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Student News 2013

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Field Projects Team Receives APA Award
December 16, 2013
This December a Tufts UEP Field Projects team received the Massachusetts Chapter of the American Planning Association's student project award. At APA-MA's December 13 annual Awards and Holiday Luncheon (from left): Advisor Penn Loh, and team members Ian Jakus, Tida Infahsaeng and Valerie Oorthuys. A fourth member of the UEP team, Denise Chin, was not able to attend. The group worked with the Trust for Public Land, the city of Boston and others to assess the suitability of vacant land in Boston for ground-level urban agriculture. Review their report, "Urban Farming in Boston: A Survey of Opportunities."

American Planning Association selects UEP Project for award
December 10, 2013
The American Planning Association - Massachusetts Chapter (APA-MA) Awards Committee recently selected the Urban Farming in Boston: A Survey Of Opportunities to receive a Student Project Award this year. This outstanding student project was completed for a client, The Trust for Public Land, as part of the spring 2013 Field Projects course and is now in the running for a national award from APA. Congratulations to UEP students Tida Infahsaeng, Ian Jakus, Denise Chin, Valerie Oorthuys, and to faculty advisors Rusty Russell, Penn Loh and Justin Hollander.

Rebecca Schofield Wins "Welcoming Communities" Student Ideas Competition
November 29, 2013
Rebecca Schofield, a second year UEP student, was recently named the winner of the Welcoming Communities Student Ideas competition, sponsored by the Expanding Opportunities Committee (EOC) of the Commonwealth Housing Task Force (CHTF). The competition was designed to generate ideas from students about how to make communities in Massachusetts more welcoming to people of color, people of low-income, and people with disabilities.

"Becca has previously done research on fair housing issues and tenants’ rights and on models for preserving affordable housing and empowering residents. Her proposal involves developing a framework for examining the housing needs and interests of certain protected classes in Massachusetts' small multifamily rental housing and how they compare to the interests of others in the housing field including private owners, developers, CDCs, CDFIs, and policymakers. She will use the framework to identify the differences and similarities between the rights, obligations, resources, and core interests of stakeholders in the small multifamily rental market. This framework will inform an evaluation of effective models of resident control of housing that have been successful in protecting low income populations in different communities."

Laura Jasinski - The Greenway Carousel
November 26, 2013
For the past three years Laura has worked as a Project Manager for the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy working to plan, construct, open and operate the new Greenway Carousel. More information and links to press articles can be found on our website.

The Greenway Carousel is located in a highly visible and heavily trafficked area on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, a 1.5-mile linear park atop the I-93 tunnel in downtown Boston. Specifically, the carousel sits between the Armenian Heritage Park to the north and the Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion to the south and across from Fanueil Hall and Christopher Columbus Park. The carousel itself is set in a grove of trees and surrounded by native planting beds. Like the rest of the Greenway, the horticulture is maintained organically.

This one-of-a-kind carousel features 14 different animals native to the land, sea, and air of Massachusetts. Each of the characters was inspired by the imaginations and drawings of Boston public school children. The directive to involve Boston's children in the planning and design of the carousel came from the lead donor early on in the planning process. One of her first roles on the project was to find a meaningful way to incorporate their feedback. To do so, she led design workshops in four different elementary schools in the Back Bay, North End, South Boston and Dorchester. In each workshop students were asked to brainstorm and draw characters on index cards that they thought would best represent Boston on this unique carousel. Each student presented their favorite drawing to the group before adding it to a model carousel built for their workshop (see attached photo). Designs included turtles and harbor seals as seen at the New England Aquarium, as well as falcons similar to those nesting at the top of Boston's Old State House. From over 175 drawings, the Conservancy carefully selected a representative group of characters recognizable in the land, sea, and air of Boston. Each character selected was brought to life by Newburyport Massachusetts based sculptor Jeff Briggs. He studied the drawings as well as the hundreds of photos of all of the animals selected to make sure the final products looked life-like as the swoop, soar and swim around the carousel.

In addition to running children's design workshops, her participation included fundraising, grant writing and donor relations; preparing and presenting community meetings; landscape design review and feedback; working with the Institute for Human Centered Design to ensure that the carousel was accessible to the largest audience possible, general contractor procurement, construction site management and coordination of multiple contractors; drafting an RFP for a carousel operator and vetting respondents in interviews; organizing and executing a week of opening events and finally on-going management of operations. She has had a hand in every aspect of this project from conception to operation.

White House Leadership Summit on Women, Climate and Energy
June 14, 2013
By: Katie Walsh

After an incredible week of EDF Climate Corps Training last month, I had the opportunity to speak at the White House for an inaugural one-day summit on Women, Climate and Energy organized by the U.S. Department of Energy and the White House Office of Public Engagement.

I joined a distinguished group of 100 women from business, research, government and the nonprofit sector to discuss our work in climate and energy. I provided the closing address highlighting the need to bridge silos by opening up our climate change 'narratives' to better engage diverse audiences as well as use tactics that push the envelope on climate change action.

Debating Solutions – Not Science
Newly appointed Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz opened the summit with a statement that I couldn’t agree with more: "I'm not here to debate the undebatable; climate change is real and urgent and science demands a prudent response. Now the question is: what are the solutions? This is the legitimate debate; let’s debate the solutions, as opposed to the drivers." On top of the list of solutions he noted the Obama Administration working on is energy efficiency – in buildings, appliances, vehicles and the industrial sector. Efficiency gains provide win-win solutions. An example is the more than $2 trillion dollars to be saved from appliance standards revisions along with the associated carbon emission reductions.

Dr. Kathy Sullivan, Acting Administrator of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration noted the implications of the U.S. experiencing the second-highest amount of extreme weather on record in 2012. We were reminded of the recent readings taken at the Mauna Loa Observatory in Hawaii which found that the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere had passed 400 parts per million. Though this number has significant meaning as a number that represents a genuine threat to civilization, it barely created a ripple in mass media when it was announced in mid-May 2013.

Taking Action
Heather Zichal, the White House's top aide on energy and climate issues spoke about the successes of Obama’s first term – the improvement of vehicle fuel economy standards and changes in the mercury and toxic pollution standards for power plants. When asked by an audience member on what steps we could all take – Ms. Zichal responded that most immediately we need to ensure that Gina McCarthy, UEP alum who is Obama's pick to head the Environmental Protection Agency, and makes it through the nomination process.

With the challenges laid out before us – extreme weather, the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and inaction by Congress, attention turned to solutions that we are taking in our states, cities and communities. Cecilia Estolano spoke about the need to mobilize low-income and communities of color – without them, she said we cannot expect broad-based support for climate change legislation or solutions. She spoke about the importance of empowering communities by conducting and providing them with vulnerability assessments. Communities need to be aware of their vulnerability "as a tool to be able to map out how to become more resilient." Reverend Sally Bingham of the Regeneration Project also discussed the role that religious organizations and institutions can take for preservation and mobilizing their congregations to action.

Results and Next Steps
Afternoon breakouts were focused on education, workplace and community with more than 20 women gathered in each session to discuss steps that they have implemented and challenges that might be overcome through collaboration. In the report back from the sessions, suggestions were made to form working groups, to create policy recommendations from ‘the 100 women of the White House Summit on Climate and Energy’ and to advocate such steps as opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline. Lead organizer of the summit, Heidi Vangenderen, said that the White House intended to convene the summit again next year.

Overall, my sense is that the summit achieved the goals that the organizers set out for it – to put the right people in the room to find areas of intersection in our work in climate and energy. I was pleased by the representation of leaders in environmental justice but found there to be an acute lack of private sector leadership. Engaging in dialogue with the oil and gas sector in particular would have been valuable as they are key players in making any headway in climate change action. While it was uplifting to hear the diversity of solutions initiated at the state and city level to show the way forward on climate, we must not forget the need to engage in broad-based actions to raise the visibility and urgency of the climate crises. Climate change disrupts any notion of business as usual, and we need tactics that are equally disruptive – to shift power and take action to dramatically reduce our dependence on fossil fuels.

Watch the video >

Katie Walsh recently graduated with dual master's degrees from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy and the Tufts Urban Environmental Policy and Planning School. She will spend summer 2013 as an Environmental Defense Fund Climate Corps fellow with the City of Philadelphia.

UEP student wins prestigious APA award
April 9, 2013
Natalia Collarte, a second year UEP student, won the APA-TPD Student Paper Competition 2013. The Competition sponsored by the American Planning Association (APA) Transportation Planning Division (TPD) recognizes and rewards two outstanding student papers on current transportation planning or policy issues. This year’s winners are Tufts University in first place and Harvard University in second.

Her paper titled The Woonerf Concept: Rethinking a Residential Street in Somerville, analyzes the woonerf's benefits and design principles to explore the feasibility of designing a woonerf on a residential street in Somerville, Massachusetts. The aim of her study is to illustrate how a residential street can be retrofitted with the woonerf concept, and to provide a cost estimate for its implementation.

A woonerf is a residential street in which pedestrians have priority over cars. The street is designed without a clear division between pedestrian and auto space, forcing motorists to slow down and travel with caution. Limiting vehicular speed not only improves residents' feelings of safety, but also promotes greater use of the public space for people to live and play.

For the study, a segment of Hudson Street in Somerville is selected. Two different options are proposed. The first option transforms the street completely into a woonerf by eliminating the continuous curb and incorporating traffic calming measures, while the second option provides traffic calming elements, but only converts one segment of the street into a shared-space. Both options show that it is possible to re-think a residential street's design using the woonerf's principles. The study estimates that option one would cost $915,431, while option two would cost around $252,315. Since implementation costs are expensive, the study also suggests what should be considered and evaluated before retrofitting a residential street into a woonerf.

Natalia's national APA award will be announced at the APA National Conference in Chicago, Illinois on April 13-17, 2013. In addition, her winning transportation paper (or summary) will be published in the TPD's quarterly newsletter. The TPD may also submit the full version of the paper for peer review and possible presentation at the Annual Meeting of the Transportation Research Board and for publication in APA's Planning Magazine.

2011 Green Line field projects report featured in APA's Planning Advisory Service
January 22, 2013
A 2011 UEP Field Project report "Land Use Planning Along the Green Line Extension in Somerville" was cited in an answer of the Inquiry Answer Service, part of the American Planning Association's Planning Advisory Service, in January 2013.

The field projects team who wrote the report in 2011 were:
Caitlan Dolan (now Caitlan Dolan-Robillard)
Gabriel Holbrow
Amara Nwosu
Andrew Wagoner

The Inquiry Answer Service reply that cited the report is responding to the question:
What are some town-gown strategies for better communication and collaboration with our local university?

Our report and the community workshops that we led about planning for the Green Line are cited as a good example of collaboration between a university (Tufts) and community groups (Somerville Community Corportation and Groundwork Somerville).

The APA's reply is currently available on to anyone on the APA website at the following link, until they replace this page with the next reply, likely sometime in February. Learn more >

After the January reply is no longer at the main "youasked" page, it will be permanently available at the following link, although you need to log in with an APA membership to view it. Learn more >