26 Oct 2015
Intern’s economic analysis proves value of business clusters for SD

Our talented interns have specialist interest areas that range from water, energy, food security, social housing and energy to communications and urban design. Attracting interns from across the world, we are proud to contribute to the professional workforce of tomorrow’s sustainable cities.

Leading Economic Analysis

Kristian Vaughn is a great example of the calibre of people who join our programme. Recent inaugural ‘Senator Herb Kohl-Global Compact Cities Programme Intern’ in the city of Milwaukee, Kristian led the research effort that formed the basis of the newly released report, Water Technology District Investment Analysis Report.

The analysis looked beyond standard outcomes such as jobs and capital investment and captured the stream of economic dividends flowing from Wisconsin’s water technology cluster development strategy into Milwaukee’s Walker’s Point neighbourhood. It found that the large, economically dormant section of the city has been reawakened with new commercial development, business creation and residential options. Originally Milwaukee’s first lager brewery site, Walker’s Point is now a preferred destination for development investment from large corporations, small businesses, commercial banks and real estate developers and has delivered significant social, environmental and economic outcomes for the local community.

The research found that the water cluster project attracted a phenomenal $211.6 million worth of development. Property values increased by 16.6 per cent, or $56.6 million. The City of Milwaukee financed two tax incremental financing districts and infrastructure projects valued at $21.2 million.

Of particular interest, property owners invested $4.1 million in green infrastructure projects, including green roofs and green streets, through Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s public/private green infrastructure cost-sharing program.

The Reed Street Water technology business park, situated on a 17-acre site with 1,000 feet of waterfront, has became a showcase for green infrastructure and sustainable site design.

Kristian, a (then) undergraduate from the School of Architecture and Planning, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, was responsible for data collection, analysis and visualisation, working with numerous public and private stakeholders to obtain the data. This engagement continued until the data was analysed and synthesised into the final report.

We are delighted with Kristian’s reflection on his internship experience:

“Of any of my life experiences to date, my work with the Cities Programme has proven to be one of the most rewarding and memorable.  It was – and still is – an incredible privilege to work alongside an outstanding team of professionals who are so committed to the equitable and sustainable growth and development of all world communities.

The passion and drive of my colleagues and supervisors inspired me to not only expand my professional goals and aspirations, but to also strive to live my life as a better human being and participant in the global community.”

A stellar crew focused on the USA

Milwaukee has been a rich site for intern talent. It inspired Australian Julia Laidlaw to spend a year learning about the framework required to make urban aquaponics social ventures robust. This became her Honors thesis focused on Sweet Water Organics in Milwaukee and CERES in Melbourne. Julia is currently working in support of food security in the Pacific island of Vanuatu.

Jesse Blom holds the current Milwaukee internship position and is leading the development of the latest phase of Milwaukee’s innovation – integrating civil society into the water focus for the city, to build a truly ‘Water-Centric City’.  Jesse is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Freshwater Sciences at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee and has eight years of work experience in the fields of cultural and environmental education, urban agriculture and community development. He is also the Milwaukee Director of the Sweet Water Foundation and the President of the Milwaukee Food Council.

Urbanists working from Australia

The Cities Programme has attracted particularly high calibre urban professionals from a range of countries who have worked from the Melbourne office of the International Secretariat.

Urban Designer and Architect from Mexico, Patricia Galán joined the Cities Programme in 2014 to undertake a research internship related to participatory design in city urban public space projects. The results of her project, which studied the approaches of urban projects in eight countries, will be released next month.

Also from Mexico, biologist Cristina Hernandez Santin is conducting research with RMIT academics on Biodiversity Sensitive Urban Design (BSUD). Focused on the outer-lying suburbs of Melbourne, this project is working to alleviate human impact caused by urban development and sprawl. Cristina’s research analyses different urban forms (compact, polycentric and eco-resilient cities) to find BSUD performance variation. She is also currently studying a Masters of Environment at the University of Melbourne.

Architect and Urban planner, Angela Lopez played an integral role in the development of reports for the Global Compact City Scan pilot studies conducted earlier this year.

Angela holds a Master of Urbanism and a Technology in Sustainable Development Specialisation from TU Delft in The Netherlands. Her two main research areas, sustainable water management and poverty, are motivated by the greatest needs of her hometown, Mexico City. Angela’s Honours Thesis was titled ‘From Threat to Opportunity: Spatial strategies integrating urban and water dynamics towards a redevelopment model for informal settlements in Mexico’s City’s periphery’.

Engineer and Sustainability professional, Sandra Moye was responsible for the development of the City Programme’s core diagnostic tool, the Global Compact CityScan. Sandra originally joined the Cities Programme as a Research Intern in January 2013. She undertook research in energy efficiency measures for low income housing with the Chilean NGO TECHO with Professor Ralph Horne. Sandra secured COALAR funding to collaborate with TECHO and present findings internationally. See workshops at the World Urban Forum and Sustainable Urban Housing in Chile.

Sandra is now undertaking a PhD focused on climate resilience through sustainable housing in cities of the Global South.

Cities Programme Communication

Interns have been critical to the Cities Programme communications since the inception of the internship programme, with many sharing web responsibilities as well as other projects. Cassandra Cohen is the current communications intern, a role she is undertaking as part of her Bachelor of Communication (Professional Communication) at RMIT University in Melbourne.

During that time she has worked on co-ordination of the e-newsletter (including development of its new look), website with articles, redevelopment of new website, as well as promoting the Cities Programme flagship publication, ‘Cities for the Future.’

New Internship Opportunities

New Cities Programme Chair, Michael Nolan also has a number of new projects in the pipeline and there are opportunities for internships from November 2015 to March 2016. These positions would suit candidates with excellent written communication skills and an interest in building skills and knowledge in the development and management of projects that underpin large-scale international urban collaborations.

These positions would suit a range of disciplines but it would be best to be based in Australia.

If you are interested please send your CV and letter of interest to Michael Nolan – michael.nolan@citiesprogramme.org

We also currently have a communications internship on offer. To apply please contact Felicity Cahill – felicity.cahill@citiesprogramme.org

Author: Cassandra Cohen, with contribution from Elizabeth Ryan

Connected Cities