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2013 Solutions Generator

Fourteen student teams were selected for funding though the 2013 Solutions Generator program. Each team was awarded up to $1,500 for project expenses, and all student participants had the option of earning additional funding by participating in a sustainably leadership workshop series throughout the winter and spring terms.

2013 Projects

Sustainability and the Undergraduate Experience Focus Groups

Team members: Will Wright, April Murazzo, Jane Carr, Laura Kutner
Faculty mentors: Angela Hamilton, Institute for Sustainable Solutions; Amy Spring, Center for Academic Excellence

Portland State University’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions is engaging in an initiative to incorporate sustainability into every aspect of the undergraduate experience. This initiative is currently challenged by limited knowledge about the existing student experience and understanding of sustainability. This project will not only provide that baseline information, but will establish a repeatable process for including student voice in the Sustainability and the Undergraduate Experience Initiative. Through a series of 10-20 student-run focus groups drawing from a diverse cross-section of the student body, this project will identify current levels of sustainability literacy, areas where students see PSU’s sustainability efforts, and areas where they feel interventions could be useful and effective. Through various roles including facilitators, note-takers, recruiters, and data analysts, students of all levels will have opportunities to participate and gain a deeper understanding of facilitation, social science research, and sustainability. The final products of this project will be a report presented to ISS and other SUGE stakeholders and a detailed template which will allow this process to be replicated in the future. Resources permitting, an additional outcome will be a survey which can be administered to a larger cross-section of students, providing supplemental data.


Bringing Farmworker Awareness to the Sustainable Food Table at PSU

Team members: Rob Duren, Kelsey Hoffman, Anabel Lopez-Salinas, Joe Bennett, Rosie Zuriaga
Faculty mentor: Jack Corbett, Public Affairs 

Now in its second year, we seek to develop and implement Farmworker Awareness Week at PSU. Throughout the week we will educate students on the intersection between the origins of the food they are consuming and the farmworkers who grow and harvest it. We will accomplish this by developing an interactive display in the SMSU dining area, holding panels and round-table discussions, touring labor camps, and holding a service-learning day with CAPACES Leadership Institute. The events and resources provided will highlight farmworker contributions to Oregon’s economy and food production sector, as well as the struggles and legislative gains to obtain better working conditions, wage, housing, and other fundamental human rights. While raising farmworker awareness is inherently a social issue, we will also highlight the environmental and economic sustainability issues associated with farmworkers rights and hope to provide holistic solutions to a complex issue. By highlighting the human aspect of local and organic food production, resources and events will contribute to efforts already bring implemented at PSU to establish more sustainable food practices and they will also contribute to university wide sustainability goals that integrate social, environmental and economic needs in our communities as key elements in the development of sustainable practices.


The Greenest Places: Sustainable Historic Preservation in Old Havana and Portland

Team members: Clarke Leland, Liz Paterson, Derek Dauphin, Katie Hughes, Lina Menard, Verónica Bradford
Faculty Mentor: Veronica Dujon, Sociology

Cities around the world seek development that meets the triple bottom line of environmental, social, and economic sustainability. Reusing existing buildings fosters economic development sustainably, while reinvigorating communities. Portland is a green building leader, but has much to learn about fostering social sustainability through redevelopment. Havana, Cuba is a world leader in this area. Our team of filmmakers and urban planning graduate students will travel to Havana during Winter Quarter and produce a documentary about innovations in sustainable redevelopment there and how they compare with Portland. The goal is constructive dialogue about what Portland can do better and where we should build on successes. It is essential to present the film to the community of planners, policymakers, and non-profit staff who shape practices in Portland. Funds will be used to host a seminar series during Spring Quarter around themes in our documentary. At each seminar we will present a chapter of the film, have guest speakers, and discussions with professionals, faculty, and students. We will work with the Historic Preservation League of Oregon and the State Historic Preservation Office to ensure the series is exciting and relevant. Assessment will be through comment cards at events and following up with attendees.

Learn more about this project at The Museum of the City » 


Reinforcing Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Resources

Team members: Landru Parker, Edward Robinson, Hayley Heynderickx, Megan Odell, Samantha McKeever-Holtzman, Connie Ng 
Faculty mentorChris North, Graphic Design 

The basis of this project is for our project team to act as a student advertising agency for a specific few sustainability organizations on campus. These organizations include Campus Sustainability Office, PSU Recycles!, and Take Back the Trash. What these organizations all have in common is that they offer services that relate to the ideology of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle. Our project goal is to raise awareness regarding the services our clients offer by means of an advertising campaign. 

For pre-assessment, we will survey a sample of the student population to gauge current awareness regarding relevant sustainability services. Then, using the data we collect and by working with our clients, we will begin developing the individual requested deliverables. For example, our deliverables include signage for Chuck It for Charity, All in the Hall, Hydration Stations, The ReUse Room, and a branding campaign for Take Back The Trash that involves a pixel art installation made from recycled bottle caps. 

Due to the fact that these three groups offer similar services, we plan on making their branding as cohesive as possible. We plan on this helping to address the lack of student awareness regarding the many sustainability services our clients provide.


Global Collaborative Network Launch

Team members: Brent Bellamy, James Narron, Pravin Mallavaram, Tim Orr, Alyssa McClean, Clarissa Heger
Faculty mentor: Marcus Ingle, Public Administration

Following the principles of EMERGE (Public Leadership for Sustainable Development), the Global Collaborative Network (GCN) seeks to actively work to expand the availability of meaningful international public service engagements for students, assist students in planning and executing an international public service project, and strengthen the international network of public, private, and nonprofit sector partnerships at PSU. Unfortunately the network has not been managed or updated for several years. We strongly believe that the GCN is a much-needed link between students and sustainable leadership opportunities and we want to bring new life to a program that has a lot of unseen potential. This solution will develop a sustainable system of management for the GCN, as well as put on a job fair style event that will promote awareness of the GCN and student opportunities that involve leadership for sustainability. At the end of the 2012/2013 academic year the GCN will have increased participation, and there will be more awareness about international sustainable leadership opportunities for students. The tangibles will include a promotional event, an updated website, a comprehensive Linkedin page, as well as a new management system that will ensure that the GCN continues to operate at full capacity.


Cully Tribal Gathering Garden Project

Team members: Jeanette Newman, Ridhi D’Cruz, Kirk Rea, Isabel LaCourse, Cary Watters
Faculty mentors: Judy Bluehorse-Skelton, David E. Hall, Jon Brown, Harrell Fletcher

This projects seeks to integrate indigenous perspective with mainstream sustainably and policy on campus and in the community. The goal of this project is to create more opportunities for PSU students to engage with the Cully Tribal Gathering Garden project by hosting two events at the PSU Native American Student and Community Center for active dialog between city government organizations and the community, by hosting trainings for youth and student community to do project outreach, and by creating physical and online publicity packages to allow for more information access. 


Agricultural Run-off Bioswale Research Project: Phase II

Team members: Robert Nuvolini, Amira El-Cherbini, Jake Constans, Jonah Horn, Thomas Langston
Faculty mentor: Heejun Chang, Geography

Our project looks to contribute to healthy watersheds by reducing nutrient-rich runoff from agricultural fertilizers that cause negative impacts to aquatic ecosystems, a process known as eutrophication. In Phase I we secured a site at a local farm that supplies produce to PSU dining services, staked out an area that receives runoff from the farmland, collected water samples that were submitted for analysis, and created a sign for the property explaining the project's goals to the farm's visitors. In the time between Phase I and now, we have framed the bioswale with logs, spread seeds in the channel, laid coconut fiber matting within the frame, and planted native shrubs along the sides. In Phase II of our project we will build on our efforts by anchoring the frame and incorporating native vegetation throughout the channel. Water sampling and analyses will be conducted in order to evaluate the effect of the bioswale on water quality, and to make comparative analyses with samples in the future.

Clean Water Services has provided valuable insight and suggestions for our project and will be a key partner moving forward. Baggenstos Farms is also an ongoing partner, as is OSU’s Cooperative Chemical Analytical Laboratory.


Cramer Hall Eco-Roof Monitoring

Team members: Justin Willard, Leland Scantlebury, Leslie Riley, Austin Hudson, Theophilus Malone
Faculty mentor: Tom Szymoniak, Civil Engineering


Our project aims to collect data regarding the effect of substrate type on hydrologic performance of vegetated roofs (ecoroofs) in Portland, while providing opportunities for undergraduate students to develop and implement independent research. Ecoroofs reduce stormwater runoff and peak flows by providing water storage in the ecoroof substrate. If we can measure the substrate characteristics, hydrologic performance, and water quality of runoff from various substrate types, we will be better able to make informed decisions about the best substrates to use in ecoroofs. Phase One of our project will install soil moisture monitoring equipment and gather weather data and plant performance data from the recently-constructed Cramer Hall Ecoroof. The Cramer Hall Ecoroof consists of individual boxes with varying substrate type/plant species combinations, providing a unique opportunity to gather a large amount of performance data in one place. Future phases of the project, to be implemented this summer and fall, will incorporate continuous measurements of ecoroof runoff and water quality sampling. 



Bridges to Prosperity: Interactive Workshops

Team members: Jacob Coppola, Erin Jensen, Nick Ryan
Faculty mentor: Evan Thomas, Mechanical Engineering

Our project is to partner with Portland Public Schools to hold 4 interactive workshops for classes of high school students. Our group consists of members of the PSU chapter of Bridges to Prosperity, and the workshops would be held yearly as part of our annual chapter events. The goals for the workshops are: Encourage students to pursue volunteer and service learning opportunities by highlighting humanity’s interconnection and the individual’s capacity to effect change. Convey the importance of civil engagement by learning about pressing global and local issues. Make clear the connection between education, social engagement, and positive change. Provide a fun and engaging space for students to experience education designed in accordance with sustainable pedagogy.


Use of Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) Framework to Identify Multicultural Sustainability via Community Gardening

Team members: Dana Peters, Ryan Bender, Summer Newell
Faculty mentor: Eileen Brennan, Social Work

Our project uses a Community Based Participatory Research (CBPR) interdisciplinary approach to strengthen community collaboration with two multicultural communities within the Portland metropolitan area. Village Gardens Project in North Portland, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in Cornelius, along with the Community Capacitation Center support a student led qualitative exploratory research project to identify community priorities for the use of community gardens. Both communities are composed of low-income, culturally diverse residents who experience food scarcity due to limited financial resources, transportation, and access to healthy foods.

In partnership with Community Health Workers (CHWs) and community leaders, we will use popular education to identify community priorities to address social and health disparities. Growing out of meetings with the community, we will host two local events, where community members will participate in popular education modalities. These focus groups will empower community members and build local leadership to promote healthy behavior. Our research team will document the collective ideas and engage in community feedback about their generated priorities, before composing and disseminating a final report. Reports will be distributed to the participating communities and partners for use in future proposals to implement the identified community driven solutions, and will be shared with the PSU community.


Diversity Action Stations

Team members: Kevin Thomas, Shilo George, Kirk Rea
Faculty mentor: Cornel Pewewardy, Indigenous Nations Studies

In this age of greater sustainability consciousness, Social Sustainability is still often overlooked. Quality of life issues can directly impact a student’s ability to succeed on campus. PSU has proposed a draft Diversity Action Plan (DAP) in the belief that greater diversity helps establish Social Sustainability. Unfortunately, the DAP included no working definition of diversity. Defining diversity is a difficult but necessary task to achieve a functional DAP to help create an environment where we can better understand the social dimension of sustainability. Inclusivity is critical to this, but how do we achieve this?

I recommend a series of portable colorful Diversity Action Stations (DAS) be placed around campus. A DAS would be constructed from repurposed wood and have the look of a basic ballot box but with a cultural diversity message painted on it. Each DAS would be equipped with “Diversity Suggestion Cards” that would be completed by members of the community, collected, and used to influence diversity policies.

The DAS would complete two tasks at once, inform the community about diversity at PSU and inform the administration of community concerns. The healthy reward of connecting people to place and developing equity could be achieved for very little cost.


Pennies on the Dollar

Team members: Adam R. Lutz, Kelia Smith, Austin Averett, Kelli Kuhlman, Ryan Palmerton, Tyler Smith
Faculty mentor: William B. Fischer

Pennies on the Dollar (PotD) addresses the act of educating our communities in "voluntary simplicity," a concept presented originally by Henry David Thoreau in the mid 19th century. In the newly revised version of Duane Elgin's Voluntary Simplicity, Elgin states that “simplicity is not an alternative lifestyle for a marginal few. It is a creative choice for the mainstream majority, particularly in developed nations.” We believe that by educating our communities through real life scenarios, in which an individual, and/or communities, have succeeded in actualizing a practical voluntary simplistic lifestyle, we can motivate and encourage ecological growth.

By working in cooperation with local community based organizations and movements, such as Mono-Stream Media, In Search of the Sea, the Northwest Earth Institute, and possibly Oregon Public Broadcasting, PotD strives to reach as many individuals as possible through an educational documentary. Making voluntary simplicity not just an ideal, but a reality.


Placemaking at the PSU Native American Student and Community Center

Team members: Jeanette Newman, Henry Polacek, Steven Teegardin, Isabel LaCourse, Kirk Rea, Ridhi D'Cruz
Faculty mentor: Judy Bluehorse Skelton

Diversity within the environmental sphere of sustainability has long been recognized as an indicator of healthy, resilient, ecological communities. We are proposing a focus on cultural sustainability by extending this (healthy) diversity into the social and cultural sphere by integrating Native American culture within the sustainability movement. This, we argue, is a symbol of socio-ecological restoration of both urban postcolonial Native American communities and urban postcolonial ecological communities through cultural revitalization.  This cultural revitalization will create much needed opportunities for celebrating and strengthening the scope of Native American cultural and ecological knowledge to reconnect people to place using the transformative capacity of art and interactive outdoor education. 

The project will therefore address a multitude of needs including opportunities for: a celebration of Native American art and connection to place (cultural revitalization through transformative art); an active restoration of both the ecology (ecological restoration) using local ecological knowledge-based practices (social restoration and education); and more access points for Native youth into the higher education system (interactive outdoor education and socio-ecological restoration)

We hope to accomplish the above by installing a 5-6 foot welcome pole and a 40-50 foot living fence on the currently grassy shoulder of the overpass landbridge close to the PSU Native American Student and Community Center (NASCC) by actively strengthening government partnerships with students.


Connecting Students to PSU Farmers Market

Team members: Joan Schoepfer, Joe Bennett, Abigail Warren, Anthony Stine, Scott Clapson
Faculty mentor: Betty Izumi, Community Health

This project will make a stronger connection between vendors at the PSU Farmer’s Market and PSU students. Students often make unhealthy unsustainable food choices based on cost and availability. The PSU Farmers Market provides fresh, local, and sustainable food weekly at PSU. However, many students are unaware of the market and the vendors’ small scale makes it difficult to directly service the University. Therefore, fresh, local, and sustainable food options on the PSU campus are underutilized by students.

Many PSU students have low incomes further limiting choices. Vendors at the Market cannot compete with large, unsustainable corporate farms on cost. Students often choose less nutritious, less sustainable options at the grocery store based on cost alone. Students who obtain food through SNAP or the PSU Food Pantry may have little or no access to fresh, local, and sustainable food.

We will focus on three activities: implementing a direct connection between Market vendors and the PSU Food Pantry; staging a student awareness event at the PSU Farmer’s Market; and producing and distributing a vendor information packet helping vendors market to PSU.


View the 2013 Call for Solutions »