Two Portland State students are advancing a local nonprofit’s efforts to build green neighborhoods in Portland and across North America.
The Portland Sustainability Institute (PoSI), which developed the framework for Portland’s five pilot EcoDistricts—neighborhoods committed to comprehensive sustainability goals—recently hired the two student interns to spur sustainable local policy and planning as a model for other green-city initiatives.
The internships were coordinated through the PSU Careers in Sustainability program and funded by the Institute for Sustainable Solutions (ISS).
The students aren’t just answering phones—they bring a wealth of past experience to their positions. Eugenio Arriaga Cordero, an urban studies doctoral student, is studying how public policies can foster healthy neighborhoods and improve quality of life. He is working to organize public officials, community leaders, university researchers and local business owners to find collaborative solutions to urban problems.
“Having multiple organizations, like ISS and PoSI, working together allows us to do research that’s more relevant to the city,” Arriaga said.
PoSI holds an annual EcoDistrict Summit at PSU to showcase neighborhood-scale sustainability to an international audience. This May, they will host the first EcoDistrict Institute, which will bring together select teams from up to 10 North American cities to plan EcoDistrict pilots in those cities.
Aaron Lande, an urban and regional planning graduate student, is using his experience working for the U.S. Green Building Council to help PoSI plan and coordinate this conference.
“We’re tying together politics with business leaders, community officials and communication teams—because we need all those things working together to succeed,” Lande said. “It’ll be interesting to see if the way I think it should work really works.”
This year, fifteen paid internships have been offered through PSU’s Careers in Sustainability program, with organizations such as Ecotrust, the City of Portland and Sustainable Northwest. The organizations benefit from skilled PSU students who are putting their classroom learning into practice, and the University benefits from stronger partnerships with local efforts to build a more livable future.