Tell us about your scholarship and how it relates to urban issues, particularly homelessness.
My terminal degree—they always say terminal cause it kills you—is in public health. My scholarly work is considered public scholarship and my doctorate is in international health, and it’s a practice doctorate because I’m also a nurse practitioner. I always do research that’s outwards focused, in health services, health policy. I’m also really passionate about inter-professional education especially for our health sciences students. I work in a couple of the shelters here in the U-district: Roots young adults shelter, and the Elizabeth Gregory home which is specific to homeless cis and trans women, and functions as a safe house for those dealing with intimate partner violence and trauma. We organize inter-professional groups of medical, nursing, and dental students that do basic foot and dental care and education for them.
In terms of public scholarship, I’m currently wrapping up one project that’s on trauma-informed care called “Soul Stories: Voices from the Margins”, which will be published by the University of California Medical Humanities Press this year. The next one in-line is called Skid road: the intersection of Health and Homelessness,it is an in-depth narrative history of homelessness in King County, looking at how a fairly progressive city/county has historically dealt with the most vulnerable populations, and to figure out how we got to where we are now.
The project that is just starting as part of Urban@UW is the Doorway community café project. We had a faculty retreat in November 2016, and I was a part of brainstorming and planning projects that we could do as a university, looking at our resources, interests, and what we could do that has a higher impact on homelessness, nationally as well as right here on our doorstep. One of the ideas was a place-based studio/ community café. I am working with Lisa Kelly who is a professor in the UW School of Lawwho assists homeless adolescents and young adults with legal issues, and Charlotte Sanders with the School of Social Work. When I was doing study abroad work in Auckland, New Zealand with Jim Dires, we were with our students working with some agencies and NGO’s building partnerships to address homelessness in a more comprehensive, upstream way than just having soup kitchens. They opened a community café called the Merge café, where baristas and all the food prep people are working their way out of homelessness. The whole point was that they have community tables, there aren’t any single tables. There are unobtrusive social workers and outreach workers that help if people are struggling with housing insecurity or food insecurity. There are homelessness services without being known as “the homelessness café”. And we want to see if that model will work specifically for homeless young adults and adolescents in the U District.
How long have you been working on the challenge of homelessness?
I’ve worked as a nurse practitioner and health services researcher around homelessness since 1984. When I was a young adult I had the lived experience of homelessness for about 6 months. It’s a very individual type of experience that directly impacted my practice and my research. My 1st book is a health policy narrative called “Catching Homelessness: A Nurse’s Story of Falling through the Safety Net” came out in August 2016 and it was the UW Health Sciences common book for AY 2016-17. Homelessness and trauma also affected my teaching; I would always include some of that perspective. But, I wasn’t as “out,” with it because it was—and still is—very stigmatizing and people automatically go to the individual choices that you made. So, that’s changed how I teach and also how I interact with students—in a good way.
What role do community partnerships play in your work?
Public health is by definition inter-professional, so I automatically value partnerships as they allow us to avoid the problem of tunnel vision. For something that’s a wicked problem like homelessness, you have to have inter-professional views, and I love it because it keeps me on my toes. We have many partnerships with homeless youth-serving agencies that operate with businesses, and with policymakers.
How will you use data in addressing homelessness through the Doorway Project?
My philosophy about research follows a pragmatic framework of exploring the best methods, questions, and approaches to figuring out possible solutions to societal problems. My research has always been mixed method so I do a lot that’s qualitative as well as quantitative. For my dissertation I used objective medical charts and physical exam findings as well as qualitative methods like participatory community mapping. I personally think it’s a really important way to go for wicked problems like homelessness—wicked being very multifaceted and so there is no one easy solution. For Doorway we are planning on having broad-based objective data as well as qualitative data.
What approaches do you believe are most effective for addressing homelessness in Seattle?
A community café! Since the “white persons founding of Seattle” we’ve had one of the highest amounts of homelessness per capita, from a continual boom-bust economy going all the way back to when the area attracted a lot of single men mostly for shipping and logging. Looking historically at policy solutions, I’m pragmatic and at the same time very empathetic to people who are experiencing homelessness. I have had the lived experience and I’ve worked with many people who are experiencing that, and at the same time I am a citizen and a homeowner and I have children, and I believe there are certain civil standards we need to have as a society. Coming from a nursing and public health perspective, huge homeless encampments are problematic, and they are symptomatic of something that is significantly wrong with how we are handling housing and social support. If somebody is substance abusing, has severe depression or other mental health issues and you get them a stable place to live, even if you don’t get them counseling and medications, a lot of the time they get better. We need a lot more supportive, longer-term housing, especially for young adults. I’m a mom of two young adults and they had lots of stability and resources, and a lot of the young people right out by the window here have not had those resources, they’ve gone through foster care, detention in the past, fractured lives, and trauma.
What do you see for the future of research and policy-making in your field, and in homelessness as an urban challenge?
More consumer involvement. I work with the National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and they focus on grassroots community involvement. Everything that they do includes consumers to vet certain changes. So, I think of having that as more of a model. Also, respecting people’s time: I’m paid to go to meetings because I’m a faculty member but someone who is struggling to make ends meet, a meeting is taking time away from what they could do otherwise to make money. So, paying them for their time and valuing their input—I think we could do that even more.
If you could give aspiring urban scholars a piece of advice, what would it be?
Get out there—and wear comfortable shoes! It’s one thing to sit in some little office pod or library being very removed. If you’re talking urban scholarship, community involvement is very important, in whatever way you are able to, get out there and take time to be a part of the community that you’re studying or living in.
Written by Shahd Al Baz, Urban@UW Communications Assistant
City of Bellevue selected as 2018-2019 UW Livable City Year partner
The year-long partnership connects city staff with students and faculty who will collaborate on projects to advance the Bellevue City Council Vision Priorities, specifically around livability and sustainability.
In the upcoming year, city staff will work with University of Washington’s Livable City Year program participants on a variety of possible projects that range from trail-oriented development and urban forestry best practices to potential public/private partnerships and multi-family community outreach strategies. Projects encompass many of the council’s strategic target areas of Economic Development, Transportation and Mobility, High Quality Built and Natural Environment, Great Places You Want to Be, Achieving Human Potential, and High-Performance Government.
UW, Seattle & King county join forces for new academic health department
The University of Washington Schools of Public Health and of Nursing have formalized an alliance with Public Health – Seattle & King County that seeks to encourage collaboration and resource sharing through a new academic health department. The three-year partnership will provide a foundation for increased training and other opportunities for students, faculty, researchers and staff of the participating organizations.
“Academic public health departments make for great collaboration. Our faculty and students can engage in meaningful service while being exposed to state-of-the-art public health work,” says Joel Kaufman, Interim Dean of the UW School of Public Health. “It’s another great example of how our School is involved in the community and not huddled in the ivory tower.”
Urban@UW compiles Faculty Highlights Report for research, teaching and engagement on homelessness
As part of its recently launched Homelessess Research Initiative, Urban@UW has collaborated with faculty and staff across all three UW campuses to compile a broad-ranging selection of powerful and robust projects addressing homelessness from a research lens. Check out the Faculty Highlights Report to learn more about these efforts and the people behind them.
The Faculty Highlights Report was developed by Urban@UW’s Homelessness Research Initiative.
UW researchers analyze effects of minimum wage on seattle food prices
Many states and localities throughout the U.S. have adopted higher minimum wages, and higher labor costs among low-wage food system workers could result in higher food prices. However, this study finds no evidence of change in supermarket food prices by market basket or increase in prices by food group in response to the implementation of Seattle’s minimum wage ordinance. This paper is part of a broader Minimum Wage Study at the University of Washington.
People of color exposed to more pollution from cars, trucks, power plants during 10-year period
A new nationwide study finds that the U.S. has made little progress from 2000 to 2010 in reducing relative disparities between people of color and whites in exposure to harmful air pollution emitted by cars, trucks and other combustion sources.
The groundbreaking study led by University of Washington Professor of Civil and Environmental EngineeringJulian Marshall estimated exposure to outdoor concentrations of a transportation-related pollutant — nitrogen dioxide (NO2) — in both 2000 and 2010, based on neighborhoods where people live. It found disparities in NO2 exposure were larger by race and ethnicity than by income, age or education, and that relative inequality persisted across the decade.
Andrew Dannenberg, an Affiliate Professor at the School of Public Health and the College of Built Environments, writes about the importance of architects recognizing human health: while architects have long recognized the importance of human health —including physical, mental, and social well-being — as part of their mission, implementation sometimes reflects a spirit of compliance more than of aspiration. Design that is limited to preventing harm by meeting building codes and standards forfeits the full range of design possibilities that could enhance the health and quality of life of a building’s occupants and visitors. There are many major societal trends for which architects can contribute health-promoting improvements: obesity, housing and social inequities, an aging population, hazardous chemical exposures, urbanization, nature contact deficit, energy poverty, water shortages and excesses, natural disasters, and climate change.
First UW Livable City Year project reports delivered to the City of Auburn
Teams of University of Washington students have been working throughout this academic year on livability and sustainability projects in the City of Auburn. The yearlong Livable City Year partnership has given students a chance to work on real-world challenges identified by Auburn, while providing Auburn with tens of thousands of hours of study and student work.
Livable City Year connects UW faculty with projects based in Auburn, which are then incorporated into their classes. The program started this year, partnering with Auburn for the 2016-2017 year. This fall marked the first quarter for the program, when students in seven courses tackled 10 separate projects. The final reports from these projects are now complete.
“The very first Livable City Year projects were a success due to the hard work of our students and faculty, along with crucial guidance from Auburn city staff. It’s been an exciting process of co-creation,” said Livable City Year faculty co-director Branden Born of the Department of Urban Design and Planning. “The student teams working on these projects have worked to provide real benefits for the residents of Auburn, while also gaining real-world experience and a connection to the community.”
Students in Livable City Year courses spend at least one quarter working on a specific project identified as a need by Auburn. The student teams work with Auburn staff and community stakeholders as they conduct research and work on the projects.
Fall projects included assessments of Auburn’s work in reducing homelessness among the community, educational strategies to reduce pet waste and improper household items in wastewater, cultural city mapping, city values outreach, work on community place-making, and more.
“The projects that these students have taken on are at the core of many of our city’s major initiatives,” Auburn mayor Nancy Backus said. “Their work and dedication through the Livable City Year program has helped us make major strides forward in areas that are critical to the health, safety and happiness of our residents.”
After the quarter’s research work is completed, a student or student team works with Livable City Year’s editor and graphic designer to prepare a final report for the city, including any recommendations or possible future steps. By having several coordinated student teams across disciplines working on various projects, the Livable City Year program provides the City of Auburn with ways to enhance sustainability and livability elements within existing and future projects and programs.
While the fall project teams have completed their reports, this winter students have been working on projects including reducing food waste in school cafeterias; researching the costs, challenges and benefits of low-impact development stormwater technology; and better connecting Auburn’s residents socially, culturally, and economically.
Senior Ariel Delos Santos was one of the students in Born’s fall class which looked at connectivity and community place-making in Auburn.
“Working with the LCY program brought a novel component to our educational experience. Instead of a standard classroom setting where our homework is only seen by the professor, our final products were intimately tied to the city and its community members - which greatly motivated us to do more work and be more attentive to those who will be affected,” said Delos Santos, a senior double major in Community, Environment & Planning and Aquatic Fishery & Sciences. “As a student, I loved how closely I was able to work with my peers regularly and the camaraderie that we built. I definitely learned how to maintain professional relationships, accountability, communication, and my natural role in team settings.”
For more information, contact Born at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-543-4975; LCY program manager Jennifer Davison at email@example.com or 206-240-6903; and Jenna Leonard, Auburn’s climate and sustainability practice leader, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 253-804-5092.
How future superstorms could overwhelm today’s wastewater infrastructure
The current Seattle rainstorm, and many like it this year, are overwhelming our city’s wastewater pipes, and some sewage may be dumping into the Puget Sound as we speak. But even in a normal year, King County dumps about 800 million gallons of raw sewage into its waterways. That’s because, when it rains too much in too short a time, “pipes start to flow too full,” School of Public Health professor Scott Meschke says, “and so they start to back up. And, in order to prevent that, you have the overflow. If you didn’t have the [overflow], it would go into people’s basements, or out their toilets.” And with greater probability for extreme weather, this phenomenon will increase, as Guillaume Mauger with UW’s Climate Impacts Group explains.
In honor of International Women’s Day, we are highlighting just some of UW’s brilliant female professors, scholars, and and change-makers with whom Urban@UW is proud to collaborate. Click on their names to explore their work.
Thaisa Way, Executive Director, Urban@UW; Department of Landscape Architecture
Julian Agyeman, Professor of Urban and Environmental Policy and Planning at Tufts University, will be delivering a talk at the University of Washington on February 28 at 7:30pm. Agyeman was originally trained as an ecologist and biogeographer before turning to critical urban studies and environmental social science. Agyeman’s scholarship challenges basic notions of sustainability through his concept of ‘just sustainabilities,’ which aims to enhance equity and justice for both humans and ecosystems, now and into the future. In anticipation of his visit, Urban@UW has compiled a brief reading list.
Julian Agyeman and Duncan McLaren challenge the notion that connectivity, apps, and sensors mean enhanced livability for everyone by indicating they can also risk sidestepping inclusive politics. Agyeman and McLaren argue that truly smart cities need to use technology that bolsters possibilities for political participation, sharing, and inclusion, instead of market driven solutions that threaten urban equity.
Agyeman traces the evolution of and responses to the term environmental justice across international lines in response to differing racial, social, and classist circumstances surrounding inequalities. Agyeman posits that environmental justice is increasingly becoming a human rights issue rather than an American-centric civil rights issue
The emergence of food justice has had profound implications for both theory and activism. Food justice’s aspirations for going local in order to challenge the inequities of large-scale agri-business can unfortunately create its own fields of exclusion through high craft, expensive, local food items or cultivate a culture around local food that is available only to those with the financial means. Agyeman and Jesse McEntee argue that urban political ecology can offer a lens to critically focus on possibilities for retooling approaches to the food justice problem.
Compiled by Andrew Prindle & Urban@UW.
Working with community to tackle homelessness
Seattle’s rapid rise in homelessness, coinciding with increasing costs in housing and living, have brought significant challenges to economically vulnerable populations in the Puget Sound. In spite of a sense of urgency regionally and in many areas of the country, sufficient resources, effective systemic fixes and broad support still have not come together to end homelessness.
As a research and teaching institution, the University of Washington seeks to develop strategies to address the problems facing citizens experiencing homelessness. These efforts include developing rigorous research questions and projects, analyzing the barriers to housing, and working with practitioners and civic leaders to find sustainable solutions.
University of Washington faculty and students are now looking to how we might expand our capabilities and our connections with communities to collaboratively work to mitigate the effects of homelessness, improve access to and retention of housing, and contribute to ending homelessness.
As policymakers, communities, and practitioners consider changes in priorities and services to address the recently accelerated rise in homelessness, new research questions and needs arise requiring ethical monitoring and the implementation of productive and effective measures. This presents both an opportunity and challenge for the University of Washington.
One effort to build on the UW’s work includes Urban@UW working in collaboration with the West Coast Poverty Center and other key partners to catalogue existing homelessness-related projects and research across the University’s departments and centers, in order to gain insights into strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. A faculty retreat in fall 2016 brought together researchers and practitioners from across UW’s three campuses to share information and develop new projects.
Connecting researchers from various and occasionally disparate fields is essential to fostering new collaborations capable of advancing thinking at a rate commensurate with the challenge at hand. By building a network of current initiatives we aim to facilitate the development of new opportunities for those interested in participating; and foster research that improves data analytics, evaluates policies and strategies, and addresses the barriers to housing for the diverse populations experiencing homelessness.
As part of increasing research and data analytic approaches to homelessness, Urban@UW organized a workshop at the 8th International Conference on Social Informatics conference in downtown Bellevue, WA in November 2016. Local and national researchers presented their work on technological and data-driven solutions to improve services, understand population processes, and develop effective community interaction with persons experiencing homelessness.
Additionally, on January 17 and 18, the MetroLab Network, a national city-university network hosted by the City of Seattle and the University of Washington, met in Seattle City Hall for a Big Data and Human Services Workshop. Keynote speakers and breakout discussions explored ways to direct research and technology to improve services while addressing income inequality, health, mobility, and homelessness. The School of Social Work will be Urban@UW’s partner in addition to others as we move forward in this arena.
Many UW faculty staff and students work, and many have worked for decades, in different ways to end or ameliorate the effects of homelessness. Urban@UW takes the challenge of how to propel this work forward and, though smarter collaboration, increase effectiveness. As UW and Urban@UW build a collective homelessness initiative, we look forward to more opportunities for community stakeholders to participate. Keep an eye out for updates from Urban@UW and the University of Washington regarding these issues. If would like more targeted communication about homelessness, please consider joining our mailing list, or our listserv for urban-related information and events. Any questions may be sent to email@example.com.
Written by the staff of Urban@UW.
Reflections on Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change
On November 7th and 8th Urban@UW, in collaboration with the University of Washington’s Climate Impacts Group (CIG), hosted a symposium to begin transdisciplinary conversation on the multifaceted dynamics and consequences of Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change (UEJ). Below are some reflections from this event, and a sample of the resources we’ll be sharing from our time together.
Urban environmental justice has been impacting cities for centuries, if not millennia, where unequal power distribution creates disparate living conditions that typically fall along racial, ethnic, and class lines. Climate change is expected to accelerate already existing injustices in vulnerable communities. Flooding islands and coastlines, drought conditions, erosion, aridity, and soil loss are already impacting multitudes of marginalized as well as traditionally subsistence and agricultural communities.
Jacqui Patterson, Director of the NAACP Environmental and Climate Justice Program, argued during her Walker-Ames lecture that these communities are the proverbial canaries in the coal mine, but that impacts will not be isolated to such communities. Rather, given time and continued inaction, people of all races and classes will invariably experience the hardships wrought by the adverse conditions of climate change.
Given the scale of impacts of these challenges, a major goal of the UEJ symposium was to gather community leaders, academics, and the public to begin learning from each other on the topic of urban environmental justice: what are you studying, what are you finding, what’s working and what’s not, what partnerships could be made? Perhaps most critically, how does academia engage with communities and institutions in a way that is not only respectful, but collaborative and community-driven?
While academics have been working on environmental justice issues for decades, this work too often tends to operate within the confines of the academy and overlooks stakeholder input. Speakers at the UEJ symposium, experts in this field, explained that this tendency leads to insulated input from those most affected, and further confines data and analysis to traditional quantitative information such as geospatial data, census results, and other forms of ‘hard data.’ This pattern thus restricts the inclusion of “non-traditional” forms of data, notably those understandings drawn from the lived experiences of those most affected. Therefore the goal is not simply to include more types of information, but to combine quantitative and qualitative data through collaboration between researchers and communities in order to more robustly and comprehensively document injustices in a way that allows legibility, participation, and engagement of a greater diversity of people, scholars, and community members.
A further challenge comes in addressing the deep structural issues of racism, sexism, and classism that pervade the behavior of some communities as well as larger social and political institutions. Tom Goldtooth, director of Indigenous Environmental Network, spoke to us via live audio feed from Standing Rock and made clear to the audience that although the scale of this particular protest may be significant, this is just an example of the repeatedly lived experiences for disenfranchised peoples wherein the needs and actions of state actors and/or corporations are able to avoid repercussions of land seizure, pollution, or treaty infringements.
Furthermore, the scope of injustices is not simply urban. While cities have increasingly been the focus of a trove of writing on the topic, a more accurate perspective must recognize that urban does not simply mean “city” – but should better refer to the regions that urban, peri-urban, and rural communities all participate in. While cities may have denser populations, environmental justice persists across the entire spectrum of environments. Julie Sze, professor and Chair of American Studies at UC-Davis, explained the demarcations of neighborhood, town, or city all fail to account for the scale of consequences of climate change effects and environmental injustices, and argued for the necessity of deep, inclusive collaboration and communication.
Many visiting scholars and panelists, including Mia White, Rachel Morello-Frosch, Kim Powe, and Jill Mangaliman, indicated that environmental injustices are not rooted in isolated moments of conflict, but rather are the result of a sustained conflict where market forces and structural disenfranchisement may repeatedly infringe upon sovereignty, food systems, human health and well-being, and environmental integrity. Discovering points of action in these complex issues will require that academics and others collapse the usual barriers of collaboration and information access.
Looking forward, the conversation among scholars, activists and other attendees argued that a failure to reach across usual lines—of discipline, sector, class, race, gender, and other differences—will effect the continued, critical loss of skills and experiences for both students and scholars, that may be compounded by a collective loss for the academy and their communities to know and learn from each other. Scientists, policymakers, community members and others can make it so their work is not only collaborative, but inclusive and broadly informed.
Below is a selection of readings from the speakers who joined us for this event. More resources, including video from the event, will be published soon.
Tom Goldtooth,Why REDD/REDD+ Is Not a Solution, No REDD Papers Volume 1, edited by Hallie Boas,13-25, Indigenous Environmental Network and Carbon Trade Watch, 2011.
Julie Sze, “Exploratory Concepts, Case Studies and Keywords for Teaching Environmental Justice and Climate Change from the Humanities”,Teaching Climate Change in Literary and Cultural Studies, edited by Stephanie LeMenager, Stephen Siperstein and Shane Hall, 184-190. Routledge, 2017.
Urban@UW hosted the Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change Symposium together with the Climate Impacts Group, and was a sponsor for the Graduate School’s Walker Ames lecture featuring Jacqui Patterson.
October Recap: Urban Transporation, Health, and Justice
October has seen a lot of research and engagement surrounding urban design, health, and transportation from University of Washington’s urban scholars and practitioners. Here at Urban@UW we’ve kicked off our Livable City Year program, reflected on our first full year of work and collaborations, and are planning for our symposium on Urban Environmental Justice in a Time of Climate Change (November 7-8).
The Livable City Year Program is in its first year of operation. Partnering university courses, students, and instructors with a city, this year Livable City Year is working with the City of Auburn to collaboratively generate ideas, analysis and potential solutions to advance urban livability and sustainability.
Urban@UW turned 1! Our Director Thaisa Way penned a letter reflecting on our mission, accomplishments, and next steps for Urban@UW to further collaborate with communities, cities, and researchers to collectively advance urban thinking and problem-solving.
The College of Engineering has opened a new lab working with the City of Seattle through support from UW, Costco, Nordstrom, and UPS. The Urban Freight Lab is uses analytics to generate potential solutions as transportation infrastructure and delivery systems become stressed by increasingly heavy use.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
First Livable City Year projects underway; kickoff event Oct. 6
Not even a week has passed since the start of the quarter, and already a group of University of Washington public health students is deep into discovering the cultural flavor and identity of each neighborhood in a nearby city.
The project is a sizeable challenge: Students will pour over census and public health data, interview residents, photograph neighborhoods and summarize their findings in a report. The end result will help officials in Auburn, Washington, know how to best engage and communicate with the culturally diverse populations in the city.
The program will formally celebrate the start of its first year at 10 a.m. Oct. 6 at wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House on the UW’s campus in a kickoff event open to all. Professors leading Livable City Year courses this fall will talk about their projects, followed by a time for Q&A.
“My students are really excited to be part of a larger initiative,” said India Ornelas, a UW assistant professor of health services who is teaching the class that will profile each Auburn neighborhood.
“They get to do something they really know will be valued and practice their professional skills to engage with each community.”
The projects in Auburn this fall include addressing homelessness issues, building awareness of city values, understanding wastewater discharge, managing pet waste and evaluating the success of a buy-local program. UW undergraduate and graduate students in six different courses spanning environmental and public health, sociology, and urban design and planning will deliver reports and recommendations to city leadership at the end of the quarter.
Sociology professor Kyle Crowder is tackling three separate projects on homelessness in Auburn with his upper-level undergraduate course on cities and neighborhood dynamics. One will assess and prioritize Auburn’s plans for addressing homelessness, and another will develop innovative strategies for understanding the size, change and distribution of the city’s homeless population.
A third project will focus on finding incentives to maintain the city’s relatively affordable older homes in the midst of expensive residential expansion.
“These are neat projects in that they allow students to work on things that are practically important, but there’s also, in a way, a ‘dream big’ element,” Crowder said. “There are great tools and resources at this university, so the more we can bring those to the community, the better off everyone will be.”
Several projects from this quarter will continue with Auburn for the rest of the academic year, and a half dozen new ones will begin winter and spring quarters. Other cities around Washington can apply to work with the UW through the Livable City Year program in future years.
For more information, contact Livable City Year program manager Jennifer Davison at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-240-6903.
The eScience Institute‘s Data Science for Social Good (DSSG 2016) research fellows concluded their summer with a rich symposium of research and strong media responses, including: The Seattle Times and ORCA card data, TechCrunch overviewed each project, GeekWire profiled the ORCA project and OpenSidewalks, and Geekwire published another piece showcasing connections made between Amazon reviews and food safety.
Crosscut concluded a very well-done 3 part series on Seattle’s homeless.
The National Endowment for the Humanities awarded $179,000 to fund a 2017 summer institute focusing on western cultural conceptions of urban/nature dynamics by using Seattle’s complex environmental history as a focal point to examine broader implications for global justice and health.
Urban@UW, the School of Public Health, UW Sustainability, College of Built Environments, and Undergraduate Academic Affairs are proud to be working with the University of Washington and the City of Auburn in the Livable City Year program. This new initiative combines the talents of civic and academic institutions to work collaboratively work towards actionable solutions.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
University of Washington and City of Auburn launch first Livable City Year partnership
The University of Washington has begun a yearlong partnership with the City of Auburn, under the new Livable City Year program. UW students and professors will work with the City of Auburn to advance the city’s goals for livability and sustainability throughout the upcoming academic year.
In this inaugural year, UW faculty will lead classes to work on 15 to 20 projects identified by the City of Auburn. Students will provide tens of thousands of hours of study and production toward specific projects identified by Auburn, while benefiting from the opportunity to apply classroom lessons to real-world problems.
“This partnership represents the very best kind of UW student experience by creating opportunities for community engagement, practical problem-solving and interdisciplinary study,” said University of Washington President Ana Mari Cauce. “The UW could not be prouder to partner with the City of Auburn through the Livable City Year program to combine education with making positive change in a Washington community.”
The Auburn City Council voted unanimously Aug. 29 to enter into an agreement with the UW for the program.
The UW’s Livable City Year program is a cross-university collaboration led by faculty directors Branden Born, an associate professor in the College of Built Environments, and Jennifer Otten, an assistant professor in the School of Public Health, in collaboration with UW Sustainability and with foundational support from Urban@UW, the College of Built Environments and Undergraduate Academic Affairs. The program connects local governments with UW classes to address community-identified areas of need. The coordinated, cross-discipline approach provides the local partners with a new option to enhance sustainability and livability elements within existing and future projects and programs.
“I think the most powerful thing about Livable City Year is that it allows UW to connect with communities throughout the state using this field-tested and mutually beneficial model,” said program manager Jennifer Davison, who also manages Urban@UW. “This partnership with Auburn will be fully supported every step of the way by the program, from project identification and connection with faculty and courses, to student experience and final delivery of meaningful work to the city. It’s really exciting to see it coming together.”
Auburn’s government and administration were early champions of the program, and the city’s willingness and preparedness to take on this opportunity helped move the program forward from an idea to a reality.
“We are incredibly honored and excited to be partnering with the University of Washington on these projects and to be part of this ground breaking year for the program,” Auburn Mayor Nancy Backus said.
“This program is an incredible example of what higher education can do for our community,” said Auburn Deputy Mayor Largo Wales. “Not only does this give students a unique hands-on learning opportunity, it provides the city with the opportunity to complete valuable projects that we would not have been able to otherwise.”
“By connecting many courses over one academic year to projects that address the partner city’s specific goals, Livable City Year can have broad impacts that are difficult for faculty to achieve on their own,” Born said. “Livable City Year gives faculty across many disciplines a chance to work together in a fully collaborative UW effort.”
As part of the Livable City Year process, Auburn directors and staff identified almost 50 different possible projects for consideration. UW faculty will select 15 to 20 of these projects as subjects for classes in a variety of disciplines. Students will work on the projects in conjunction with Auburn staff for a meaningful end result. Projects were identified over a wide range of topics, such as public works, innovation and technology, urban planning and more.
“This program provides students with an opportunity to tackle meaningful and challenging real-world problems,” Otten said. “Projects addressed in these UW class and city collaborations directly affect the health and well-being of the city’s population. Students will gain an introduction to the civic process and get an opportunity to become better engaged with local communities.”
Marc Schlossberg, co-director of the University of Oregon’s Sustainable Cities Initiative, is available to talk about this similar program: email@example.com or 541-346-2046.
The Livable City Year program will hold a kickoff event highlighting the projects UW students will be working on during the fall quarter on Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. in the wǝɫǝbʔaltxʷ – Intellectual House at the University of Washington.
While we are in the midst of a beautiful summer, things at the University of Washington and at Urban@UW are moving right along. We’ve seen some original writing, research, and even a podcast come out of community covering topics from marine noise pollution to data science and minimum wage to police reforms.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
Minimum Wage Study: Effects of Seattle wage hike modest, may be overshadowed by strong economy
The lot of Seattle’s lowest-paid workers improved following the city’s minimum wage increase to $11 in 2015, but that was more due to the robust regional economy than the wage hike itself, according to a research team at the University of Washington’s Evans School of Public Policy & Governance.
Although the ordinance appears to have boosted wages for the city’s lowest-paid workers, the benefits of the increase may have been partly offset by fewer hours worked per person and slightly less overall employment, the Seattle Minimum Wage Study research team found. Estimated income gains for the average worker were modest – on the order of a few dollars a week – and sensitive to methodological choices.
The team presented its findings in an update to the council this morning (July 25).
The ordinance took effect April 1, 2015, raising the minimum hourly wage from $9.47 to $11. Under the law, businesses with fewer than 500 employees are scheduled to reach the $15 an hour wage in 2021. Employers with 500 or more employees, either in Seattle or nationally, will reach that level in three years, or 2017.
The challenge of this report, Vigdor said, was to isolate the effects of the wage increase ordinance from all other concurrent economic factors, chiefly the surging regional economy. This enables the researchers to compare Seattle to what it might look like today had the minimum wage ordinance never happened — knowing, too, that the strong economy was slowly pushing wages up regardless of the ordinance.
For their research, the team used employment, hours and earnings records from the Washington Employment Security Division going back to 2005 to create a model of how the local labor market works. They also viewed data on other nearby regions that did not increase their minimum wage, to better understand how rising property values, expanding tech employment and even the weather might have influenced what the team observed in the city itself.
The research sought to answer two questions: What has happened to Seattle’s labor market since passage of the minimum wage ordinance? And more crucially, what has been the effect of that ordinance on the labor market?
The first question involves simple comparisons of yesterday with today. But, Vigor said, “To imagine what a higher minimum wage might accomplish in a region not enjoying a significant economic boom, or what might happen in Seattle next year if the boom should wear off, the second question is the only one that matters.”
The researchers found that:
Seattle’s lowest-paid workers saw larger-than-usual paychecks in late 2015, but at most, only 25 percent of the observed income gains — a few dollars a week — can be attributed to the higher wage.
Businesses relying heavily on low-wage staff showed signs of cutting back, though they too benefited from the strong economy. They added jobs at about the same rate as businesses outside the city, but employees’ working hours in the city lagged by an average of about one hour per employee per week.
Even amid a relative boom, Seattle’s lowest-wage earners show signs of “lagging behind” a control group drawn from other parts of the state. The employment rate was down about 1 percentage point for workers who earned less than $11 an hour in mid-2014; their average hours declined, and the proportion switching from jobs in the city to elsewhere ticked upward by 2 to 3 percent.
“Our report indicates that Seattle’s track record after increasing the minimum wage is neither as negative as some had feared nor as positive as some had hoped,” Vigdor said. “While the vibrant local economy is boosting employment and incomes up and down the economic ladder, the positive effects of a higher minimum wage are being at least partly offset by cutbacks in hours.”
The researchers cautioned, however, that their findings are statistical averages that could mask distinctions among different types of workers. The findings address only the short-run impact of Seattle’s wage hike to $11 an hour and don’t reflect the full range of experiences for thousands of individual workers in the Seattle economy.
Next, the research team plans to incorporate more detailed information about workers by linking employment records to other state databases. This will provide the capacity to determine, for instance, whether the workers benefiting most from higher minimum wages are more likely to be living in poverty.
Other coming work will include:
Extending the analysis to Seattle’s second wage increase, in April 2016, when the ordinance began distinguishing between businesses of different sizes
Collecting additional survey information from Seattle businesses and conducting more interviews with a sample of workers tracked since early 2015.
The team expects to make its next report to the city in September; that report will focus on how the minimum wage hike has impacted Seattle nonprofit organizations.
The research was funded in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant to the UW’s Center for Demography and Ecology. Funding also was provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and the City of Seattle.
For more information, contact the research team at firstname.lastname@example.org or J. Paul Blake, Evans School director of media and external relations, at 206-543-3958 or email@example.com.
(Originally published by UW Today & Peter Kelley.)
UW researchers discuss data, trends of gun violence in U.S.
Before the horrific mass shooting in Orlando, Florida, before the U.S. Senate filibuster and House sit-in, and before the American Medical Association’s call for more federal funding into gun-violence research, two UW Medicine doctors were quietly conducting a rare study – without federal dollars – into what happens to gunshot victims after they are treated and leave Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
New research by Drs. Fred Rivara and Ali Rowhani-Rahbar indicates that gunshot survivors are four times more likely to die from a firearm injury than other patients. Their research is trying to change this statistic and the quality of life of their patients. Recently they launched a crowdsourcing site to further research into how to improve safe storage in households with firearms.
Rivara is a University of Washington professor of pediatrics and adjunct professor of epidemiology; Rowhani-Rahbar is a UW assistant professor of epidemiology and adjunct assistant professor of pediatrics. Both conduct studies for Harborview Medical Center’s Injury Prevention & Research Center.
At 78.5 years, life expectancy in the United States, while trailing several dozen other countries, has continuously risen in the past century. Leading this upward trajectory are the 25 healthiest U.S. cities. These cities span 14 states and are located across multiple regions, from the Northeast to the Southwest — yet most share several common factors.
In order to determine the healthiest cities in the United States, 24/7 Wall St. examined more than two dozen measures of health factors and health outcomes from the County Health Rankings and Roadmaps program, a collaboration between the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. Based primarily on measures intended to capture quality and length of life, Rochester, Minnesota is the healthiest U.S. metropolitan area.
Looking forward into July - Unlikely Allies is coming to Seattle right after July 4th weekend.
Impact Hub Seattle is hosting the Unlikely Allies: Future of Cities Festival in partnership with the Impact Hub Company - the organization that coordinates the network’s 89 locations worldwide. More than 200 delegates from 70 cities will be joining us for this exciting event!
Unlikely Allies is a two-day festival that takes place in one new city each year, bringing together global and local thought leaders, change-makers, inspired citizens and their unlikely allies: the hackers, artists, policy makers, activists, corporate innovators and designers needed to make real change happen on key issues of our world today.
The full program agenda is available online and includes keynotes by Majora Carter (Startup Box), Carol Coletta (Kresge Foundation), Shayna Englen (Change.org), Jason McLennan (Living Futures Institute) - and master classes, think tanks and learning expeditions around the city focused on homelessness, arts + creativity, climate change and civic engagement.
Urban@UW compiles monthly recaps highlighting the urban research happening across the University of Washington.
Good food, not gone to waste
UW School of Public Health works with city to combat hunger, reduce discards
Forty percent of food in the United States—much of it healthy and edible—goes uneaten. It ends up in landfills and produces methane emissions that are 25 times more potent as a greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. Meanwhile, more than 48 million Americans aren’t getting the food they need, while food banks are struggling to meet demand.
To reverse that trend, the City of Seattle enlisted the UW School of Public Health to analyze current food waste prevention and recovery efforts and help develop local strategies.
The new report (PDF) from the School’s Center for Public Health Nutrition suggests that public agencies are in a position to foster an integrated local and regional approach. Such an effort could provide support for grocery stores and restaurants wanting to reduce their food waste. as well as for organizations striving to make healthier food available to people who need it most.
“The report brings the city a step closer to realizing their goals by helping them understand the challenges and opportunities of food-generating businesses and anti-hunger agencies in creating a more effective food waste prevention and recovery system,” said Jennifer Otten, lead author of the report, “It helps them envision the steps they could take to achieve the triple bottom line of improving environmental health, food security and public health.” Otten is an assistant professor of health services and a core faculty member of the UW Nutritional Sciences Program.
The UW research team conducted 26 in-depth interviews of key stakeholders within the region, and public agencies across the country, to understand the best ways the city can support food waste prevention and recovery goals. Researchers talked to eight anti-hunger agencies, five public agencies, one non-governmental organization, and 12 food businesses.
The researchers came up with 11 key recommendations for the City of Seattle… Among them:
Develop a food waste and recovery roundtable to foster a comprehensive approach across all sectors
Develop and implement standard food waste metrics
Make the case for reducing food waste from the consumer level to the food service industry
Increase infrastructure and capacity of the emergency food system
The report also identified the challenges faced by anti-hunger agencies, public agencies and food businesses.
For anti-hunger agencies, the most cited challenge was inadequate storage space, particularly for perishables that are often the most nutritious items.
Another challenge included difficulty in coordinating efficient pick-up or delivery of donations.
Challenges for public agencies ranged from a lack of coordination internally among individuals working on the food waste system to high employee turnover in the commercial sector. This affects the training and technical assistance they can provide.
Food businesses, such as grocery stores and restaurants, need to deal with customer expectations of quality of food, misconceptions about sell-by and use-by dates, and the unpredictability of consumer purchases. To reduce food waste, businesses have explored various strategies, such as waste audits and small-batch cooking. They have also kept tight tabs on inventory and order as little stock as possible.
Results from this project can help public agencies to better support food waste prevention and recovery efforts in the future, according to the report.
The report also highlights the lack of common metrics for determining how much food is thrown away and how much it is worth. Numbers would not only help incentivize change, but also demonstrate impact, the report notes. However, few food businesses in the study tracked their food donations and each anti-hunger agency used different metrics to do so.
“We really need a national language and some national metrics to understand the problem better and the effectiveness of solutions,” Otten said. This month a partnership of leading international organizations, including the United Nations, unveiled a global standard to measure food waste. It provides a set of definitions and reporting requirements for companies, countries and others.
“Food waste is a major environmental, economic and ethical problem,” Otten said. “We cannot afford to continue squandering our natural resources, in ways that severely impact the climate, by throwing away perfectly edible food.”
Access To Nature In Urban Areas Is Key To Healthier Living
Mental illnesses and mood disorders are more prevalent in urban areas partly due to reduced access to nature, according to a new study.
Researchers probed the rising tension between the critical role of urban areas and these cities’ debilitating aspects that disconnect people from nature – and even raise mental illnesses.
“There’s an enormous amount of disease largely tied to our removal from the natural environment,” warned study author Peter Kahn of University of Washington, citing that children in megacities grow up without seeing stars and achieving feelings of “awe, restoration and imaginative spark” from it.
In their perspective study, Kahn and Terry Hartig from Uppsala University in Sweden pointed to signs that cities can cause emotional and mental strain on their residents.
The little or no contact with nature is creating so-called “environmental generational amnesia,” coined by Kahn to describe how new generations are concocting new ideas of what is “environmentally normal” based on their childhood experiences.
(Originally published by Tech Times and Katrina Pascual)
Q&A: CLPP’s Sam Méndez on Washington’s pot industry and how marijuana is becoming like wine
The Cannabis Law and Policy Project, based in the University of Washington School of Law, was formed by professor Sean O’Connor in fall 2014 to be a center for researching regulatory issues around the state’s new legal cannabis industry. The group recently published its first report for the Washington state Liquor and Cannabis Board (LCB), which found that the amount of marijuana currently allowed to be grown by state-licensed producers in Washington is enough to satisfy both the medical and recreational marijuana markets.
The project’s executive director, , recently sat down for an interview with UW Today to talk about the report and the state’s rapidly evolving pot industry.
Q: Your study estimates that between 1.7 and 2 million square feet of marijuana plant production will be needed to meet Washington’s medical marijuana market. How did you reach that estimate?
SM: We had our phone survey of dispensaries, which produced a couple of figures we relied on, the two big ones being the estimated number of dispensaries in the state, 273, and the estimated average monthly sales of marijuana flower. From those monthly sales, we then estimated annual sales for the whole state. With those figures, we utilized other research to estimate the canopy, or square footage, of marijuana plants needed to satisfy patient demand.
Smoking marijuana is not the only way people use it. It can be consumed in a variety of ways, and we made three broad categorizations of these uses: flower, which is generally smoked, edibles and concentrates. We realized early on that not accounting for these other forms of use would create a big hole in our estimates. I think as time goes on, you’re going to see those being consumed more. A lot of people, particularly new entrants to the cannabis market, are concerned about the health effects of smoking, so I expect market share of edibles and concentrates to grow over time.
Q: What challenges were there in conducting this research?
SM: We had to learn as we went along. Something that the students and I learned as we were producing the report was the difficulty in generalizing edibles and concentrates. First of all, there’s a huge variety of products out there of varying size and prices, though most servings now contain 10 milligrams of THC. Second, these products are generally not made from buds — flower — they’re extracted from “shake,” or basically leftovers of the marijuana plant. This was just one of many complications in the calculations that we had to account for. There were other complications that, given the time and resources we had, we simply couldn’t account for.
Also, there was the challenge of finding solid data on what has long been a black market and a stigmatized market. How many dispensaries are in the state? That’s actually a pretty hard number to come up with. Other states have medical marijuana systems where product and stores are regulated and tracked, but for a variety of reasons that never really happened in Washington. So the state didn’t really know how many dispensaries were out there. Just about anybody could set up shop, put a green cross out front and start selling product.
The other challenge was what we could do with our limited time and resources. We had about three months to do it. It wasn’t just 273 dispensaries that the students called. We came up with 467 potential dispensaries. Some of those were wrong numbers; some had gone out of business. But we had to call every single one. Of the ones that we got no response from, we had to call back. It was 600 to 700 phone calls that the students had to make in those couple of months.
Q: Under state law, all dispensaries must convert to retail stores or close by July 1 of this year. What does that mean for dispensaries and their customers?
SM: Under the new laws, registered patients will be able to grow up to six plants on their own, and they can set up collective gardens. Aside from that — or buying illegally, which is still a significant issue — they will have to go to a licensed retail marijuana store. These new laws effectively end the medical marijuana system as we’ve known it by bringing it under the umbrella of the recreational marijuana system. Stores will have to get an endorsement by the state to sell medical marijuana. To date, about 80 percent of stores will have this. The LCB has capped retail licenses at 556 for the state. To date, 359 licenses have been issued, and 276 of those have reported sales.
One thing I’ve heard that has people in the medical marijuana community frustrated is that patients have to get onto a patient registry that the state government is setting up. Patients can possess a larger amount of marijuana and don’t have to pay sales tax on it. But some patients, at least, don’t want to be on some government list. There are also claims out there that the LCB is underestimating patient demand. I’m sure there are other complaints as well, and the LCB is doing the best they can to accommodate patients and the market as a whole.
Q: What does the change mean for the industry overall in the state?
SM: It’s transforming the entire market, so it’s going to change a lot. A lot of dispensaries have shut down, some have left the state, and many have converted to retail stores. That’s been going on for the last year or so. There’s a limited number of stores that can operate in each locality. For example, Seattle was recently allotted an additional 21 retail licenses by the LCB, far lower than the number of applicants out there. So not everyone, even if they were good actors, could get a license to operate.
The market right now is pretty volatile. But in the grand scheme of things, it’s going to settle down. You’re going to see a system that is now tracked and taxed, and the state will know in a way it didn’t before how many stores are operating, how much product is being sold and moved around, and how many patients are using product, at least in the legitimized system. Again, combating the black market will continue to be an issue.
Q: How much is the recreational market worth?
SM: According to the LCB’s dashboard webpage, total retail recreational marijuana sales for 2016 to date in Washington are nearing $850 million, compared with about $260 million in 2015. Certainly a lot of growth for one year. Give it five years. It’s going to be a lot bigger.
A report from ArcView in California estimates that the national market will grow from $7.1 billion this year to $22.8 billion in 2020 – three times as big in the course of four years. A number of people I’ve spoken to, policymakers as well, believe the horse is out of the barn — that this is not going to be shut down by the federal government. You already have 58 percent of the American public that is in favor of legalization. The federal government would be picking a big fight at this point if they shut down state-legal marijuana.
Q: Where is Washington’s marijuana grown?
SM: Most outdoor marijuana is grown in Eastern Washington, where there’s more sunlight and more cheap space. Indoor operations are all over the state, but it becomes a simple question of profitability. Where is real estate cheap? Indoor grows are not restricted by weather like outdoor grows are, but it’s a lot more expensive to grow indoors.
The advantage with indoor is you can do multiple harvests a year. You’re not restricted by the seasons and lack of sunlight in winter. But indoor operations take a lot more capital to set up. It takes a lot of money to set up a greenhouse and all the systems and equipment.
The price of marijuana is going down, and long term there’s no reason to think it’s going to go up again. One producer has told me the future of marijuana production is outdoors, simply because it’ll be so much cheaper to operate. He’s probably right.
Q: How do you see the market evolving over the next five years?
SM: I think the biggest change you’re going to see is the market divided into different price points. Some have compared it to the wine industry — on the bottom you have your cheap wine that is produced and consumed in massive quantities, and on the top you have the high-quality and expensive stuff. Different customers will be attracted to different parts of this spectrum.
The Washington market is also going to be affected by what’s happening nationwide. The big one that everyone’s talking about is California possibly going legal. That will transform the entire industry. California is the seventh largest economy in the world and is responsible for 80 percent of all marijuana grown in the United States. It’s easily bigger than all the other four legal marijuana states combined, and just about everyone in the industry thinks California will legalize it this year.
So that will affect the market in Washington, because as more states go legal you’re going to see less marijuana tourism. It’s going to be less of a novelty. It will affect the economy in a number of other ways too.
Q: So that’s not necessarily going to be good for the market here?
SM: Well, it depends on your perspective. Good for consumers? Probably. Cheap goods are generally good for consumers. A lot of people are not happy about this becoming a corporatized industry, and I think that’s something you can expect in the next five years. There are public health concerns too. I think you’re going to see a lot more investing in the market, and you’re going to see the system increasingly corporatized, which is to say you’re going to see some very big players, and that’s going to squeeze small businesses.
Anybody who had some notion that this would just be a bunch of local mom-and-pop shops is going to be disappointed. For better or for worse, we live in a country with some very large corporations that dominate our economy. For small businesses, being bought by those corporations is often the path to success. Is that a good or bad thing? It depends who you ask.
For more information, contact Méndez at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-616-3920.
(Originally published by UW Today Blog & Deborah Bach)
Quick Recap: Here’s What Happened in May!
May saw a lot of wonderful events, visitors, and research coming out of the University of Washington community. Here’s a quick recap:
UW-led study pinpoints how air pollution harms your heart
Dr. Joel Kaufman of the University of Washington led a 10-year study of 6,000 people in six cities that found air pollution accelerates deposits of calcium in heart arteries, a known cause of heart attack and stroke.
Scientists have known for years that long-term exposure to air pollution raises the risk of heart disease, but a highly anticipated study led by a University of Washington environmental health expert finally explains why.
In a decadelong analysis involving more than 6,000 people in six states, Dr. Joel Kaufman found that people living in areas with more outdoor pollution built up calcium in the arteries of their hearts faster than those who lived elsewhere — increasing a known risk for heart attack and stroke.
“On average we found a 20 percent acceleration in the rate of the calcium deposits,” said Kaufman, 54, director of the UW’s occupational and environmental medicine program. “I would say the results are a little more clear-cut and dramatic than I expected when I started this.”
(Originally published by The Seattle Times and JoNel Aleccia)
Reading List for Patricia Romero Lankao Visit 5/11
In anticipation of Patricia Romero Lankao’s visit we thought you might enjoy these pieces to get a feel for her research and thinking.
Water in Mexico City: What Will Climate Change Bring to Its History of Water-Related Hazards and Vulnerabilities?—This research paper delves into the history and evolution of water related risks and crises in Mexico City in order to gain insight to socio-environmental challenges as a result of climate change. http://eau.sagepub.com/content/22/1/157.full.pdf+html
Are We Missing the Point? Particularities of Urbanization, Sustainability and Carbon Emission in Latin American Cities —Models for change and the discourse of reducing greenhouse gas emissions is predominately influenced by the perceptions and disposition of high-income nations, particularly those in the Global North. This paper examines how these ways of thinking apply (or misapply) to the situation of Latin American cities. http://eau.sagepub.com/content/19/1/159.full.pdf+html
Urban Ecosystems and the North American Carbon Cycle—Modeling energy use, land use, and traffic emissions are already common practice, but how might including data about urban carbon sources and sinks expand our knowledge of how cities operate? Romero Lankao et al explore this question in order to understand urban areas as whole ecosystems with regard to carbon balance. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1365-2486.2006.01242.x/full
Dr. Patricia Romero Lankao studies the interactions between urban development and global environmental change. She is a social scientist at the Research Applications Laboratory and Institute for the Study of Society and the Environment at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. Dr. Romero Lankao is active in both the international and US human dimensions community, and views urbanization as both a social and environmental phenomenon, and one of the most influential irreversible and evident anthropogenic forces in the Earth system.
This presentation is part of the speaker Series on “Urban Environmental Justice in an Era of Climate Change,” hosted by Urban@UW in partnership with the West Coast Poverty Center, the Climate Impacts Group, the College of the Environment, the School of Social Work, and the Graduate School.
Early Analysis of Seattle’s $15 Wage Law: Effect on Prices Minimal One Year After Implementation
Most Seattle employers surveyed in a University of Washington-led study said in 2015 that they expected to raise prices on goods and services to compensate for the city’s move to a $15 per hour minimum wage.
But a year after the law’s April 2015 implementation, the study indicates such increases don’t seem to be happening.
The interdisciplinary Seattle Minimum Wage Study team, centered in the Evans School for Public Policy & Governance surveyed employers and workers and scanned area commodity and service prices. The team’s report found “little or no evidence” of price increases in Seattle relative to other areas, its report states.
The City of Seattle’s $15 minimum wage ordinance was adopted in June of 2014, and began taking effect on April 1, 2015. Under the law, businesses with fewer than 500 employees will reach the $15 an hour wage in seven years, or 2021. Employers with 500 or more employees (either in Seattle or nationally) will reach that level in three years.
When approving the ordinance, the Seattle City Council also commissioned a thorough study of the law’s impacts, and sealed a contract with the UW in December 2014. The study is led by Evans School professors Jacob Vigdor and Mark Long with Jennifer Romich, associate professor in the UW School of Social Work, and other co-authors from the Evans School and the School of Public Health. Two economists from the Washington Employment Security Department are also on the team.
The researchers released the first in an anticipated series of reports April 18 in a presentation to the Seattle City Council.
The study, conducted between January and May 2015, surveyed 567 randomly selected Seattle employers as well as 55 workers, asking their awareness of and feelings about its expected and actual effects, to establish a baseline for that information.
Responses indicate that nearly all employers knew about the new law, though many were uncertain about its implementation. Many employers expressed hope the higher wages will improve both worker morale and boost job applications, though they also doubt it will improve individual employee productivity among minimum wage workers.
Sixty-two percent of employers said they expected to raise prices of goods and services to accommodate the higher wages brought by the law. Ten percent of the employers believed incorrectly that the ordinance would force their business to move to a $15 wage immediately upon implementation.
But in an analysis of area prices over time, done through a combination of “web scraping” and in-person visits to grocery stores, restaurants and other retail locations, such price increases were not in evidence.
“Our preliminary analysis of grocery, retail and rent prices has found little or no evidence of price increases in Seattle relative to the surrounding area,” the team concluded.
Workers, for their part — many of whom reported struggling to make ends meet despite community and government assistance — responded to the survey wondering doubtfully if the wage increases would truly improve their financial situation. Most knew about the law but many were uncertain of details, the study found.
“Today’s report documents both the hopes and fears that workers and business managers expressed as Seattle began its initiative to raise the minimum wage,” said Vigdor. “Business owners are hopeful that small changes to their operation — such as small price increases — will keep them in the black.
“Workers are hopeful about the promise of greater income, but harbor few illusions about the potential for price increases, or reductions in government benefits, to eat away at these gains.”
The team’s subsequent study on the Seattle minimum wage law will include:
A second round of worker interviews this spring to learn more about its effects on work and family life, and more in spring of 2017 if funding allows.
Analysis this spring of employment security data on employment, hours, and earnings for a report to be released this summer
Another full survey of employers and workers in 2017.
A brief follow-up survey of employers this summer to depict changes over time.
Continued study of prices, expanding to the areas outside Seattle.
A study this fall on the impact of the ordinance on Seattle nonprofits, through surveys and interviews.
“From its inception, this study has sought to do more than track employment figures,” Vigdor said. “Our team hopes to develop a full understanding of how businesses and nonprofits change their practices to accommodate higher wages, and of whether a higher minimum wage meaningfully transforms lives. Today’s report showcases that broader approach.”
Vigdor and Long’s co-investigators on the Seattle Minimum Wage Study are Jennifer Otten of the UW’s School of Public Health and Heather Hill, Scott Allard and Robert Plotnick of the Evans School. Other co-investigators are Scott Bailey and Anneliese Vance-Sherman of the state employment security department.
The research was funded in part by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development grant to the UW’s Center for Demography and Ecology. Funding also was provided by the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, the Russell Sage Foundation and the City of Seattle.
Originally published by UW News, Peter Kelley
SPH Faculty Tap into New UW Effort to Create More Livable Cities
A new University of Washington initiative is thinking “upstream” when it comes to creating safer, healthier and more livable cities.
Urban@UW aims to bring together UW faculty, staff and students from different disciplines with city decision-makers and citizens to wrestle with urban issues such as housing and poverty, growth and transportation, and food and economic disparity. The program is funded by the UW Office of Research.
Organizers held a recent kick-off event to brainstorm possible pilot research projects that would be funded by Urban@UW. Faculty members from the Schools of Public Health and Social Work were among the more than 150 people who took part.