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Annual Letter, Fall 2022

Dear Urban@UW community,

As we all head into another autumn and academic year under the COVID-19 pandemic, Urban@UW wishes to acknowledge the ongoing impacts of this and so many other acute and chronic drivers of struggle, inequality and injustice. Along with the uncertainty, loss, and weariness, we also acknowledge this community’s perseverance and commitment to co-creating cities that foster health, wellbeing, resilience, sustainability, equity, and justice. We are glad to be in the work with this collective community, and we hope the coming year will bring new experiences, positive challenges, and joys.

In the ongoing uncertainty around gathering together this past year, Urban@UW was committed to the power of convening to spark new relationships and new ideas.

Looking to the upcoming year, we are collaborating on a number of potential convenings, including a discussion of equity and capital markets.

Beyond convening, we fostered new collaborative research in 2021-2:

  • We launched two more Spark Grants projects in fall 2022–stay tuned for more information about the results of these two projects. We are supporting a third round, comprising 3 exciting projects taking place in 2022-3., including analysis of a food bank bike-delivery program, with PI Giacomo Dalla Chiara, Postdoctoral Research Associate, Urban Freight Lab; assessment of the use of artificial turf in low-income neighborhoods as it relates to climate resilience, led by Rebecca Neumann (Co-PI): Associate Professor, Civil & Environmental Engineering and Catherine De Almeida (Co-PI): Assistant Professor, Landscape Architecture and other partners; and an exploration of streetwear technologies to promote belonging, led by Brett Halperin (Co-PI): PhD Student, Human Centered Design & Engineering and Daniela Rosner (Co-PI): Associate Professor, Human Centered Design & Engineering. Each of these projects is highly collaborative and applied and we are excited to see what comes from them!
  • We collaborated on the Living Landscapes Incubator, led by Josh Lawler, professor in the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences in partnership with Dan Brown, Professor and Director of the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences; Jen Davison, Urban@UW Director and Director of Research for the College of Built Environments; Ken Yocom, Associate Professor and Chair of the Department of Landscape Architecture; and Mike Yost, professor and chair of Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences. Leveraging a unique and progressive mission to center community priorities and processes, the LLI wrapped up support of 4 projects:
    • Weaving Realities, a project exploring augmented reality story maps in the Lower Duwamish River Valley, in partnership with Duwamish Tribal Services
    • Increasing Community Connections at Yes Farm, a partnership with the Black Farmers’ Collective to plan the landscape/ design of the entrances to Yes Farm to maximize the community benefit and connection to the urban farm and community building space
    • East Duwamish Green Belt: Planning A Piece of SLEJ in Our Backyard (Beacon Hill Brick Pits Project), a project to secure protection of land for environmental, health, and climate justice of the surrounding neighborhoods
    • Toward the Design of a Socio-technical Platform for Environmental Reporting, Response, and Action to Support Thriving Communities, a partnership between Front and Centered and UW researchers to develop community-driven improvements to reporting systems for documenting chronic environmental justice issues to government agencies
  • Urban@UW supported research efforts of the Nehemiah Initiative. Led by Donald King and Bishop Gary Tyson with many other collaborators, this faith-based community development initiative’s mission is to empower the African American community in the Seattle region and beyond to support the retention of historically Black institutions by advocating for development of real property assets owned by those institutions.
  • We supported data analysis and visualization for the City of Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets program.
  • The Doorway Project, co-founded by Urban@UW and supported through fiscal administration, is a community-engaged, healing-centered approach to addressing youth homelessness in the U District. This team is led by Seema Clifasefi, associate professor in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and the co-director of the Harm Reduction Research and Treatment Center.

Collaborative scholarship efforts in the upcoming year include more active participation with MetroLab, the UW relationship of which Urban@UW is stewarding; greater support of pilot collaborations; and resources for junior scholars of color.

During the past year we also worked with the Urban@UW Steering Committee, External Advisory Board, and Graduate Research Assistant  Ana Costa to further analyze our past work and map our theory of change and key impacts. And we collaborated closely with CBE leadership, which supports Urban@UW generously through funding as well as thought partnership, to ensure broad participation and benefits in our efforts.

Stay tuned! We invite you to connect with us as we continue to convene more cross-boundary discussions on critical urban topics; build scholarly capacity to collaboratively address for urban resilience, sustainability, equity, justice, health, and wellbeing; and leverage emergent opportunities to collectively address urban challenges and opportunities.

We look forward to collectively progressing in this exciting work.

Rachel Berney, Faulty Director; Associate Professor, Urban Design and Planning

Jen Davison, Director; Director of Research, College of Built Environments