Edmonds became the first city in Washington to participate in the new Sustainable Cities Partnership Program, allowing Western students a chance to solve sustainability issues in the real world.
Western students across a variety of disciplines will work on 11 projects during the 2016-17 school year to improve the city of Edmonds’ sustainability. The projects include ecological restoration of the Edmonds marsh, researching ways to eliminate both food and construction waste, creating a public relations campaign to establish a downtown Edmonds cultural arts corridor and developing a mobile app to provide information on city events and attractions.
Key players from Western’s partnership with the city of Edmonds met Thursday, Sept. 29 in the Viking Union to discuss the program.
“[Being able to] have our work make a difference in a community is really valuable.”
“It is absolutely a part of Western’s mission to do things like this, to engage in programs like this,” Associate Vice President for Academic Affairs Brian Burton said. “The essence of what we believe ourselves to be the mission of Western is to bring our considerable strengths to the needs of the state of Washington and I can’t think of a program that exemplifies that mission any more than this program.”
Students working in the program are a part of the participating environmental studies, journalism, computer science, management and anthropology classes. Western’s Academic Director of Sustainability, Grace Wang, said these classes will give participating students experience they might not find elsewhere.
“I think it’s really awesome because we get hands on experience which isn’t true in a lot of courses at a lot of universities,” junior Monica Hescheles said. “[Being able to] have our work make a difference in a community is really valuable.”
Alongside Western, the Association of Washington Cities aided in launching this program, providing funding, promotion, direction in program design and choosing Edmonds as the inaugural city. Michelle Harvey, a representative for Association of Washington Cities, explained how Western is taking a new approach to existing goals and objectives.
“You’re going to be creating a community where you want to live, and where you want your kids want to live, and to me that’s sustainable.”
“We are bringing in a whole new perspective, a whole new vision of sustainability,” Harvey said. “You’re going to be creating a community where you want to live, and where you want your kids want to live, and to me that’s sustainable.”
Senior Rossella Bernocco said it’s important for people to recognize how sustainability can affect communities, and is glad Western cares enough to implement programs like the sustainable cities program.
“I think [sustainability is] having a really big impact on earth, just in general, and I think it’s important for institutions, like colleges and cities, to start and try to implement that into their system,” Bernocco said.
The Association of Washington Cities hopes this inaugural program will spark an interest with others, and more Washington cities will follow suit in working towards sustainability.