Edmonds first Washington city to sign on to Sustainable Cities partnership

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Analyzing the likely impacts of sea-level rise upon the Edmonds shoreline will be among the projects undertaken by Western Washington University students starting this fall. (Photo by Eric Sonett)
Analyzing the likely impacts of sea-level rise upon the Edmonds shoreline will be among the projects undertaken by Western Washington University students starting this fall. (Photo by Eric Sonett)

Following up on the unanimous vote by the Edmonds City Council Tuesday night, the City of Edmonds this week provided additional details about an interlocal agreement with Western Washington University and the Association of Washington Cities for a Sustainable Cities partnership.

Under the agreement, Edmonds will receive a helping hand from WWU students and faculty on a range of projects during the 2016-17 academic year – from developing a mobile app for downtown visitors to helping reduce stormwater impacts to the Edmonds Marsh.

Edmonds will be the first city in the state of Washington to participate in the Sustainable Cities Partnership, with the aim “to focus student energy and ideas on a variety of city issues and challenges oriented toward sustainability,” according to a city announcement.

“When I learned about this possibility, it just sounded like a terrific program to match ideas coming out of Western with our city’s needs,” said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling. “I am especially interested in a public relations project that will help the city promote a downtown cultural/arts corridor to further enhance our robust arts community.”

The City of Edmonds has embraced environmental stewardship for a number of years, and is committed to sustainability as an overall framework in all of its plans and operations, the city announcement said.

“The opportunity to partner with WWU and AWC on a number of local projects will be an exciting way to advance these goals in a concrete way,” said City of Edmonds Planning Manager Rob Chave,

The partnership also advances Western’s institutional goal of applying its academic expertise in ways that strengthen communities beyond the campus.

“Western’s mission is to give our students the best education possible and to serve the needs of the state. Programs such as this that help cities meet their goals and give students the chance to solve real problems help us fulfill that mission,” said Brian Burton, associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Western.

AWC and Western launched the Sustainable Cities Partnership based on a successful model pioneered at the University of Oregon seven years ago, now replicated in dozens of sites around the country. The partnership pairs students and faculty together with cities to work on city-defined projects.

“Cities throughout Washington strive to improve sustainability and resiliency in their communities,” said Association for Washington Cities CEO Peter B. King. “This partnership is a great step forward in providing cities with tools to help plan for the future.”

Edmonds was selected as the inaugural partner after a competitive process. During the 2016-2017 academic year, students and faculty will tackle 11 projects that include:
· Reduction of stormwater impacts upon the Edmonds Marsh;
· Help develop the fledgling “Green Business Pledge” program in Edmonds;
· Development of a mobile app to make visitors aware of amenities in downtown Edmonds;
· Evaluating available methods of dealing with construction waste and food waste;
· Analyzing the likely impacts of sea-level rise upon the Edmonds shoreline.

Earling also noted one of the most challenging projects will use GIS to modernize management of the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery. “I think it will be really interesting to see the approach and the end results,” he said.

The full range of courses and projects can be seen at the Sustainable Cities Partnership website.

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