UW chooses City of Auburn as a pilot-year partner for its Livable City Year Program

UW pre-selects the City of Auburn to be a pilot-year partner for year-long Livable City program

The University of Washington is creating a Livable City Year Program to forge partnerships between it and a city that will set students and faculty over multiple disciplines onto challenging livability projects for an entire year.

And the UW has pre-selected the City of Auburn to be a pilot-year partner.

Think of it: hordes of students, drawing on their training, community expertise and what’s worked throughout the world, cooking up hundreds of fresh ideas.

Jenna Leonard, who works in Environmental Services for the City of Auburn, will coordinate the program here. She is already working with department directors and their project managers at the staff level, and they have provided her with projects they said they believe should be a good fit.

At a recent study session at City Hall, Leonard introduced a list of 49 potential projects to the City Council.

Among them:

• Auburn urban artists in action: Creating public murals in various parts of the city, using local young people to decrease graffiti and increase youth engagement.

• Community Development Block Grant planning: As a recipient of CDBG funds, every five years the City must complete a plan made up of an assessment of needs and a five-year plan showing how to address the needs of the City. One potential student project would be a full assessment of the City’s needs and the potential projects for which the City could ask for funding.

The list has been forwarded to professors at the UW to review and to align the needs of the City with the university.

Leonard said the 49 projects on the early list will be whittled to 15 or 20 selections in the coming months. Each project that makes the final cut, Leonard said, will be accompanied by a formal, written scope of work. The associated director and the professors who will lead the courses are to review the final projects.

Once the partners enter into a formal agreement, they can begin more formal discussions about project selections.

“There are many roles on both sides of the table that need to work together to have a meaningful partnership,” Leonard said. “On the university side, you have the students and the courses, and the professors leading those courses, and then you have the UW Livable City Year Program coordinator.”

Councilman Rich Wagner liked what he was hearing.

“I believe in the value of these things for young people,” Wagner said. “It just brings a whole different perspective – I wouldn’t say naive – I’d say fresh. And so, I’m all for it.”

Leonard said the program starts this fall and ends in the fall of 2017.