Livable City Year

October 2, 2017

University of Washington and City of Tacoma’s Livable City Year partnership kicks off

Aerial view of Tacoma and Mount RainierUniversity of Washington students and faculty are working with Tacoma community members and City of Tacoma staff this academic year on projects to improve livability and sustainability across Tacoma.

The projects are part of the Livable City Year program, which creates year-long partnerships between the UW and local governments and communities. The program links the resources and human capacity of UW students and faculty — drawing across multiple UW schools, colleges and campuses — to address real-world topics identified by the City of Tacoma.

This year UW and the City of Tacoma are working together on projects that advance goals in the City’s One Tacoma: Comprehensive Plan and Tacoma 2025 strategic visioning framework.

“We are pleased to kick off our partnership with the University of Washington,” said Tacoma Mayor Marilyn Strickland. “Like the University of Washington, we are proud to honor our public promise of making our progressive, international waterfront city an even better place to live, work, innovate, start a business, or simply call home.”

The Livable City Year program is celebrating the start of this year’s partnership with a kick-off event on Oct. 5 at 4 p.m. in UW Tacoma’s newly-renovated Paper and Stationery Building (1735 Jefferson Ave.). Speakers will include Tacoma City Manager Elizabeth Pauli, UW Director of Regional and Community Relations Sally Clark and Livable City Year leaders, while students, faculty and City project leads will also be on hand to discuss the year’s projects.

UW’s Livable City Year program launched in the 2016-2017 academic year, with 17 projects completed with the City of Auburn, the inaugural partner. The program is expanding during its second year, with students conducting about 30 projects during a year-long partnership with the City of Tacoma.

“It’s exciting to begin this year’s partnership with Tacoma and see the students start to work on these projects,” said Livable City Year faculty co-director Jennifer Otten. “Livable City Year gives students a chance to work on real-world issues that provide benefit to the community and advances the public mission of the university.”

The partnership with the City of Tacoma provides opportunities to build on existing relationships between UW Tacoma and the city, as well as create new connections across all UW campuses.

“Faculty across the university are looking forward to the great projects put forward by the City of Tacoma,” said Livable City Year faculty co-director Anne Taufen Wessells of UW Tacoma’s Urban Studies. “It’s terrific, coming from a campus that has always valued this kind of work, to have Livable City Year expand the scale and impact of a range of courses, UW-wide. Working together on a shared partnership can make everyone’s investment more worthwhile – City staff, faculty leads, and students at all stages of their education.”

This fall, UW students are working on a variety of Livable City Year projects including place-making planning around potential transit stations; assessing neighborhood emergency preparedness; creating a video library and social media plan for the City’s Planning and Development Services Department; creating a revitalization planning toolkit; collecting baseline data to inform the Tacoma 2025 strategic plan; working on neighborhood health indicators; creating an arts strategy for the Tacoma Mall neighborhood; and youth community mapping.

“We look forward to working with the University of Washington on realistic, specific and measurable goals to address issues such as education, employment, equity and accountability,” Tacoma City Manager Elizabeth Pauli said.

The students and faculty working on this year’s projects come from a wide variety of disciplines: on the Seattle campus, the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, the School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, the Department of Urban Design and Planning, the Department of Architecture, the Department of Landscape Architecture, and the School of Public Health and At UW Tacoma, the Urban Studies Program, Milgard School of Business and the School of Interdisciplinary Arts and Sciences.

Livable City Year is led by UW faculty directors Branden Born with the Department of Urban Design and Planning, Jennifer Otten with the School of Public Health, and Anne Taufen Wessells with UW Tacoma Urban Studies.


For more information, contact Born at or 206-543-4975; Otten at; and Maria Lee, communications specialist with the City of Tacoma at or (253) 591-2054.