This week Portland State University (PSU) joined The Intertwine Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 organizations working to protect and improve the Portland region’s network of outdoor places and trails.
The partnership will include a paid internship with the Intertwine for Portland State students and a seat at the table for the University to collaborate with other organizations working on urban environmental issues. The Intertwine Alliance partners—private firms, public agencies, and nonprofit organizations—work together to secure funding, leverage existing investments and engage residents with the outdoors and nature. Portland State is the first university to become an Intertwine partner.
Fletcher Beaudoin, assistant director of PSU’s Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS) explains why joining the Intertwine made sense for the University, its students and the community:
Why did Portland State sign on as an Intertwine Alliance partner?
Fletcher Beaudoin: The Intertwine Alliance is working in our backyard and they’re working on nature in urban areas, which is a big intersection for Portland State’s expertise. We’re an urban-serving university and we also have tremendous expertise in ecosystem services—the value that nature provides humans and non-humans. We’ve increasingly built a collaborative relationship with the Intertwine, partnering on a variety of projects. They sit on the Cascadia Ecosystem Services Partnership advisory board, they’ve come and talked to our IGERT program, and we have a similar approach for affecting change in the world. They have a collective impact model, which is something very similar to what we use.
How does the Intertwine Alliance’s agenda complement the PSU mission?
FB: The Intertwine is very receptive to partnering with students as well as with faculty. We’ve set up an internship with them for one of our graduate students, and there will be more to come.
What will PSU bring to the table as an education partner?
FB: We offer them a unique set of resources including research and policy-relevant data about ways to preserve and restore nature in the environment around the Portland Metro region. Research and student engagement are key pieces, and PSU is also seen as a third-party convener that can collaborate with the Alliance to host important conversations that bring together a diverse set of participants to collectively work on complex issues involving nature and the urban environment.
How will the partnership benefit PSU students?
FB: The Intertwine Alliance is a coalition of more than 100 organizations. By building a tighter relationship with the Alliance, we also build a tighter relationship with those different organizations that are part of that coalition. Through those relationships, we can better understand what employers need from students in the sustainability field and we can work to provide the key skills and knowledge to prepare students for those jobs. We can also help uncover those employment opportunities for students and graduates by working with the Alliance.
What role will the Institute for Sustainable Solutions play in this partnership?
FB: ISS is the hub for sustainability at PSU—we’re the clearinghouse for a lot of activity going on around research, education and community engagement with regards to sustainability. ISS becomes a one-stop shop for the Intertwine Alliance to build partnerships across the University.