Tsukuba Dives Deep into City-University Partnerships

Kaori Yamashita (right) is First Stop's newest Student Ambassador. She lives in Tokyo and is studying at Portland State University this year via Waseda University.

Last week, we welcomed Japanese delegation of Tsukuba University. This day was my first experience of study tour. We met up at First Stop Portland’s office and discussed for a while with Ankita Guchait, Marketing & Outreach Coordinator from student Sustainability Center and Jacob Sherman, Curriculum Coordinator from Institute for Sustainable Solutions. The delegation from Tsukuba University wanted to know, how PSU strategically establishes partnerships with local government and other institutions around the city.

Jacob explained that PSU provides knowledge and human resources to the city. This includes researchers and professors, of course, but also students. Ankita explained Portland State's students get involved to achieve sustainable city through the the many volunteer and internship opportunities the university offers.

Jacob Sherman, Portland State Institute for Sustainable Solutions (left)
Afterwards, we headed to the Pearl district by streetcar, to illustrate Portland’s commitment to walkable, high-density and mixed-use neighborhoods. We spent a little time at rooftop of Ecotrust that used to be an old warehouse. This building is meaningful in terms of getting LEED certification-- a benchmark for green building in the U.S.. Event through redevelopment, the structure retained its historic character, including old types of ceiling and windows.

Lastly, we visited the Pacific Northwest College of Art. Their school building was recently renovated to preserve and reuse an old 1919 Federal building. Sean Woodard, PNCA's Interim Facilities Director, showed us many revolutionary ideas to save energy even though it is old building. The Tsukuba delegation was particularly interested ways PNCA student projects are featured throughout the city. The visitors shared with PNCA ways Tsukuba University student art projects are featured throughout Tsukuba city. That was really cool!

Although the Tsukuba delegation came on study tour to learn Portland’s innovation and efforts to make a green city,  Portland learned a lot about successful projects in Japan as well.

View from the roof of PNCA's newly renovated building in Old Town, Portland








Student Update: Study Abroad in Argentina

Adriane Ackerman is a First Stop Portland Student Assistant studying in Rosario, Argentina this fall. She'll be posting her notes from the field throughout the term.

Since May, 2105, I have had the opportunity to work with First Stop Portland where I have learned from and, at times, presented alongside Portland’s premiere innovators and experts in sustainable city design and development. Participating in professional conversations with public and private sector leaders from around the world has given me a new lens through which to consider policy and planning choices at the municipal level.

University buildings lining Plaza San Martín
This lens has proved invaluable to my studies at Portland State, including my senior Honors thesis, which examines ways cities (including Portland) use planning policy to cultivate democracy. My work at First Stop has helped me understand how to ask the right questions when looking to learn from cities around the world. Now it's helping me here, while I'm studying, researching (and submitting blog posts!) from Rosario, Argentina, this term.


First Stop helps St. Louis tap Portland's bicycling brain trust

Submitted by: Adriane Ackerman
Student Assistant, First Stop Portland

At First Stop Portland, we’re an ambitious group. We facilitate peer-to-peer exchanges about best practices between Portland's experts and leaders the world over. We promote Portland State University as a leader in the global conversation about sustainability. We help cities achieve their goals by sharing lessons from Portland, our successes and our failures.

Since our ultimate goal is successful knowledge exchange, it is particularly rewarding when a group asks us to host a hands-on, working and planning experience for them, in which the Portland model can be influential and the fruits of the exchange are tangible and immediate. This week we were afforded just such an opportunity as we facilitated a design charrette for alternative transportation leaders from St. Louis, MO, heading into the final phases of a major bike route expansion project.


#PDXinRome ~ SPQR is our PDX

First Stop Portland Director Nancy Hales is in Rome for a two-day summit on cities and climate change hosted at the Vatican by Pope Francis and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. She'll be updating us on her experiences and observations as she meets with leaders from around the globe throughout the week.


You can follow her updates in real-time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

SPQR is our PDX. It is stamped everywhere in Rome: on manhole covers, corners of buildings, even bar napkins.  Senatus Populusque Romanus means "the Senate and People of Rome," and is almost as old as the city itself.  How old you ask?  Rome was founded April 17, 753 BC.

One would think that a city founded 27 centuries ago would have little in common with one only begun in 1851. Ha! I found multiple connections for the civitas. Here are my top seven:

1. Claiming two founding fathers and legends: Rome’s founding fathers were Romulus and Remus. They also claim being nursed by a she-wolf. Portland’s fathers, Francis Pettigrove and Asa Lovejoy, don’t have such auspicious beginnings, but did have that famous coin toss.


Prepping for #PDXinRome: Advice, protocol, and a bronze rose

First Stop Portland Director Nancy Hales is in Rome for a two-day summit on cities and climate change hosted at the Vatican by Pope Francis and the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. She'll be updating us on her experiences and observations as she meets with leaders from around the globe throughout the week.


You can follow her updates in real-time on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.


How do you prepare for a meeting with the Pope? What to take, wear, say, and ponder before arriving at the Vatican? Charlie and I spent the last few weeks in a crash course on these and other questions, with the welcome help of many knowledgeable Portlanders.

We’re now on our way, our luggage packed full with briefing materials and extra copies of Pope Francis’ #Encyclical Laudato Si. Also included is a small gift from Portland for the Pope.

I’ve learned a lot about our city in this whirlwind of preparation.  This Pope, a Jesuit who took the name Francis is beloved by many, many Portlanders. Our students at PSU all call him “the cool Pope.” More than once I’ve heard him referred to as “the Portland Pope.” And it comes as no surprise that the Encyclical reads in many places like our own Climate Action Plan and other earnest efforts by our progressive city to be a good steward of the environment, and of people. 

Of the many preparatory meetings we’ve attended, one in particular stands out for me. It was our first, actually, with Portland’s Archbishop Alexander Sample.  What was scheduled as a brief “official meet & greet” became an almost two hour session of serious and thoughtful conversation.  He and Charlie covered everything from homelessness to mountain biking in Forest Park.  “Wow,” I thought quietly, “He gets it.”    

As we were leaving I asked Archbishop Sample the question I would ask everyone, “In your mind, what is the most important thing Charlie should bring to the Vatican?”   

“Bring humility and love,” Archbishop Sample answered. “If you bring your humility and love, you will be open to whatever Portland needs for you to bring back home.”


Waste no time! Eurasian waste management executives study Portland's best practices

Submitted by: Sarah Iannarone
Assistant Director, First Stop Portland

The last time the U.S. Department of Commerce brought its SABIT (Special American Business Internship Training Program) to town, a delegation of construction company executives were wowed when they kicked the tires on the then-under-construction Edith Green Wendell Wyatt Federal and OHSU/OUS Collaborative Life Sciences buildings, among others. (To refresh your memory, here's the blog post on that visit.)

This time around, the Feds brought eighteen Eurasian executives from the public and private sectors to study Portland's policies and best practices for managing and reducing municipal solid waste. They met with Portland companies, industry associations, and government reps to gather intel on trends, innovations, standards, and regulations relating to collection and transfer, landfill management, material recovery, reprocessing, and waste to energy systems.

It's a good thing "Waste not, want not" is gospel to these experts, whose visit to Portland coincided with the American Memorial Day Holiday, which forced First Stop compact what would have several days' material into little more than a day. How did we cover the breadth of Portland's waste management activities in such a short time frame? We, of course, relied on the knowledge and wisdom of our local experts.


Reflections from "The Magic City"-- Miami, Florida

Submitted by: Sarah Iannarone
Assistant Director, First Stop Portland

Last week, I traveled to Miami to discuss with urban scholars from around the world the dynamics of placemaking in the global city. This included a presentation on lessons from First Stop Portland about how cities learn. The audience feedback was resoundingly positive!

View of downtown from Sunset Harbor, Miami Beach
Throughout the week, I had a chance to explore Miami, a city remarkably different from Portland--culturally, geographically, and economically.

Esperito Santo Plaza, CBD
What hit me first, apart from the tropical humidity, was the diversity—people of many colors and languages and social classes moving through a shared space in a manner that seemed choreographed, as if co-habitation had been negotiated over time such that it was no longer contested but almost embraced. Wandering the streets, the Miami I experienced was likewise diverse, composed  of a wide variety of urban forms.

There was the mirrored glass and steel high-rises of the powerhouse Financial District, “Gateway to the Americas,” where the typical American central business district ethos (and street population) reigns, including the mass exodus of automobiles from parking garages, followed by an eerily quiet street life after 5pm.