Tag: City of Eugene

PPPM students work on policy with Eugene

City officials have put student groups to work in PPPM 408 “Real World Eugene” to identify and provide suggestions on some city issues around Eugene. These include encouraging millennial interaction with the city, helping develop a City-sponsored, residential composting pilot program, producing a guidebook and setting a precedent on how to engage in tactical urbanism, and providing insight about why college students are driving cars to campus.

On Halloween night, two University of Oregon students went door-to-door in the Friendly Neighborhood to engage neighbors and gather design ideas for a class initiative that would renovate a nearby intersection.

Neighbors who answered their doors didn’t find trick-or-treaters, but rather undergraduate students Jackie Stinson and Dianna Montzka, who shared their project on painting the 26th and Olive intersection.


“We wanted to take advantage of Halloween because we knew that’s the best chance we had for people to open their doors and welcome strangers,” says Montzka, an undergraduate architecture major. “Each house was overwhelmingly positive.

The 26th and Olive intersection is the only four-way intersection on College Hill without a stop sign says Bethany Steiner, course co-instructor and associate director of the PPPM Community Planning Workshop. City officials turned down a Friendly Neighborhood resident’s request for a stop sign to be mounted at the intersection, because the intersection’s accident rate wasn’t high enough to merit an installation.

So the group’s plan for an art installation in the road would theoretically encourage drivers to slow down, rather than speed through the intersection

Stinson and Montzka are working with other PPPM students Megan Knox, Morgan Greenwood and Bryce Yoshikawa in the “Tactical Urbanism” group – a term defined as “a short-term action that produces a long-term change.”

The group’s project, in collaborating with city officials, is a component of the 400-level PPPM course “Real World Eugene.” The course introduces PPPM students with Eugene city officials to practice professional work within the city.

Other class projects include: forming a contaminant notification system for a pilot residential composting program in Eugene, studying students’ driving patterns to and from campus, and identifying how the city can best engage millennials in community decision-making.

City officials initiated all the course’s projects.

“It’s part of our goal to utilize students’ creativity, expertise, and energy to help the city solve problems,” says Steiner. “It’s a really cool way to run a class.”

The group’s objective is to create a free guidebook, specific to Eugene, about the process of tactical urbanism.. The goal is for community members to be able to enact similar undertakings, with the support of the local government. The guidebook will include a step-by-step process; what grants are available from the city; and a contact list of who to consult.

Stinson says the guidebook’s intention is to provide neighbors more information on taking action and make the task of “tactical urbanism” less daunting.

“I think the guidebook would benefit the community. It’s something a lot of people know about or have heard about, but aren’t quite sure how to do it,” says Jason Dedrick, a policy analyst for the City of Eugene. “There are things related to tactical urbanism online; this will personalize it, make it more about Eugene, and benefit community members.”

Dedrick connects all four groups with community officials. He says that the course work lets students try their hand at city planning and policy work.

“Students have a different lens, and are willing to ask questions that other [city officials] wouldn’t think to ask,” says Dedrick. “For us, it really helps to tighten [the City’s] relationship with the university.”

Steiner and Bob Parker, course co-instructor and director of the Community Service Center, were awarded the Williams Fund to finance and authorize the course, being taught for its very first term.

“This idea of undergraduates doing real-world work is really experimental; it could have not worked at all. The Williams Fund allowed us to take that risk and see how it works,” says Steiner.

Parker adds, “Real World Eugene is a unique opportunity for students to work on pressing community problems that are important to the City and to the community. It’s been very exciting to observe how the students engage in what amount to complicated community issues and how the work together to creatively problem solve. For the students, it’s a unique experience that cannot be replicated in the classroom.”

Another student group is working with the City on developing a contaminant notification system for the City’s pilot, residential composting program. This system is an integral part of the composting program and must be figured out before the pilot can go live.

The class’s “College Student Vehicle Use” group is working with the City of Eugene’s transportation planning division to investigate why students drive to campus. The group includes students Corum Ketchum, Madeleine McNally, Max Morrison, and Mitch Koch.

The group visited different student-housing complex’s parking lots and garages throughout Eugene (such as 13th and Olive, Ducks Village, and the Hub) at nighttime, and again the following morning, and after classes, between 10 a.m and 2 p.m. when students’ cars would be used. “By dividing the cars in the morning by the cars at night gives us the number of cars that left,” says Ketchum, a PPPM major. “That shows which students are using their vehicles to get to campus or work.”

These factors, supplemented by student replies about driving habits on a survey, will help the City better understand why students choose to drive to campus. This information is important for the City and the UO to gather when making relevant policy decisions.

“We have a unique perspective as students because we can get student insight. Often these decisions [that affect students] are done in silos,” says PPPM major McNally. “The city has a task on their hands to try to plan for student behavior. But students represent such a diverse population, in general.”

The group considers numerous factors – constant rain, lack of sheltered bike parking, and long distances between home and the university – that may encourage a student to use his or her car.

“They’re finding out how diverse and all-encompassing the issue really is,” says Dedrick.

The “Millennials and Engagement” group is studying how the City of Eugene can better communicate with and engage the millennial population. Establishing a connection between city planners and the generation (defined as being born between 1980 and 1999) encourages student involvement with the city.

“The city really wants to hear from young people about how the city should run and what services it should offer, but historically has had a difficult time engaging the population,” says Steiner.

Steiner says her hope is for the course to become a long-term course within the PPPM curricula.

“My hope is that we continue to partner with the City of Eugene so that we continue to strengthen our relationship and create some systems that make sense,” she said. “It’s important to stay local. I believe in the university directly interacting with the city.”

You can read more about PPPM 408, Real World Eugene at the course blog site: http://blogs.uoregon.edu/PPPM408Steiner

Story by Emerson Malone

Planning with Empathy


Whom are we serving? How would they like to be served? Who are we? All these questions of assessment and reflection are necessary in the pursuit of serving the public in meaningful ways that transcend the context of a class assignment. Instead of simply an assignment, our project is a real world endeavor, (with the class as the medium) where the “grades” are in the form of impact on the lives of people in the community.

I am working on Evaluating Rest Stops and Micro-Villages in the City of Eugene
 as a part of one project for this year’s Community Planning Workshop. The specific project is related to developing and identifying strategies toward best practice of providing housing for the unhoused population in Eugene. Our project will provide recommendations as to how the City of Eugene may better facilitate the provision of micro-village programs (like Opportunity Village) that provide safe places of transitional housing for the unhoused.

Recently, in an evaluative checkpoint of the work our group has done thus far, we met with our working committee. The working committee includes two representatives from City of Eugene’s Office of Human Rights Involvement, an Opportunity Village Volunteer, and a representative from both Community Supported Shelters and Nightingale Health Sanctuary.

This meeting was affirmation that, since the beginning of the project, our team has become more informed and well-versed in the issue of there being many unhoused individuals in the City of Eugene; however, it was also a reminder that our understanding has only scratched the surface. The majority of the meeting was set aside for dialoguing with our committee and receiving feedback about our work-to-date as well as our plan for moving forward.

Coincidentally, this meeting followed a class session about the integration of empathy into the planning process. This class in particular was generally relevant to our group and topic of engagement because assessing provisions for the unhoused, as a project in social justice, requires a point of departure firmly situated in empathy. The in-depth feedback received from our working committee, reiterated this necessity. How, as a team, do we integrate empathy into our approach to problem solving and planning? The way to integrate empathy is to start with empathy and the accompanied processes of active listening and welcoming constructive feedback.

It is not until we become listeners, unequivocally so, that we can become empathizers. Then, we can move in that empathy toward making a positive contribution and meaningful impact with/for the people we serve.


Jaleel Reed Evaluating Rest Stops and Micro-Villages EugeneAbout the Author: Jaleel Reed is a dual-Master’s student in Environmental Studies as well as Community and Regional Planning. An environmental scientist by degree from Northwestern University, he has re-oriented his interest toward environmental justice and community development. Outside of class, Jaleel doubles as a food and fitness enthusiast.