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GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

STUDENT PRESENTERS

Organized By Presentation Subject Material

 

ABIGAIL BRADLEY-GILBERT '23

MAJOR: GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR DRISTI NEOG, REGIONAL PLANNING

Meghalaya’s Living Root Bridges: A Global Lesson in Sustainable Architecture

In the United States, the approach to land use planning is problematic because of the over-exploitation of natural resources. Typical building projects involve clearing the land of natural growth in order to build structures that meet the needs of commercial or private landowners. By contrast, the people of Meghalaya in Northeast India cultivate and work with indigenous raw materials. The objective of my research is to determine what can be learned from these sustainable land use planning practices. My project examines land use planning that incorporates employing F. elastica which is indigenous to what is considered the wettest region in the world. These structures are known as Living Root Bridges which allow the natives of Meghalaya to traverse the harsh landscape prone to flooding during the monsoon season. I conducted a comprehensive review of the available literature including scientific reports, news articles, video presentations, radio features, and census data. Research into the Khasi methods of using F. elastica to connect terrain during monsoon season can help inform ways to address the implications of climate change on architecture and design. Typical building materials such as concrete, stone and asphalt add to the production of heat in cities augmenting the use of air conditioning and electricity, whereas plants are cooling agents that also absorb carbon dioxide and provide oxygen to the atmosphere. The innovative use of indigenous materials by the Khasi people can serve to inspire land use and urban design in the U.S. and around the world as we strive to create structures that will address and mitigate the challenges climate change causes for future generations.

ZACHARY BRODY '21

MAJOR: GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

What Planners Should Know About Community Paramedicine

The goal of this project is to shine a spotlight on a new way of accessing healthcare for a community through Community Paramedicine. By using paramedics to provide at home or in community primary medical care, it alleviates the use of emergency services. It decreases 911 use, hospital readmissions, and improves patient outcomes. Articles were reviewed to collect data on regions that have implemented Community Paramedicine. Common themes were identified across the various studies to highlight important aspects and benefits. The research revealed that Community Paramedicine is beneficial on many different levels, it not only provides healthcare access to those in the community that may need it, it also improves their lives. It improves healthcare outcomes, decreases use of 911 services, decreases Emergency Department use for non-emergent issues, improves community trust in healthcare givers and is shown to have cost savings for patients and services. There are significant benefits to implementing Community Paramedicine, from providing paramedics a new direction in their career to positive outcomes for the patients it serves including decreased healthcare costs.

BRYANT DANA '21

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

Exploring the Most Important Green Roof Design Practices for Massachusetts

Climate Change has been negatively affecting our planet for years and in recent years scientists have researched combating the issue of climate change with sustainable practices such as green roofs. Green roofs have been shown not to cause environmental degradation, which is critical for positive change in the health of our planet. Green roofs are a sustainable practice that is on the rise but the location of where a specific green roof is installed and its design can have major constrictions. Looking at Massachusetts specifically, interviews and content analysis were used to gather data to understand the experience of designing a green roof located in Massachusetts. The data gathered from the interviews and content analysis will provided valuable information, on green roof design practices to consider in Massachusetts specifically.

JACK DUNCAN '22

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & COMMUNITY PLANNING

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

A Site Suitability Analysis to Determine the Optimal Location for a Community Garden in Mendon, MA

Mendon, Massachusetts is a great candidate for a community garden, but the process of finding the ideal location for the garden within the town can be difficult, so this project uses survey data and existing suitability analyses to conduct a weighted site suitability analysis to assist the process. The survey was used to gain insight on whether or not the community wanted a garden, and where they would want it to be located. Based on the survey and several existing site suitability analyses, the criteria for the community garden parcel will include the following, in order of importance: at least 6 hours of sunlight, within a 3 minute drive from to center of Mendon, at least 200 meters away from a public water source, an area of at least 10,000 meters squared, on a slope that is no more than 12 percent, and on either a south, southwest or southeast facing slope. The final parcels will be looked at in detail to determine which would be the most suitable for the community garden.

TARYN EGERTON '21

MAJOR: POLITICAL SCIENCE & GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

College Student’s Acceptance of Affordable Housing

Public participation is a vital aspect of the public planning process, so it is incredibly important to understand how the words used in a policy or presentation may result in positive or negative reactions from the public. Looking further into this concept with a focus on affordable housing, Edward Goetz (2008) evaluated suburban residents to determine whether the term “affordable housing” versus “lifecycle house” would be better received in a survey. This study takes a narrower angle and focuses on the same concept with 17-24 year old undergraduate students at Westfield State University. As the University is broken down into three colleges, this study looked within each college to find similarities and differences between the majors. As similar majors might have similar ideologies, this analysis allowed for more accurate data. The survey was emailed out on a Friday night, as there is less email traffic during that time, increasing the likelihood of a student seeing the survey and filling it out. The anticipated results of this study is that lifecycle housing will be viewed as more favorable than affordable housing and that the stigma surrounding affordable housing has caused more people to disagree with it. This issue is important to understand so that planners can develop policies and presentations with the knowledge that the words used within these documents can negatively or positively influence the person.

VINNY EKMALIAN '21

MAJOR: GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY & ECONOMICS

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

Springfield Country Club: A Reflection of Sustainability in Golf

As talks of sustainability continue to be of the utmost concern of most growing industries that case is no different in the golf industry. Sustainability in the golf industry follows the same form of sustainability of other sectors. This includes integrating the “three E’s” of sustainability, which in the golf industry are environmental quality, economic operations, and enjoyment on the course. Golf is an industry that was impacted by COVID in many ways, but it seems to be that the popularity of the sport has risen in the past year. To get a better look into sustainability in the golf industry four important people in the golf sector from Springfield Country Club were interviewed to see where the mindset of sustainability stands for a prominent course in Western Massachusetts. The interviews will illuminate the current status and potential for sustainable practices at Springfield Country Club and based on this data, additional recommendations can be identified. Improving accessibility will end up being a main concern on how to improve sustainability, whether that be by continuing to expand the membership, making the game cheaper for all to enjoy, or something new. It is such a great game that has a lot of life benefits and is a game you can play for all of your life so it is important that the industry continues to keep up with what it must do.

JASON HAJI '21

MAJOR: GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

A Social Capital Perspective on Improving Public Engagement in Lower Income Communities

Public engagement is an important way to gather information and to understand the vision of the community, but there are many factors that limit community members from engaging. Lower income communities often encounter many more of these limitations, both social factors as well as constraints of daily life. Obstacles that are often encountered with public engagement is a lack of ownership felt for the community, family and work commitments, or just no desire to engage due to social factors (Mullenbach and Baker, 2019). This study looks at the social limitations of engagement through addressing both public participation and social capital in lower income communities and providing the best methods to improve engagement. Social capital and public engagement are often addressed in research as one and the same, this has led to the conclusion that building social capital in these communities can accommodate many problems extending past public participation. Content analysis was used to analyze both public engagement and social capital as individual elements of improving engagement in lower income communities. Results of this study can indicate the most efficient form of public engagement for low income communities as well as ways in which both public engagement and social capital are separate entities but can complement one another.

OLIVIA R. HOUDE '22

MAJOR: GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR SAMUEL NDEGEAH, REGIONAL PLANNING

A Global Perspective: How Sister City relationships influence urban planners

Over time, cities worldwide have experienced rapid population growth, making cities a central focal point for leading the world to a more socially, environmentally, and economically conscious future. Cities are critical to sustainable development, which according to the 1983 Brundtland Commission, is the development that "meets the needs of the present without compromising future generations' ability to meet their own needs." According to the United Nations (UN), 2007 marked the year when more people inhabited urban areas than their rural counterparts. The UN 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted in 2015, provides a shared blueprint for peace and prosperity for people and the planet, now and into the future. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 11th SDG seeks to "make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable." Sister City relationships are one of the ways cities play a role in an increasingly globalized world. After World War II, the US wanted to develop bonds with cities internationally in a post-war peacemaking effort. In 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower introduced the organization Sister Cities International. The relations grant cities an opportunity to learn from each other by exchanging ideas, technology, and information. This research, using content analysis seeks to review, retrospectively, the origin of pairing cities and get a glimpse into how sister city relationships can inform urban planning between each city.

CONNOR McCORDICK '21

MAJOR: GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

Responding to an RFP for the redevelopment of a property

Vacant land can be an issue in communities for a number of reasons including that it can be an eyesore or potential health hazard. The property known as the Gemini Site in the South End Neighborhood of Springfield, MA is one such example that the City is looking to redevelop into multifamily housing. They have issued a RFP (Request for Proposals) for the purchase and redevelopment of this site. The purpose of this project is to create a response to the RFP that is on par with what would be submitted to the City professionally. The method used for this project is a content analysis. It was conducted by taking the goals listed by the City for the RFP and using that as the basis for the content analysis research. For each of the 8 goals listed, 4-5 sources were identified. The results of the content analysis include strategies to enhance a multifamily development such as providing adequate green space and social relationship building opportunities This project is important because it addresses a need for the City of Springfield and from the public view while fitting in to the surrounding neighborhood. The results show an example of a real-life case study as well as strategies for researching and responding to an RFP effectively.

BRIAN MOURA '21

MAJOR: GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

A Comparison of Tokyo, Japan Versus New York City Rail Ridership

This study examines whether timing reliability and route coverage impact the rail ridership trends in New York City and Tokyo, Japan. The study also examines demographic trends of ridership in these two cities. This research aims to look at an international case study of rail ridership and assess whether lessons learned from this case study can be applicable in the United States. Content analysis was used to evaluate an array of journal articles relating to rail ridership and community accessibility to the rail system. Results of this study can help inform improvements each city could explore for application to their public transportation plans and policies.

BRITTANY PHILLIPO '21

MAJOR: BUSINESS MANAGEMENT & GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR CARSTEN BRAUN & PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

Sustainability in the Fashion Industry

The current state of the fashion industry is in complete disarray considering the environment, and ethical labor. Constantly, the systems are abused by large fast fashion corporations that take advantage of the cheap labor costs with no concern for the workers and the environment. However, there are many fashion brands working to stop these normalized practices and produce clothing that is ethically and sustainably made. These brands work to reduce the environmental impact in any aspect that they can through the fabrics and textiles, water and energy consumption, ethical labor, recycled and organic materials etc. Online sources were used to gather specific and relevant data about ten sustainable and ethical fashion brands. A matrix was created outlining the variables that should be highlighted including labor rights, raw materials, carbon footprint, waste management, water usage, distribution and packaging, third party certifications, minority owned businesses, animal welfare, and transparency. Overall, there was a trend in focus within the raw materials and ethical labor sections, while many brands did not assess their waste and water management or third party certifications. The challenges faced by consumers to make sustainable and ethical shopping decisions is prevalent in the disjointed array of information collected from each brand.

CAITLIN RACHMACIEJ '22

MAJOR: ENVIRONMENTAL SCIENCE & GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

An Analysis of the Westfield Riverfront Redevelopment's Green Building Potential

After the Great River Bridge Project was completed in 2012 in Westfield, MA, the City of Westfield desired to expand the area's attractions by developing a sustainable site to provide mixed use and recreational space that would be inclusive and enjoyable for all. Therefore, research was conducted in order to determine if the Riverfront Redevelopment proposal on Elm St. would be suitable for the highest standards for green building certification, such as LEED Platinum and The Living Building Challenge. A site analysis was completed to answer the important questions that would inform this determination. For example, the location, utilities, and composition of the surrounding area were analyzed. The general requirements for both LEED Platinum certification as well as The Living Building Challenge were also reviewed. A matrix was created to analyze the level of potential of the redevelopment site. After using the data collected to populate the matrix it was found that the riverfront area in Westfield is a strong potential site for the highest level of green building certification. The findings determined that most of the qualifications such as south facing windows, renewable energy, access to nature and beauty, and open space availability had very high potential. Although some of the issues including floodplain restrictions and uneven topography also must be considered, these are obstacles that can be overcome with professional solutions. The research conducted is a stepping stone towards achieving Westfield’s goals of becoming a more sustainable, efficient, and accessible city that meets the needs of every individual.

ROSE RUSSELL '21

MAJOR: GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

Inequity in Access to Parks in Westfield, MA

This research project examined how accessible and equitable parks are in Westfield, MA. This is an important topic because access to parks can be a critical health indicator. Parks promote healthy behavior, have positive mental health benefits and provide socialization that is vital to child development. (Talen, Emily. “The Spatial Logic of Parks) Equitable quality of parks to the population they are serving is more important than having the same level of access. While low-income groups may live closer to parks, the parks aren’t guaranteed to be the same quality and provide a safe environment that enables opportunity for physical activity and other health benefits. In the site analysis three parks in Westfield were analyzed on a variety of characteristics, including park features, available parking, sidewalk condition, crosswalks, road speed, distance to schools, distance to bus stops, available public facilities, etc. These frameworks were used to evaluate the accessibility and the quality of each park. Additionally a network analysis was performed in ArcGIS to create a 5, 10 and 15 minute walking time buffer zone around each park that shows the distance you could walk to a park in 15 minutes or under. It’s anticipated that the results of this study will find that Westfield lacks an adequate number of parks for the population size, and inequitable to the downtown population. The results can be used to identify areas that have inequitable access to parks and could be potential sites for new parks in the city.

ALYSSA TULLOCK '21

MAJOR: GEOGRAPHY, PLANNING, AND SUSTAINABILITY

FACULTY SPONSOR: PROFESSOR ALINA GROSS, REGIONAL PLANNING

Examining Emergency Food Access in Western Massachusetts Using ArcGIS

Among the four beautiful counties that make up Western Massachusetts, hunger looms over one in every eight people. According to Feeding America, one in every eleven people in Massachusetts are suffering from food insecurity, and while more people are going hungry, there are far less resources for emergency food access in Western Massachusetts than in the rest of the state. Over the past year, the COVID-19 pandemic has changed nearly everything, and more families around the globe are facing hunger than ever before. In looking at Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire counties we raise the question, what does emergency food access look like in Western Massachusetts, and how has it been affected by COVID-19? The purpose of this research is to use programs ArcGIS Pro and ArcGIS Online to look at the accessibility of emergency food to residents of Western Massachusetts in times both before and during the COVID-19 Pandemic on interactive maps, while building charts and graphs as supporting figures. This research will assist us in learning which communities are suffering with no or little access to emergency food, and what kind of resources are in place for cities and rural towns in Western Massachusetts. The results of this study will aid plans to improve food accessibility and hunger in communities close to home, and act as a resource to assist in finding emergency food in these communities.