The Geneva Neighborhood Resource Center (GNRC) hosted the first of five focus groups for the City of Geneva Parks Master Plan on June 19.
The discussion for the focus group was based around sustainability, and was facilitated by five interns from the Hobart and William Smith Colleges’ Finger Lakes Institute Community Design Center, Stacey Davis ‘15, Caroline Demeter ‘15, Jordan Mueller ‘15, Shani Saul ‘15 and Rousseau Nutter ‘16.
Each student intern presented on different sustainability technologies and techniques covering topics such as green infrastructure, food and waste, landscaping, and physical infrastructure designs that Geneva parks could incorporate to help make the parks more environmentally friendly.
The student interns researched both national and international sustainability technologies and structures in order to compile the best sustainability practices that members of the Geneva community could take into consideration while working on the master plan.
Cari Varner, project manager and instructor of the Community Design Center & Sustainable Community Development Program who has been working directly with the interns this summer, is encouraged by the commitment that Geneva and HWS have made in helping the surrounding community more sustainable.
“It’s really wonderful that Geneva is making parks a priority and making sustainability a part of that. Geneva is ahead of the curve in integrating sustainability in parks. Making sustainability a priority and for a small town to take this challenge head on is great,” she says.
HWS students have been working with the Geneva community for more than two years helping to make the city a more sustainable and green place to live. This positive relationship between the Geneva community and HWS students is also educational for both members of the Geneva community as well as the students. Geneva community members are able to learn from HWS students through the research the students have conducted about new sustainable options for parks, while at the same time HWS students practice their reporting, researching and presenting skills.
“It is exciting to see sustainable infrastructure and practices become part of our culture,” says Demeter. “Improving sustainability within Geneva is a great opportunity for us to work closely with the community, educate the public, and promote green practices.”
The relationship between the HWS interns and the Geneva community is highly professional and gives the interns real world experience.
“Practicing skills and knowledge learned in classes in a real community is invaluable experience for the interns’ future careers and future endeavors. The city takes this master plan seriously so we are taking it really seriously,” Varner says. We are providing the professionals in Geneva with professional interns from HWS.”
Architecture is playing a significant role in the Geneva Master Plan as well as sustainability research and development. The student interns are interested in incorporating sustainability into their architectural designs.
“I have a passion for both architecture and the environment, so sustainable community development provides the perfect opportunity for me to combine my passions in a practical way,” says Saul. “As part of our research at the Finger Lakes Institute this summer, we hope to provide Geneva with sustainable park design proposals that can be built upon in the future.”
In addition to the sustainability focus group, there will be four other focus groups that discuss music and arts in the park, park features to address healthy living, youth programming, and association participation in park development. These focus groups promote discussions about Geneva that can be talked about openly and directly and therefore solidifies a strong relationship between the Geneva community and HWS.
“The meeting we had with the community was extremely helpful and gave us a good idea of what the community really needs in their parks,” says Nutter. “I love the Geneva community and I love seeing the passion put forth whenever we meet and I am just glad I can do something to hopefully improve the town and their lives, even just a little.”