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When it comes to closing a gap, students at the University of Oregon may be the solution.  The “40-mile Loop,” originally proposed for Portland by John Charles Olmsted in 1903, envisioned identifying open park space and linking it to greenways and boulevards to create a publicly accessible trail.  Some parts of this trail were created in the early 1900’s, but progress was stalled during the onset of WWII and the Great Depression. 

Five years ago, the Sustainable Cities Initiative (SCI) developed its groundbreaking model for linking the sustainability projects of an Oregon city to existing student class work at the UO.

Now the Sustainable City Year Program model (SCYP) is being replicated at 18 universities across the country, and the National Institute for Transportation and Communities (NITC) has awarded SCI a grant to implement the model in even more communities.

Laurie Phillips’ private sector work and social sustainability research made her an outstanding candidate to lead students in a City of Medford public relations campaign during this year’s Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP). A new Assistant Professor in Public Relations, Phillips joined the University of Oregon in the fall of 2013 after managing public relations for Fortune 500 companies, nonprofit organizations and media outlets.

The six-foot model of Medford with moveable wood blocks depicting buildings might evoke memories of kindergarten. But Gerardo Sandoval and James Rojas use the model as a tool for conducting public outreach because it allows residents to interact with their city in a personal way, which helps planners gain insight to changes people want in their neighborhoods.