News and Opinion from Sisters, Oregon

'Sustainable City' students celebrate year in Sisters

Sisters community members, City Council members and University of Oregon students celebrated the end of the Sustainable City Year Partnership (SCYP) between the University and the City of Sisters. Last Thursday evening at FivePine Convention Center, University of Oregon (UO) students ranging from sophomores to seniors to master's students displayed their work for the Sustainable City partnership.

That partnership started last year, between the University's Planning, Public Policy, and Management program (PPPM) and the City of Sisters. Students created mock-ups and designs to model how to make Sisters more sustainable. Specifically, students focused on transportation and making the city more bicycle-friendly, as well as potential ideas for the use of the old elementary school building.

The event marked the culmination of a year's worth of collaboration between students, faculty, City staff, and Sisters School District (SSD).

Students created posters with their various ideas for bike infrastructure in the city, including more bikeability in the newly approved East Portal Transportation Hub at the edge of town.

"We used everything the City had already put in place and created more options for bikeability, as Sisters is the premiere place for biking," said presenting student Ravi Cullop.

Their poster idea included a bike share program where riders could pay for the use of a City bike to use during their time around Sisters.

Throughout the year, students visited Sisters and, alongside City staff, got to know the infrastructure of the town by biking around and hearing about all the up-and-coming projects.

Architecture students focused on various adaptations of the existing elementary school building once the school is housed in the newly constructed building in September 2024. They reimagined the site for housing needs. The PPPM classes looked at the building's potential for adaptive reuse and teacher/workforce housing, age-friendly neighborhood, or a recreation/community center. The students worked closely with Curt Scholl and the SSD in potential adaptations for the property.

Ultimately, the property was designated as a facility for Sisters Park & Recreation District.

"These types of projects and collaborations are important, and they impact people and are hugely important for the city," said Mayor Michael Preedin at the event.

Marc Schlossberg , professor of PPPM and transportation classes, spoke about the inception of the project and how partnerships like this one are happening nationwide and internationally.

"It is the transformational idea of partnership and how to move forward with communities," he said. "The essence of the program is to match the goals of the community with courses offered at the UO."

Schlossberg looks forward to continuing the project with forward-looking students. The SCYP program started in 2010.

Megan Banks, the program's director, thanked Sisters City staff for allowing students to come into the community.

"This program really allows us to think outside of the box in how we approach projects and potential for a community," she said.

All the work students put together will be available in project reports for the public and for City staff to reference. Those project reports should be available by the end of the summer. Many of the students echoed the sentiment that it was really nice to apply what they are learning to a place.


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