Edmonds Signs on as Inaugural City to Western's Sustainable Cities Partnership

Western Washington University students and faculty will be helping the city of Edmonds on a range of projects – from developing a mobile app for downtown visitors to using GIS to help management of the city cemetery – during the 2016-2017 academic year.

On Tuesday evening, July 19, the Edmonds City Council unanimously approved an interlocal agreement with Western to become the first city in the state of Washington to participate in the Sustainable Cities Partnership, a joint endeavor of Edmonds, Western, and the Association of Washington Cities (AWC) to focus student energy and ideas on a variety of city issues and challenges oriented toward sustainability.  

“When I learned about this possibility, it just sounded like a terrific program to match ideas coming out of Western with our city’s needs,” said Edmonds Mayor Dave Earling.

The partnership also advances Western’s institutional goal of applying its academic expertise in ways that strengthen communities beyond the campus.

“Western’s mission is to give our students the best education possible and to serve the needs of the state. Programs such as this that help cities meet their goals and give students the chance to solve real problems help us fulfill that mission,” said Brian Burton, associate vice president for Academic Affairs at Western.

AWC and Western launched the Sustainable Cities Partnership based on a successful model pioneered at the University of Oregon seven years ago, now replicated in dozens of sites around the country.  The partnership pairs students and faculty together with cities to work on city-defined projects.

“Cities throughout Washington strive to improve sustainability and resiliency in their communities,” said AWC CEO Peter B. King. “This partnership is a great step forward in providing cities with tools to help plan for the future.”

Edmonds was selected as the inaugural partner after a competitive process. During the 2016-2017 academic year, students and faculty will tackle 11 projects that include:

  • Reduction of stormwater impacts upon the Edmonds Marsh;
  • Help develop the fledgling “Green Business Pledge” program in Edmonds;
  • Development of a mobile app to make visitors aware of amenities in downtown Edmonds;
  • Evaluating available methods of dealing with construction waste and food waste;
  • Analyzing the likely impacts of sea-level rise upon the Edmonds shoreline.

 The full range of courses and projects can be seen at the Sustainable Cities Partnership website.

Earling is especially interested in a public relations project that will help the city promote a downtown cultural/arts corridor. “We have a robust arts community. Now we need to figure out ways to enhance the corridor.”

Earling also noted one of the most challenging projects will use GIS to modernize management of the Edmonds Memorial Cemetery. “I think it will be really interesting to see the approach and the end results.”

Both AWC and Western see a solid future for the Sustainable Cities Partnership as additional cities participate.

“We are pleased to partner with Western and Edmonds on this project. The partnership is a strong building block for communities that want to make sustainable futures a reality,” added King.

The Association of Washington Cities serves its members through advocacy, education  and services. Founded in 1933, AWC is a private, nonprofit, nonpartisan corporation that represents Washington's cities and towns before the state legislature, the state executive branch and with regulatory agencies. AWC also provides training, data and resources, and programs such as Employee Benefit Trust, Risk Management Service Agency, Workers’ Compensation Retrospective Rating Program, and Drug & Alcohol Consortium.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016 - 10:44am