Feature: Andy Fellows and the Center for Smart Growth

Feature: Andy Fellows and the Center for Smart Growth

(by Haemee Lee)

 

iSchool and Center for Smart Growth joint appointee Andrew Fellows has worked as the regional director of a national environmental organization building watershed coalitions of diverse stakeholders; as the Mayor of College Park strengthening collaborative planning among the City, the University and Prince George's County on areas of common interest; and as a graduate student leader at the University of Maryland in facilitating transdisciplinary research.

 

All of these experiences taught Fellows that there is a strong demand and potential for the University of Maryland and its surrounding communities in sharing strengths and developing sustainable communication channels between regional stakeholders working to improve opportunities, quality of life, and community health. They also inspired him to create the Campus Community Connection (C3) project.

 

The C3 project was developed as a way of getting the university engaged in a sustained way with its surrounding community. This collaboration between the university and communities builds a structure of multiple collaborations so that nothing is one-sided, according to Fellows. In its first year, this pilot project helped to create 50 projects. Aiming at greater sustainability and resilience, the 50 projects take on water management (including stormwater, stream, watershed), carbon footprint, zero waste, traffic management, tree canopy, energy, waste, and transportation.

 

Unincorporated communities near the campus such as Langley Park and East Riverdale joined the four main municipalities of College Park, Hyattsville, Riverdale Park, and University Park, to act as pilot jurisdictions for future efforts that will expand to interaction with the remaining 23 towns and cities and other Prince George’s County communities. Mayors, city councils, staff and residents from these pilot communities helped to identify the 50 projects for collaborative exploration.

 

On campus, the Office of Community Engagement, Graduate Student Government, Office of Sustainability, National Center for Smart Growth, and the iSchool are involved. This translates to a few dozen administrators and faculty, and over 200 students from the undergraduate to graduate level. At the university, these projects need to fulfill research and academic missions, while also fitting within faculty workloads. Identifying promising proposed approaches for tackling any of the projects and implementing solutions take time. In addition, collaborating with the right communities and stakeholding decisionmakers within communities, such as the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission or Prince George’s County Public Schools, is crucial for the projects to be approached in the most locally appropriate context as possible.

 

Campus Community Connection builds on existing relationships –the University is already engaged with sustainability initiatives within healthy food systems, water protection and restoration, the zero waste movement, environmental justice–, and the project aims to have all 14 colleges and schools more involved. “The University is engaged off-campus, but there are many ways to ramp up our partnerships, including the use of  new technologies that can be highly beneficial to our neighboring communities,” Fellows said.

 

The C3 project has many goals, since its growth from the involvement of 26 students last fall to over 200 students in the spring. Fellows hopes for 2,000 students engaged at some level this coming school year. He also hopes to bolster the local engagement of sustainability programs in the University’s experiential learning programs. The Office of Sustainability announced in April that the C3 project won a $50,000 grant from the University of Maryland’s Sustainability Fund.