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Urban Sustainability

Class hits the road in study of Northwest Superfund sites

This spring Melanie Malone, Diana Denham and Mary Ann Rozance, PhD students from PSU's IGERT program—a National Science Foundation-funded interdisciplinary program focused on studying ecosystem services for urbanizing regions—offered a unique interdisciplinary course on urban rivers.

Community Spotlight: Q&A with Olyssa Starry

Olyssa Starry is an assistant professor of urban ecology at the Portland State University Honors College working on several research projects with students right now that all use greenroofs as model systems for understanding urban ecology.

Grant writing for a more livable Lents: A senior capstone experience

This past winter term, I finished my senior capstone in Celine Fitzmaurice’s Grant Writing for Environmental Advocacy. Over the course of the term, students in the class delved into the intricacies of the grant writing process, from finding a suitable funder, to working with the grant-seeking organization to refine its concept of the community need it seeks to meet, to assembling a thorough and complete grant proposal.

Transforming PSU's new Backyard

During fall term, students in Adjunct Professor Chris North’s Community Design Seminar (ART 471) were hard at work re-envisioning a vacant lot as a new “backyard” for Portland State University. 

Urban Sustainability Accelerator hosts Sacramento leaders on big day for transit in Portland

In September, PSU’s Urban Sustainability Accelerator (USA) led a transit and redevelopment tour for a delegation of leaders from Sacramento, in town to observe how Portland celebrates transit grand openings such as the MAX Orange Line, and to learn more about the growth of rail transit in the region, public engagement efforts, and redevelopment along transit corridors.  

The Learning Gardens Lab turns 10

The Learning Gardens Lab, a four-acre educational garden in southeast Portland operated through a partnership between Portland State, Portland Public Schools, the city of Portland, and Oregon State University’s Extension Service is celebrating its 10th birthday this year. That’s a decade of supporting academic achievement, leadership development, and local sustainable food systems by providing multicultural, interdisciplinary, intergenerational, and experiential garden-based education for public school students and their families, university students, and community members.

PSU’s Urban Sustainability Accelerator convenes leaders from cities across the U.S.

Over the summer, 25 representatives from urban areas across the U.S. converged in Portland for the annual convening of the Urban Sustainability Accelerator (USA) program. For three days, from July 9 to 11, they visited model sustainability projects, consulted with local experts, shared ideas with each other, and sampled Portland’s eclectic mix of food carts and restaurants featuring local, sustainable fare.

Museum of the City: Help us publish PSU student research

The Museum of the City (, a nonprofit virtual museum that offers students and other scholars an opportunity to publish their research on urban topics, is raising money with a crowdfunding campaign to help cover staff and technology expenses.

Goats, alleys, and stealth sustainability

Portlanders love goats. Developers have figured this out and are naming a huge east side building project after the beloved goats—who of course have their own website—that used to hang out on the formerly vacant lot. 

Sacramento city officials visit Portland to learn about sustainable housing development

In April, PSU’s Urban Sustainability Accelerator (USA) led a daylong housing tour of central Portland for a delegation of officials from California’s capital, Sacramento. The visitors—including a representative from the Mayor’s Office and senior staff from Sacramento’s Housing and Redevelopment Agency, Community Development Department, and Planning Division—came to Portland seeking innovative ideas to help Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson implement his bold initiative to create 10,000 housing units in downtown Sacramento in the next 10 years.