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2012 Solutions Generator

In spring 2012, campus became a testing ground for processing compost, treating wastewater, and improving transportation options—just a few of the 13 projects selected the 2012 Solutions Generator. The projects were selected from a competitive group of nearly 40 proposals.

2012 Projects


12th Avenue Cycle Track
Kate Petak, Rene Allen, Sirisha Kothuri, and Stefan Bussey

Transportation contributes significantly to greenhouse gas emissions both at PSU and for the City of Portland as a whole. A common goal of the Climate Action Plans adopted by PSU and the City of Portland is to reduce transportation related emissions. One way to achieve this goal is to increase walking and bicycling as a means to access campus. Currently, in the central city, a cycle track on SW Broadway has increased the volume of cyclists and improved safety. The objective of our project is to examine the feasibility of developing a northbound complimentary route. Our team will study the concept and survey cyclists to understand their needs, working closely with the Portland Bureau of Transportation to propose a design that improves connectivity of the bicycle network. The expected outcome of this project will be a report that documents findings and leads to implementation.


Sustainability for ALL 
Hope Yamasaki, David Patterson,
Scott Clapson, Margaret Breithaupt, and Nichole Martin

Portland prides itself on being a national leader in sustainability. True sustainability requires all those who participate in a society to be invested and involved. A sustainable community requires equal access to services, information, and resources. Presently, a measureable disparity of allocation exists in Portland, as seen in documents like the Urban League’s “State of Black Oregon.” Building on a February 2012 event hosted by the student group Sustainability Leaders Network, this project will launch a dialog series addressing the area of social sustainability that overlaps and intersects with race.
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Portland's Water Cycle: Bioregional Literacy and Climate Change
Emily Townsend, Hannah Higgins, and Kate Williams

The water cycle is a defining element of our bioregion. It is being altered by climate change. Our project is an animated short film merging art, science, and technology to bring the local water cycle to life. Increasing student and community engagement by helping people understand the local signs and implications of climate change. This is artful project will increase connectivity and regional environmental literacy.

Research and advising will come from PSU Environmental Science and Geology advisors, an animation advisor, and local agencies such as Bureau of Environmental Services and Portland Water Bureau. From our research we will produce accurate, easy to understand narration, and work with an artist to skillfully illustrate the water cycle in a style appealing to a wide age and demographic range. Deliverables will be our researched narrative, and the final artwork presented by May, with the final animation completed in September.


Scale-Up of an Integrated Organic Waste Processing Biotechnology
Mehmet Balkan and Nicole M. Paterson

PSU annually generates a considerable amount of organic waste including food scraps and landscaping debris. Our project aims to verify the performance of a novel technology developed at PSU for processing organics produced on campus. We plan to upgrade our current lab-scale capacities by constructing an outdoor mid-scale prototype in order to collect data that will support further optimization and up-scaling. The proposed system is driven by the activity of larvae of the Black Soldier Fly (BSF) and offers several benefits over the current organic waste disposal infrastructure including reduced financial and energy costs, increased efficiency, no harmful by-products, multiple useful outputs, and embodies an overall enhanced ecological integrity. This project will extend educational opportunities on campus, in the greater Portland community. This project will deliver a functional mid-scale BSF system and plan for the next phase up-scale; distribute informational pamphlets outlining the process; and host on-site demonstrations.


Artistic Greywater System for Fieldwork 
Katherine Ball, Adam Brockman, Kirk Rea

Our proposal is to build an artistic greywater system at Field Work at Portland State University. Field Work a community classroom and art space that is collectively run by masters students in Art and Social Practice at PSU. For the last two years, the sink at Field Work has not functioned properly and empties into a bucket that is poured down the toilet when full. Our solution is to build a greywater system that will use mushrooms to filter the wastewater and plants to transpire the water into the air.

The greywater system will also double as an art piece with audio and visual elements. Visitors will be able sit surrounded by the plants and listen to sound recordings of solutions for sustainability from indigenous perspectives. The project will be built as part of a free public workshop during PSU’s Open Engagement conference.

To facilitate ongoing learning, we will also create a window display diagramming how the greywater system works, a how to guide describing how it can be replicated, and an instructional video. The greywater system will also be made available for campus sustainability tours, maps, and class field trips. Key partners include Open Engagement, Recode Oregon, and the PSU Environmental Club.


Agricultural Run-off Bioswale Research Project
Jacob Constans, Robert Nuvolini, and Jonah Horn

Agricultural land use can negatively impact the environment in a variety of ways. This project hopes to address the impacts of water quality and soil integrity from fertilizer and pesticide run-off, on and around agricultural farmlands before it reaches their local watersheds. In an effort to enhance the viability of Portland State University's (PSU) commitment to sustainability, this project focuses on local farms that provide products used for the campus' dining programs.

To achieve our goal, we will study a small tract of a local farm that provides produce to PSU dining services. We will measure water quality before and after the installation of a bioswale in an area that is directly affected by water run-off and may include excessive nutrients from fertilizer. This project will be conducted in two phases and the funding for this year's proposal will be for phase 1. In phase 2, we will construct the bioswale (in the early spring 2013) and continue to maintain the bioswale and measure water quality until the spring of 2014 to understand the full dynamics of seasonal changes in water quality during the study period.


Facilities Maintenance Treatment Wetland
Ben Deines, Andreu Ferrero, Naomi Morgan, and Nathan Clifford

A small-scale treatment wetland will be designed and constructed on campus to treat wash water from PSU’s landscaping equipment. Currently the wash water carries pollutants to a storm drain. The living wetland system will demonstrate how to manage pollution on-site while helping to restore two valuable phases of the water cycle: evapotranspiration and infiltration. The base system design has been proven to remove suspended solids, harmful nutrients, organics and oil based products from the waste wash water.

Upon successful completion of this project, students from varying backgrounds will have the opportunity to study a living wastewater treatment system right on campus. In addition, the project will demonstrate to local landscaping companies, along with government entities that perform landscaping, that treatment wetlands are within their financial means and perform valuable ecological services. 


mat [lab] pdx: An Exhibition Space for Sustainable Materials, Products, and Re-Used Art Projects
Ryan Flattery, Andrew Pulliam, and Jake Elliott

Most people outside the field of architecture are not aware of emerging sustainable materials. Additionally, material reuse is becoming commonplace in both architecture and art. With the intention of educating viewers on sustainable materials, products, and displaying material reuse projects, this project proposes the physical installation of an exhibition wall along a high-traffic hallway in Shattuck Hall. This display space, accessible to the entire University District, will be artfully constructed with salvaged and recyclable materials. It will feature a rotating exhibit of sustainable materials, products, and material re-use projects. At any given time, the display will have between 10 and 30 items with individual placards describing critical attributes and rating the items on a sustainability scale.  To achieve the above goals, the team leaders will organize two events open to the PSU campus: (1) a design charrette to create a working set of design blueprints for the exhibition wall; (2) a 2-part construction process where the exhibition wall is fabricated and assembled.  After the exhibition wall is installed, the Department of Architecture will be responsible for maintaining and rotating the display items. 


2012 FRINQ Legacy Garden
Andrea Gorman, Danielle Ali-Cassim, Keith Nevison, and Natalie Caceres

Now in it’s second year, the FRINQ Legacy Garden will take programming to a new level and continue this tradition with many Freshman Inquiry (FRINQ) classes for years to come. Our project will start by tailoring the curriculum for a spring term FRINQ class around food, sustainability, leadership, art, social responsibility, and the interconnections that exist within these topics. We will hold a series of garden work parties to prepare our plot for the season, maintain the plot and explore supplemental content during mentor sessions, take the class on a day trip to the “farm school” at Wealth Underground Farm, dedicate an afternoon of mentor sessions to cooking lessons and event planning, and harvest our garden in mid-May. Also in May we use produce from the garden to prepare and serve a community lunch in the heart of the PSU campus. Documentation of activities this year will ensure the longevity of this project and seamless transition to the 2013 team. 


Errol Heights Community Garden
Hunter E. Hess, Mackenzie Eiden, Madeline Ritter, Spenser Kuroda, and Steven Teegardin

This project is a multi-dimensional eco, and social restoration plan for the Brentwood-Darlinton neighborhood of outer southeast Portland, specifically focused on Errol Heights Park. We plan to partner with local primary schools (K-8), the neighborhood association, Portland State’s Environmental Club, Portland State’s ecological restoration guild, natural builders from the Portland State community, Portland Parks and Recreation, and Friends of Portland Community Gardens in the design and construction of the community garden that provides opportunities for continued expansion of communal programming and research. Service learning based senior Capstone projects will have the opportunity to work on this project and contribute to the research and learning at this garden. The park also holds wetlands habitat, fed by a natural spring that we hope to restore and replant with native riparian vegetation.


Bringing Farm Workers to the Sustainable Food Table at PSU
Bertha Marin, Patricia Vazquez Gomez, and Rob Duren

During National Farm Worker Awareness Week, visible resources will be situated within the Smith Memorial Student Union Food Court to educate students on the intersection between the origins of the food they are consuming and the farm workers who grow and harvest it in Oregon. These resources will highlight farm worker contributions to Oregon’s economy and food production sector, as well as the struggles and legislative gains to better working conditions, wages, housing, and other rights, primarily through the work of Oregon’s only farm worker union, PCUN.  In addition to visible resources listing important statistics and imagery highlighting stories of farm workers and farm worker families, we will collaborate with other campus organization to convene 30-minute lunch sessions at the PSU food court that create a space for more discussion and possibilities for taking action to strengthen the link between the food in our dining facilities and the rights of farm workers.


PSU Community Orchard
Keith Nevison, Jack Morrison, Kevin McWhirter, Sasikarn Paankate, Steven Teegardin, and Kirk Rea

The PSU Community Orchard is one of the newest student landscape projects on campus.  Working with the Oregon Department of Transportation as a partner, our goal is to transform a piece of vacant land adjacent to the PSU Community Garden at SW 12th Avenue and SW Montgomery Street into a thriving small fruits demonstration orchard featuring rare and exotic fruiting varieties. We are establishing the orchard using bioremediation practices that filter and cleanse the soil of toxins through the use of fungi and plants. The goal of our project is to provide students with research and experimentation opportunities to practice urban ecological restoration techniques and small-scale agriculture. Additionally, we have formed a partnership with the Portland Fruit Tree Project to harvest and disseminate fresh fruits to homeless shelters around PSU. As time goes on, the PSU Community Orchard will provide ongoing opportunities to engage in dynamic learning for students across a wide variety of disciplines.


Universal Transit Pass
Zef Wagner, Brooke Jordan, Derek Abe, Derek Dauphin and Ryan Farncomb

PSU strives to be a leader in sustainability, yet many students still drive to campus despite the wide availability of public transit. The lack of adequate alternative transportation incentives leads to higher greenhouse gas emissions and transportation costs per student. Rising enrollment and reduced funding for the incentives currently offered threaten to make this problem even worse in the future.

Our proposed solution is to increase transit ridership and lower transportation costs by instituting a universal transit pass (U-Pass) program to replace the optional Flexpass currently offered. A U-Pass would be less expensive, more convenient, and simpler to administer because costs would be spread out among all students and the pass would be sent out automatically.

Our team will research the experiences of other schools and produce a report with case studies applicable to PSU. We will work with project partners like TAPS and TriMet to develop alternative implementation strategies, and administer a survey to assess student support for each alternative. We will then choose a preferred alternative, develop a U-Pass program plan, and work to build student support to implement the plan.

2011 Solutions Generator projects