Grand Valley Magazine Winter 2015 - (Page 27)

SU STA I N AB I L IT Y Sustainability scholar Student helps ArtPrize build, track best practices by Leah Twilley It's only fitting that Aziza Ahmadi's favorite ArtPrize submission was located in her favorite part of Grand Rapids: the popular "Self-Portrait as Bunnies (The Bathers)" by Alex Podesta in the Grand River. Ahmadi, who is majoring in urban planning with an emphasis on sustainable cities and environmental studies, got to know the city well during her internship as a sustainability scholar for ArtPrize 2014. She was responsible for tracking and analyzing sustainability efforts and creating ArtPrize's first sustainability impact report. ArtPrize is an annual international art competition that lasts for 19 days and attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors to Grand Rapids. "I want to help in the pursuit of reclaiming our cities for a greener and smarter future," Ahmadi said. "The projections are astonishing, as 87 percent of the U.S. population is predicted to live in large cities by 2030. I would like to work for a city or community program, and ArtPrize has helped me gain meaningful insight on ways to do that." Amelea Pegman, director of community relations for ArtPrize, said it was important to hire a student to help with advancing its sustainability initiatives. "This year we made a concentrated effort to implement sustainable practices in both a social and environmental perspective," Pegman said. "It's a brand-new space and conversation for us at ArtPrize." Pegman said she wanted to hire an intern from Grand Valley after learning about graduate student „ Aziza Ahmadi, ArtPrize intern and Urban Planning major photo by Amanda Pitts Chelsea Brehm's involvement in helping zero-waste efforts during the Gazelle Girl Half Marathon and 5K in 2013. Brehm coordinated efforts that resulted in 900 pounds of materials that were diverted from the landfill. During her internship Ahmadi also worked with a team to implement new sustainability programs such as an alternative transportation initiative with The Rapid in which 10,000 wristbands that served as free bus passes were distributed to people who live outside of Grand Rapids. "We wanted to make ArtPrize accessible for people who live just outside of the city and encourage them to be sustainable by using alternative transportation," Ahmadi said. Another initiative was a water share program to decrease the use of plastic water bottles. Eighteen of the major venues advertised free water for ArtPrize guests by displaying a logo on the venue wall or door. ArtPrize also teamed with Organicycle, a curbside composting service in Grand Rapids and created a walking tour with signage throughout the city to promote health and wellness. "A big part of our conversation was thinking of ways to empower our partners, including venues, to take on and apply sustainability practices that are really important," said Pegman. Another important duty of Ahmadi's was researching sustainable opportunities for ArtPrize in the future, like a sustainable venue certification program for all 174 venues. "A huge aspect to ArtPrize is its partnerships, so as ArtPrize moves forward, I hope venues become excited about how to be more sustainable and will want to improve from year to year," she said. 27 Grand Valley Magazine

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Grand Valley Magazine Winter 2015

Campus News
Donor Impact
RMSC celebrates silver anniversary
Get a job
Another man's treasure
Q&A George Grant Jr.
Off the Path
Focal Point
Alumni News

Grand Valley Magazine Winter 2015