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Maryland Students Sweep 2020 Sustainable Growth Challenge Awards

By Maggie Haslam / Mar 31, 2020 / Updated Apr 29, 2020

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Historic Photo of Cedar Haven
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Photo by Dan Reed.
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Photo courtesy of Dan Reed.
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URSP students and faculty in front of Harford County Government.

Three graduate-level teams from the University of Maryland’s School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation took top honors at the 2020 Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission’s Sustainable Growth Challenge Awards, sweeping the competition with projects that demonstrate creative solutions to sustainability challenges in Maryland communities. The projects—a sustainable plan for development in growth-limited Harford County, a heritage trail capturing the rich African-American history of Maryland’s first black resort towns and a toolkit for minority-owned businesses along the Purple Line—were selected from six finalists that presented to the commission in February.

“Engaging our Maryland communities to help solve pressing sustainability challenges and promote a rich quality of life is a central part of our mission as a school and as a university,” said Donald Linebaugh, Dean of the School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation. “The student work demonstrated through these projects is truly outstanding and sets a standard for the work we strive to produce as citizen servants.”

The Sustainable Growth Challenge highlights student-driven projects from Maryland colleges and universities that tackle real-world sustainability challenges in economic development, the environment, land use, community and culture. Competing teams comprise students at both the undergraduate and graduate level and pull from a number of disciplines; this year’s entries included students in agriculture, business development, landscape architecture, urban planning and historic preservation.

“The work of the Maryland Sustainable Growth Commission is fulfilling, vital and impactful,” said Sustainable Growth Commission Chair Susan Summers. “I take my role as its chair very seriously, but I have the most fun each year when college students from around the state present their award-winning projects to the commission. Their exemplary efforts inspire greater enthusiasm in our effort as an advisory body, and encourage us to maintain and strengthen our engagement with the next generation of Maryland’s leaders in sustainability.”  

All three of the winning projects were coordinated through the university’s Partnership for Action Learning in Sustainability (PALS) program. They are:

“A Framework for Preservation and Growth in Creswell” 

Student team: Bilal Ali, Sarah Latimer, Nick MacKereth, Kari Nye, Russ Ottalini, Jerah Smith, AnnaLinden Weller

Faculty advisor: Uri Avin

In collaboration with Harford County Department of Planning, graduate students from UMD’s Urban Studies and Planning Program devised a framework for sustainable, strategic growth for the Creswell area in Harford County, Maryland, balancing the county’s rural character with a pressing need for more housing. The team’s plan won most outstanding student project of 2019 by the Maryland Chapter of the American Planning Association and second place in the American Planning Association’s 2020 Student Project Awards. Read more about the project.

“Long Life for Long Branch: Tools to Preserve Independent Retailers”

Student team: Carrie Anderson-Watters, Anna Brinley, Will Duggan, Ellen Kortesoja, Lily Murnen, Kari Nye

Faculty advisor: Bobby Boone

Graduate students from the Urban Studies and Planning Program partnered with Montgomery and Prince George’s Counties to devise feasible strategies to preserve independent and ethnic businesses along the corridor. Recommendations include implementing a neighborhood equity coordinator and leveraging social benefits and services provided to the community—such as after school programming—to attract tax credits and grants. Read more about this project.

“Changing Landscapes: Farmsteads and Resort Towns”

Student Team: Sara Baum, Grace Davenport, Amy Duan, Josette Graham, Kathleen Jockel, Veronica Martin, Tamara Schlossenberg, Hassan Tariq

Faculty advisor: Paula Nasta (doctoral student)

A heritage trail and comprehensive guide that captures the rich African American history of southern Prince George’s County navigates the cultural milestones of nearly 150 years in the region—from the early tobacco economy to reconstruction to the state’s first African-American resort towns. The trail, which is designed to be experienced by bike, captures the places and moments that have shaped this region and adds an important narrative to African American history. Read more about the project here.

This year’s awards ceremony, which was slated for a March, will be rescheduled after the COVID-19 restrictions are lifted.