Category Archives: Student Projects

The University at Buffalo offers opportunities for students to develop expertise in planning for community health and food systems through hands-on planning practicum or planning studios. Students prepare plans on behalf of a client such as community organizations or local governments over the course of a semester. Students engage community members throughout the planning process, as well as learn to generate, analyze, and synthesize a wide quantitative, qualitative, and spatial data in a formal planning report. Practica focused on community health and food systems are often taught by Dr. Raja and supported by other Food Lab team members. Food systems practica offered by the University at Buffalo have been recognized for their excellence regionally and nationally, including earning awards from the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP).

Kid Corridors: An Active Commuting Plan for the Williamsville Central School District (Fall 2009)

The purpose of this planning studio was to develop materials that would encourage and educate children to walk and bicycle to school, and create a “Kids Corridor” plan. Graduate students in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning worked in collaboration with officials of the Town of Amherst, which had received a federal Safe Routes To School grant in conjunction with the Williamsville Central School District. The studio focused on strategies to make walking and biking to school safe and engaging K-8 students and parents in the Williamsville School District as active players in the plan development. The final report recommended the creation of a Town Youth Board subcommittee to oversee the plan and its ongoing development, as well as designating Kids Corridor zones around elementary and middle schools which would be facilitated by policy changes and physical improvements. In addition, the report recommended the distribution of maps of safe walking routes to all parents living within one mile of schools in the district. This project was awarded  the 2010 Outstanding Student Project Award from the Western New York Section of the American Planning Association (WNY APA).

Food for Growth: A Community Food System Plan for Buffalo’s West Side (Fall 2003)

The purpose of this planning studio was to create a community food systems plan for the West Side neighborhood in Buffalo, New York.  Students from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning worked on behalf of the Massachusetts Avenue Project (MAP), a non-profit dedicated to revitalizing urban neighborhoods and improving food security through urban farming and youth leadership development. The students conducted an extensive survey of food stores in the West Side that revealed challenges for residents to access fresh, nutritious foods. The final report made recommendations to strengthen the West Side’s community food system to meet four strategic objectives which include enhancing local food production through supportive land use planning, promoting economic development related to the food system, increasing access to transportation to food sources, and promoting youth development through food-based programming. MAP’s Growing Green program was integral in demonstrating the role of youth in urban farming projects. The report strove to demonstrate the ways in which planning can be used to address food insecurity and strengthen a community food system, and the power of urban neighborhood residents to work towards community revitalization and well-being.

Queen City Gardens Plan: Planning for Community Gardens in the City of Buffalo (2009)

Graduate students in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning PD 525 “Planning for Food Justice” course wrote the plan on behalf of the Buffalo City Council Community Gardens Task Force. The goal of the Queen City Gardens Plan is to foster and protect sustainable community-based garden projects throughout the City of Buffalo. The graduate student team researched the state of community gardens in the City of Buffalo, reviewed municipal policies on community gardens in other cities in the United States, and made recommendations on how best to create and sustain community gardens in the City of Buffalo. The Queen City Gardens plan aimed to provide the task force with information to “enhance the cultural, physical and social environment and provide means for stimulating interaction between community members through the creation and continuance of community gardens”. The plan outlines recommendations to enhance the City’s Comprehensive Land Use and Zoning Code that was in review at the time, and suggests a partnership between City Hall and the greater community to protect and enhance community gardening across the city.

Kid Corridors: An Active Commuting Plan for the Williamsville Central School District (Fall 2009)

The purpose of this planning studio was to develop materials that would encourage and educate children to walk and bicycle to school, and create a “Kids Corridor” plan. Graduate students in the Department of Urban and Regional Planning worked in collaboration with officials of the Town of Amherst, which had received a federal Safe Routes To School grant in conjunction with the Williamsville Central School District. The studio focused on strategies to make walking and biking to school safe and engaging K-8 students and parents in the Williamsville School District as active players in the plan development. The final report recommended the creation of a Town Youth Board subcommittee to oversee the plan and its ongoing development, as well as designating Kids Corridor zones around elementary and middle schools which would be facilitated by policy changes and physical improvements. In addition, the report recommended the distribution of maps of safe walking routes to all parents living within one mile of schools in the district. This project was awarded  the 2010 Outstanding Student Project Award from the Western New York Section of the American Planning Association (WNY APA).

Room at the Table: Food System Assessment of Erie County (2011)

The purpose of this planning studio was to develop a county-wide food systems assessment of Erie County, New York on behalf of the Department of Erie County Department of Environment and Planning Students to inform the county’s farmland preservation planning process. Working in partnership with public and civic agencies, students developed a report that outlined the challenges and opportunities within Erie County’ food system. The report offers twenty-eight recommendations for strengthening the food system. Recommendations include the creation of a Food Policy Council, establishment of a regional food hub in Erie County, and creation of a county website on agricultural resources. Information generated through the studio was incorporated into the county’s official farmland preservation plan.

Invest in Fresh: A Plan for Promoting Healthy Food Retail in Jamestown, New York (2013)

The purpose of this planning studio  was to develop a planning report to improve access to healthy, affordable food in the small city of Jamestown in the rural Chautauqua County in Western New York. Prepared on behalf of the Chautauqua County Health Network, the report aimed to improve the health and wellness of residents as well as respond to the city’s economic challenges. The report highlights three objectives: 1. To assess the food retail environment in the City of Jamestown; 2. To analyze the potential of the city to support additional healthy food retail; and, 3. To outline strategies that create or improve healthy food access and economic development in Jamestown. The studio team found that particular sections of Jamestown had a limited number of food retail locations, few offered healthful food options, and that it was difficult for residents to travel to food retail locations. Recommendation included the creation of a healthy corner stores initiative to improve food access, and the launch of a food policy council to shape and steer policy changes through the existing governance structure. The Chautauqua County Health Network and its partners used the information generated by the report to design and implement a Healthy Corner Store effort in Jamestown.

Kerala Acting Collectively for Equity (ACE): Public Health Equity Through Improved Water, Sanitation and Waste Management in Maradu, Kerala (India) (Spring 2016)

The purpose of this interdisciplinary studio was to assist the municipality of Maradu in the state of Kerala in Southern India by preparing a report to inform the local government’s city-wide sanitation planning process. A group of thirteen students from the fields of architecture, environmental engineering, public Health and urban planning worked under the guidance of Drs. Samina Raja and Korydon Smith to gather, analyze, and synthesize relevant information. Students traveled to southern India for three weeks to collect primary data on current drinking water sources, waste and wastewater management, and public health, and produced a report to assist the municipal government. The report, which includes a list of twenty-eight recommendations, was shared with the municipal government and key partners. Key findings included the need for improved and enlarged water and waste infrastructure for serving a growing population.The studio was conducted in partnership with Center for Science and Environment and supported in part by the UB Community of Global Health Equity.

Chautauqua County Food System Assessment | 2017

In the spring 2017 semester, students from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning worked with the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development and the county’s Growing Food Connections (GFC) Steering Committee to conduct a county-wide food system assessment. The project charge was to understand the capacity of the food system as a lever for economic development in a county with deep agricultural and manufacturing economic roots. The final report made a series of recommendations focused on policy change, specifically related to the formation of an oversight entity (such as a food policy council), human resources dedicated to food systems development, and support for infrastructure such as transportation systems, education opportunities, and additional processing facilities. The recommendations are in review by the GFC committee as of summer 2017.

Chautauqua County Food System Assessment | 2017

In the spring 2017 semester, students from the Department of Urban and Regional Planning worked with the Chautauqua County Department of Planning and Economic Development and the county’s Growing Food Connections (GFC) Steering Committee to conduct a county-wide food system assessment. The project charge was to understand the capacity of the food system as a lever for economic development in a county with deep agricultural and manufacturing economic roots. The final report made a series of recommendations focused on policy change, specifically related to the formation of an oversight entity (such as a food policy council), human resources dedicated to food systems development, and support for infrastructure such as transportation systems, education opportunities, and additional processing facilities. The recommendations are in review by the GFC committee as of summer 2017.

Planning Studio | Acting Collectively for Equity (ACE), Maradu, India (2016)

Barker, Micaela, Samantha Bulkilvish, John Costello, Ryan Dussault, Connor Hannan, Shawn Mathew, Kenzie McNamara, Breanna McCoy, Sucharita Paul, Kathryn Rozwod, Daniel Stegall, Vasikan Vijayashanthar, and Yilmaz York. 2016. [Title TBD]. School of Architecture and Planning (and Community of Global Health Equity), University at Buffalo, The State University of New York.

 

The Town of Maradu, Kerala, India is experiencing rapid growth and maintaining clean water and sanitation is an ongoing challenge.  Pollution puts a strain on already insufficient sanitation infrastructure.   An interdisciplinary group of thirteen graduate students (Urban & Regional Planning, Public Health, Environmental Engineering, and Architecture) prepared this report with the goal of promoting public health equity through improved water and sanitation systems. Students traveled to southern India for three weeks to collect data on current drinking water sources, waste and wastewater management, and public health. Students worked in partnership with the town government, Suchwita Mission, the Center for Science and Environment, and the College of Engineering in Trivandrum. The purpose of this trip was to assist the Municipality of Maradu come up with recommendation to help them implement their City Sanitation Plan. The data collection efforts were preceded by months of analyses and as a result a list of twenty-eight recommendations were produced and shared with the Municipality. Key findings included the need for improved and enlarged water and waste infrastructure for handling a growing population.

Read the report here.