Community Spotlight: Q&A with Julia Michel

Who are you?

My name is Julia Michel, and I am the GIS and planning analyst for PSU’s campus planning office. I received my urban studies and planning bachelor’s degree at San Francisco State University and just last year completed the MURP program here at PSU.

What are you working on now?

I hop on a lot of different projects which is the great perk of this position. At the moment, I really enjoy providing map and data collection support to various student projects that aim to explore the different facets, opportunities and challenges of our campus’s physical space. I am happy to help faculty and students in any way or form since they are the ones helping us better understand the campus’s needs and what assets should be maintained and highlighted.

What’s the one thing you want the sustainability community to know about what you’re doing?

My team at campus planning makes a point to work closely with everyone, especially the folks at the campus sustainability office. Every time they need help with a project, we are there to support them in any way. Every time we begin efforts on any campus related plans, we ask for their advice and direction to ensure that sustainability issues are addressed. It’s a great collaboration.

What sustainability issues are you most concerned with?

Implementing long range plans that help create or maintain sustainable environments and communities isn’t easy but it’s incredibly necessary. They allow us to foresee and mitigate expected and unexpected future predicaments. What really concerns me is that sometimes we don’t look far enough ahead. We rely too often on short-term solutions but sometimes understandably so! If situations are dire, then we need quick relief. I think my point is that our reality can sometimes boil down to ‘out of sight, out of mind’. When we as individuals don’t feel the negative effects instantly, we don’t worry about them as much and ultimately focus little attention on the issue. Unfortunately, this can cause for plans that can address these negative effects to fall by the wayside. Also, autonomous cars. I can’t even wrap my head around the numerous ways autonomous vehicles will create so many more roadblocks (pun intended) to achieving our sustainability goals.

Recommend any resources for suggested reading for sustainability professionals?

I love checking in on CityLab. You can find a ton of interesting articles related to cities and planning that touch on various topics and often explore today’s ideas of sustainable solutions across the world. There’s also a lot of value in reading up and following local efforts. Environmental justice groups, such as OPAL in Portland, are great at creating and supporting local sustainable solutions and calling out and fighting against unsustainable policies and practices that affect vulnerable populations the most.

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