October 30, 2014
by Julia Havens

Meet our RARE AmeriCorps Participant: Maia Hardy

Maia Hardy RARE Resource Assistance for Rural Environments City of Creswell AmeriCorps

About Maia Hardy

Maia received her Bachelor of Science in Urban and Regional Planning and Non-Profit Management from Eastern Michigan University.  In her last few months as a student, Maia was as the Ypsilanti Representative for the Millennial Mayors Congress where she met with elected officials and civil leaders to discuss pertinent and pressing issues facing the Detroit-metro region.  As a student, Maia was also selected for a number of competitive grants, internships and research opportunities.  After realizing her passion for planning and community development, Maia decided to dedicate herself to serving communities in need, making her a perfect fit for the RARE-Resource Assistant for Rural Environments AmeriCorps Program.  Following Maia’s second year with the RARE AmeriCorps Program, she plans on enrolling in a Master’s program at the University of Oregon.

About the City of Creswell

Creswell, Oregon is located in the Southern portion of the Willamette Valley and has recently emerged from a period of time with significant political challenges. With a new roster of City Councilors, a new City Administrator, and a new full time Planning Technician, there are a number of projects on the horizon that will benefit the city of Creswell. The population of approximately 5,060 continues to grow faster than the State average, estimating 11,000 people by 2032. Currently the greatest challenge facing Creswell is the lack of a vision that outlines the values of the City.

Working with the City of Creswell, Maia will expand on the visioning efforts that were put forth by the former RARE participant in 2013-2014.  Initially, she will focus her efforts on economic development and conducting an assessment of the business community. The assessment will require extensive research utilizing a mail-in survey methodology combined with stakeholder interviewing. Once data has been collected, a set of recommendations will bring together the business community with local and regional stakeholders. Maia will also be undertaking a management plan for one of Creswell’s two parks, Garden Lake Park. The goal is to create a vision for the park, and identify long and short term solutions to the seasonal algae blooms in the ponds. Garden Lake Park is also the venue for the annual Earth Day Celebration put forth each year by the RARE participant in Creswell.

October 29, 2014
by Julia Havens

Meet our RARE AmeriCorps Participant: Mariah Dodson

Mariah Dodson Canby Oregon RARE Resource Assistance for Rural Environments AmeriCorpsAbout Mariah Dodson

Mariah received her Bachelor of Arts in History with minors in Business and International Studies from Gonzaga University. During college, Mariah participated in the Hogan Entrepreneurial Leadership program, where she focused on learning about creating social ventures to aid in community and economic development. After attaining her Bachelor’s degree, Mariah became a Conservation Volunteer with American Conservation Experience, wokring on projects involving invasive species removal, ecological restoration, fence building, trail work, and dry stone masonry projects. Mariah hopes that the RARE (Resource Assistance for Rural Environments) AmeriCorps program will help her further develop her technical skills and leadership and communication abilities. After her year with RARE, Mariah plans to begin working on a graduate degree in Landscape Architecture or Urban and Regional Planning.

Marian is placed with the City of Canby and is working with its Economic Development and Main Street Programs to tackle current challenges and assist the city to reach its future goals. Projects will encompass each of the three Canby business districts (the Downtown, the Highway OR 99E Corridor, and the Industrial areas) as well as other areas within the Urban Renewal District.  As Community Outreach Specialist, Mariah will serve as a broad resource to assist the Main Street Manager with expanding downtown events, recruiting and coordinating committee and event volunteers, and administering committee meetings and initiatives. Mariah will also conduct an extensive business survey to assist with recruiting new businesses and development, and ensure that Canby remains an attractive place to do business.

About the City of Canby

The City of Canby is located at the northern end of the Willamette Valley and is surrounded by three rivers—the Willamette River to the north, and the convergence of the Molalla and Pudding Rivers to the west. Canby possesses a rich heritage centered in farming and the railroad with its own distinct small town identity. Still depending on its traditional economic bases, Canby has evolved from a small agricultural ‘bedroom’ community into a regional and international business location despite being situated within a 30 minute drive of downtown Portland, Oregon. Canby’s population has reached over 16,866 and continues to grow. Since 1990, the Canby’s population has grown by almost 6,500 or by 300 new residents per year. The current level of business growth and activity in Canby is relatively strong and the variety of employment bases is impressive for the city’s size.

The mission of Canby’s Economic Development Department is to “support existing Canby businesses, recruit new business and development, and to ensure that Canby remains an attractive place to do business”. In order to best serve the needs of these separate industry clusters and to focus on location-specific challenges faced by businesses, Canby is divided into three business districts: the Downtown, the Highway OR 99E Corridor, and the Industrial areas.

October 23, 2014
by Julia Havens

Meet our RARE AmeriCorps Participant: Liz Esposito

Liz Esposito RARE Resource Assistance for Rural Environments

About Liz Esposito

Liz received her Bachelor of Arts in Environmental Science and Policy from Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts.  As a student, Liz was a Summer Research Fellow for the Center for the Environment, Ecological Design  and Sustainability, and Landscape Studies Program, where she designed a chestnut orchard for the MacLeish Field Station.  Upon graduation, Liz spent four months as Central Connecticut Regional Planning Agency’s Planning Aide before getting promoted to Assistant Planner.  Liz plans to use her year with RARE-Resource Assistance for Rural Environment to gain experience that would be benefit her in graduate school, as well as determine where her academic concentration will be. 

Liz is placed with the City of St. Helens, where she will coordinate and manage various components of the St. Helens Main Street Program.  Liz will be involved in all aspects including daily administration, long-range planning, stakeholder engagement, and various special main street projects.

About the City of St. Helens

The City of St. Helens is located in southeastern Columbia County on the Columbia River, approximately 30 miles northwest of Portland, Oregon.  Near the riverfront, the Old Town portion of St. Helens features a Nationally Registered Historic District encompassing 10 blocks, which includes residences and civic buildings dating back nearly a century.  Currently, the community is in transition shifting from a historic “mill town” to now determining its future.  With a population of 12,895, one defining characteristic is that 70 percent of the workforce commutes outside the county.

October 20, 2014
by Julia Havens

Traveling south along the rockies; Mountain bike in tow

Nick Meltzer P.E. University of Oregon Alumni Masters Community and Regional Planning CRP

What do University of Oregon’s Community and Regional Planning (PPPM) Alumni do after they graduate? Or life after CPW – Community Planning Workshop? For Nicholas Meltzer, it’s a peaceful trip on his mountain bike across the Rockies. According to Nick’s blog, Chasing Fall, the inspiration for this trip came from two places:

#1. The grandfather of a friend to Nick  allotted each of his grandchildren some money to go on a trip. It had to be intentional, and each grandchild had to prove how they were going to become a better person because of it.

#2.  An excellent blog post, Everybody needs a Grand Tour, which is about spending time adjusting to a different schedule.

Interested in learning more about the trip, route and Nick’s thoughts on his journey to become a better person? Check out this very awesome blog at chasingfallonabike.wordpress.com