News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

University students to work on sustainability

Students from the University of Oregon Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) visited Sisters on Friday, October 7, to meet with City staff and personnel from the Sisters School District (SSD) and Sisters Park & Recreation District (SPRD).

They toured the school district administration building and the elementary school with Superintendent Curtis Scholl to get an initial overview of the facilities. They also walked around town to observe traffic, sidewalks, parks, paths, parking, and transitions to other uses in the neighborhood.

The Sisters City Council earlier approved $85,000 for an agreement with the University of Oregon for their SCYP during school year 2022/23. The school district and SPRD have joined in and will benefit from the program, while reimbursing the City $15,000 for the fall classes.

All school year, upper- level and graduate students will work on actual City, SSD, and SPRD projects, and plans related to their coursework on campus. In the fall quarter, they will be working mainly with the school district on how to repurpose the current elementary school and administration building, possibly including use by SPRD.

November 22 is the date scheduled for their final presentations for fall term. The City, SSD, and SPRD will receive all their data, reports, and final presentations to be used as appropriate.

Consideration of the specific classes for winter (which begin January 9, 2023) and spring classes (begin April 3, 2023) is ongoing and yet to be determined but could include supporting the newly formed destination management organization (Explore Sisters), public information, bicycle planning, diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Sustainable City Year Program is a university-community partnership program founded at the University of Oregon in 2009. In this unique model, existing courses, faculty, and students from across campus are purposefully directed toward a single Oregon community for an academic year to address issues identified by the City.

According to information from the program, SCYP is more than just students working on a project for a class. It is creating Oregon’s future workforce, developing a connection with local government and Oregon communities, and generating creative, out-of-the-box ideas by high-achieving students and faculty experts.

The SCYP is a collaboration of faculty and students from multiple academic disciplines, including architecture, landscape architecture, business, journalism, public policy and management, law, and others.

The benefits for the city participating are many, including increased capacity, expanded conversations, innovation, broad outreach, energy, political space, and creativity beyond what would be possible in nine months just utilizing staff.

Working with the program also involves a much smaller price tag than contracting with an established consulting firm.

Past projects have been directed toward affordable housing, environmental sustainability and resiliency, economic development, tourism promotion, transportation and infrastructure, quality of life and city livability, and community involvement and information.


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