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Thursday, March 15, 2012

PSU Students' GOOD Ideas for Portland

Posted by Alex Zielinski on Thu, Mar 15, 2012 at 11:59 AM

Last night, LA-based GOOD magazine came back to host a second GOOD Ideas for Cities event, this time featuring the work of Portland State University students. Following the layout of February's Ziba event (where top Portland creatives faced city design challenges), students in PSU's Design Thinking course presented their ideas on how to improve the city to a panel of Portland creatives (including our very own Sarah Mirk).

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Of the five presentations, there were some great ideas and some that needed a little more hashing out. The best part was seeing all of these students so amped up about city projects and community development. You could literally see the creative gears turning. Here's a quick run down (after the jump) of the projects—due to the dark room, my photos turned out gloomy and sad, so bear with my descriptions.

TEAM TRANSPORTATION

The Challenge: How to tackle the daunting TriMet budget gap?
The Solution: Make it fun. Have vending machines on the MAX, jazz up boring bus passes with coupons for local buisnesses, save up old passes for a free ride, put WiFi on all buses, have a day of no service to gain riders' respect.
The Reactions: The last blackout idea struck a nerve with the panel. Who would that day affect most? Folks who depend on the bus to get to work, run errands, pick up their kids from school, etc. Many people don't casually ride the bus. But! The idea of keeping one bus or train empty as a real-life infographic showing the chunk of cuts needed to keep TriMet afloat stuck.

TEAM GOOD TIMES

The Challenge:Portlanders hibernate during the winter. How do we bring them outside?
The Solution: Set up large heated tents in Portland's popular parks as a space for free community events, pop-up art shows, concerts, classes and more.
The Reactions: Who pays for the tent? Who takes care of it if it tears, falls over, etc? What happens if homeless folks use it as a dry resting spot? The group mentioned a partnership with the city parks' department and made clear it wasn't another Occupy encampment.

TEAM RESCUE

The Challenge: How do we create a more usable and reactionary citywide emergency alert system?
The Solution: Turn the buses into a movable alert system. When needed, bus marquees will flash red, sound a prerecorded warning and wave a red flag. Same goes for all downtown bus stops (equipped with a bonus ladder to climb on top of them in case of a flood). Also, host a fun event for Portlanders to become informed on emergency protocol and get a free emergency kit.
The Reactions: This is clever! But, shouldn't we be a bit more serious about emergency situations? Will a hip event do the trick? Also, what happens to the bus after the driver heads for the hills? It's hard to tell what really will go down once a city-wide emergency sets in.

TEAM BAGS OF FUN

The Challenge: How do we make the idea of bringing a reusable bag to the store fun?
The Solution: DR. PLASTO vs. BAGMAN! ie: get kids invested in the issue. Also give kids incentives to pick up plastic bags on the street by giving them prizes for turning them in at stores. Soon, parents will be as excited as the kids.
The Reactions: This is adorable and could definitely work, once it's hashed out a little more. Watch out for syringes/homeless people inside of plastic bags.

TEAM FRONT PORCH

The Challenge: Portland is too disconnected from the mighty Willamette River. How do we change that?
The Solution: Float lighted orbs (wasn't sure what they were exactly) on the river at night to make it look pretty. Have a river Taxi to force people to look at the water. Have floating gardens on the river. Put a swing set on the river bank.
The Reactions: Questionable. Really? Floating gardens? Have you seen those huge barges that go through the city? But the panel was sold on the taxi idea, especially for summer transport to Sauvie Island.

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