EcoDistricts Research Forum: City as Lab
EcoDistricts is committed to forging direct synergy between sustainable development researchers and city builders throughout North America. Now in its third year, the EcoDistricts Research Forum, offered as a shoulder to the annual EcoDistricts Summit, aims to accelerate both cutting edge research practices and the collaborative use of findings to achieve meaningful outcomes for our cities.
On September 15, the 2016 EcoDistricts Research Forum in Denver, CO at the University of Colorado campus showcased exceptional examples of researcher-practitioner collaboration across North America while diving into the most critical research needs for district-scale development, from filling the equity gap, to effective community engagement, and scaling up innovation.
A total of 89 practitioners and faculty attended from as far away as Tokyo, Japan, spanning 5 countries, 22 states or provinces, and 36 cities. A complete report of the Research Forum will be published separately by early December 2016.
As we work with regional and national partners to bring the Research Forum back to the 2017 Summit in Atlanta, GA, we invite you to explore the 2016 program below.
Thursday, September 15, 2016
UNIVERSITY OF DENVER
Margery Reed Hall, Room 201
OPENING REMARKS + CONTEXT SETTING
PLENARY SESSION: LONG-TERM, CROSS-SECTOR RESEARCH & URBAN REGENERATION IN DENVER
Using the City as Lab, researchers across institutions and departments in Colorado are working in two Denver neighborhoods to advance urban regeneration at the district scale. Momentum has been growing in Denver to engage researchers and students in urban regeneration initiatives in West Denver around the Sun Valley EcoDistrict neighborhood and in north Denver around the National Western Center. In this panel, we described the efforts of three universities alongside the City of Denver and CityCraft® Ventures and local neighborhoods to build an integrative research center.
PLENARY: UNUSUAL PARTNERS: WHO'S DRIVING COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH, AND WHAT'S THE MODEL FOR SUCCESS?
Panelists representing academia, the public and private sector presented effective collaborative and cross-disciplinary research programs that are changing the urban landscape. The panel explored the processes needed to support collaborative research, and conditions that hamper effectiveness. While the programs are being led from different sectors, panelists discussed the similarities and differences in approaches, from team organization to protocols and behaviors that make the programs successful. A moderated dialogue addressed questions ranging from whether the Science of Team Science is informing approaches; are there resources available that provides guidance; do teams follow a set of principles; are there technology tools that facilitate collaboration; and more. Panelists also discussed how place-based and evidence-based science is being translated by cities and communities to create more positive outcomes.
NETWORKING LUNCH + TABLETOP DISCUSSIONS
Joy Burns Hall, Tuscan Ballroom
INTERACTIVE WORKSHOP SESSIONS
Opening Up the Black Box of Research-Practice Partnerships
This interactive workshop brought together practitioners and researchers committed to elevating sustainability work at the neighborhood scale and to talk about how research-industry partnerships can be done well. Researchers from the Ecourbanism Worldwide project guided the collaborative construction of a more explicit, formalized research partnership template for take away by participants. Panelists discussed significant lessons learned at their interface of research and practice. Reflections were followed by group conversations between participants. Action steps to follow up on post-workshop lead to the formalization of a set of guidelines for effective research-practice partnerships in EcoDistricts research.
Tool Time: Translating Research into Usable Tools for Community Health
Research translation is about taking research and putting it to effective use. To advance community sustainability, this must include an integrated approach for both study and application, within the city context. The session began with a brief introduction of that principle and a City as Lab context. Then the tools that are in the “Toolshed” were highlighted in a World Cafe style session. Tools include Community-Focused Exposure and Risk Screening Tool (C-FERST); Health Impact Assessments (HIA) and plug-ins; and EnviroAtlas. The session ended with a discussion of how these tools integrate community decision making and research, and how this research can be better integrated or focused to better serve community sustainability.
Using Urban Sustainability Indicators for Data-Driven Planning and Management
This panel explored the use of indicators and metrics to track progress and outcomes within urban areas undergoing transformation, including EcoDistricts. Presenters explained why indicators are valuable, present a typology of indicators, and discuss the various urban sustainability indicator protocols that currently exist and how those could be applied to or improved for use with EcoDistricts, as well as discussed what types of outcomes and inputs should be measured, at what scale, and in what way. Chris Parr presented the perspective from Denver Housing Authority and discussed how this organization uses indicators to help measure progress and meet its goals in Sun Valley and elsewhere.
The Research Forum concluded with a collaborative conversation on the development of elements of action plan to advance cross-disciplinary, place-based research.