committee and Solar & Energy Efficiency Workgroup. She has helped to work behind-the-scenes in the City to prepare for this contract with Ameresco, utilizing knowledge gleaned from SCN and other city participants.

According to Ms. Estrada, “Being part of ASU’s Sustainable Cities Network provides a forum in which we can learn from each others’ successes. Ideas begin to formulate here at SCN and with hard work and persistence, these ideas eventually can lead to a great project like this one. I’m always inspired by the collective knowledge and expertise in the room. SCN has definitely been integral to our success in Peoria.”

The City of Peoria’s upcoming projects are completely self-funded and will take the City even further toward achieving its sustainability goals. Click here to read more about the City of Peoria’s energy efficiency efforts.