Two teams of University of Arizona and community partners have received seed grants to develop a neighborhood greenway in Tucson and engage Native American youth in sustainability and tribal land-use practices in Native nations.
Now in its second year of awarding the grants, the Agnese Nelms Haury Program in Environment and Social Justice also has selected its next round of challenge grant finalists, who will present their proposals for the $600,000 award in April, and announced three new Haury Fellows whose work centers on social justice and the environment.
"This year's seed and fellows awardees and challenge finalists expand the Haury program into additional focus areas. We are very excited about these impressive teams working on innovative ways of addressing important challenges in social justice and the environment,” said Anna Spitz, director of the Haury program.
Grants for Green Infrastructure, Land Stewardship
Seed grants provide support for up to two years for new projects that are just getting off the ground. In a rigorous review process, grant proposals were required to demonstrate the capacity to develop socially just solutions to environmental problems through authentic UA-community partnerships.
The Haury program awarded one team $79,153 to pilot a project to increase community input into a neighborhood greenway along the Liberty Bike Boulevard in southern Tucson, a low-income and flood-prone area. Andrea Gerlak, an associate professor in the UA School of Geography and Development, and Adriana Zuniga-Teran, a postdoctoral research associate at the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy, lead the team in collaboration with Catlow Shipek from the Watershed Management Group.
An aim of the project is to provide a safe, pleasant route for exercise, recreation and transportation for students getting to one of 18 K-12 schools within a half-mile of the corridor. The project will address flooding and the urban heat island effect, in which cities are significantly warmer than surrounding rural areas, by redesigning the drainage and greenery around the bike path.
Additionally, the project is designed to strengthen ties among community members, city officials, neighborhood leaders, University scientists and local non-governmental organizations, Zuniga-Teran said. She added that relationships formed through community engagement create a larger network that in turn can help residents access more local opportunities and programs.
Other partners involved in the project include Living Street Alliance and the Sonoran Institute, two Tucson-based organizations concerned with environmental preservation and community transformation. The team also will collaborate with the city of Tucson's Department of Transportation, the Bicycle and Pedestrian Program, Tucson Water Department, and Ward 1 and Ward 5 officials.
The second seed grant, for $49,309, was awarded to a team led by Leisy Wyman, associate professor in the UA College of Education, to involve Native youth, specifically young men, in land-use practices and stewardship for indigenous communities. Wyman's community partners are Melodie Lopez, founder and president of Indigenous Strategies and Native Education Alliance, and Eric Dhruv, project director at Ironwood Experience, an organization whose mission is to connect youth with their communities through nature.
The project grew out of Lopez's previous work with tribal education leaders and will move forward with a series of listening sessions with Native teens from around Arizona. Land stewardship, including roles in agriculture, management, policy, preservation and education, could provide necessary opportunities for young Native American men to "grow up to be successful men in their tribes, and do the things that keep our tribes whole," Lopez said.
The project will bring teens to the Santa Rita Mountains for outdoor education activities and will organize meetings among stakeholders, youth and elders across tribal affiliations.
Challenge Grant Finalists
The challenge grant calls on interdisciplinary teams of UA and community members to create systemic and transformational changes for society and the environment. The challenge grant will fund one project for up to $200,000 per year for three years. The Haury program will announce the awardee during a presentation of the three proposals on April 25.
The finalists are "Developing a Toolkit to Improve Water Resilience in the San Pedro Watershed," led by Jan Holder of the Tucson Audubon Society in partnership with the Water Resource Research Center; "Preparing the Next Generation of Hispanic and Native American Innovators," led by Gerardo Lopez, assistant professor and STEM extension specialist in the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences, in partnership with UA colleges and local school districts, the Tohono O'odham Nation and Indigenous Strategies LLC; and "The Lost Sea: Voices of Sustainable Fishing in the Gulf of California," led by Cody Sheehy, video production coordinator in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, in partnership with Comunidad y Biodiversidad and local community members.
Two Scholars, Playwright Receive Fellowships
The newly announced faculty fellows are Vicki Karanikola, assistant research professor in the Department of Chemical and Environmental Engineering, and Ben Wilder, interim director of Tumamoc Hill in Tucson. The visiting fellow is playwright Virginia Grise.
Karanikola and Wilder received two-year fellowships beginning in January. During her two-week visiting fellowship, Grise will collaborate with Borderlands Theater to adapt Helena Viramontes' novel "Their Dogs Came with Them" to the stage. The story centers on a Mexican-American community in 1960s Los Angeles and the destructive effects of urban planning. Grise also will hold writing workshops with UA students.