On April 18, 2015, Evergreen faculty member Jennifer Gerend Ph.D AICP hosted a gathering of The Greeners Behind Our Cities: alumni, friends, and several of her most promising urban planning students. Over thirty attended the event at the Tap House Grill, located within walking distance of the American Planning Association’s national conference at the Washington State Convention Center.
About an hour into the event, the clink of a glass drew Greener’s attention away from small group conversation, steak skewers, crab cakes, 14 Hands wine and other delectable appetizers and drinks to Jennifer’s opening remarks. She shared a multitude of exciting field trips, class readings and guest speakers her planning programs have experienced over the years, since joining Evergreen’s faculty in 2008, and introduced several of her recent and current students:
– Shira Moch ’14 studied with Jennifer and Ralph Murphy before being accepted into the first year of Evergreen’s Summer Undergraduate Research Fellowship program, doing research for the same faculty in 2013. Shira, who is currently a session aid to Washington State Senator and Evergreen Adjunct Faculty Karen Fraser, announced that she will begin graduate school at UCLA in urban planning this coming fall.
– Carlos Gemora ’15 also studied with Jennifer and Ralph, during which time he also started a planning internship with the City of Tumwater. When his internship ended, Carlos was offered a full time position in planning with the city, which he continues to hold today. Carlos will begin graduate school at Cornell University in urban planning this fall.
– Will Hamlin also studied with Jennifer, and while still a current undergraduate student, he has begun a full-time position with Pacific County as one of their two staff planners.
Following those special introductions, Jennifer asked everyone in attendance to introduce themselves and what brought them to the event , which encouraged some of the evening’s many highlights. Introductions started with Gil Kelley ’79, Director of Citywide Planning for the City of San Francisco. Gil noted the strange circumstance that the latest Evergreen Magazine, stacked on the table behind him, bared him on its cover. A former classmate of Kelley’s, Michael Bergstrom ’75, was also in attendance. They reminisced on the paths they’ve taken since doing the same life-changing planning internship as Evergreen students in the 1970s.
There were also several graduates of Evergreen’s Masters in Public Administration (MPA) program in attendance: Rita Robison ’75 MPA ’91 and Lynn Scroggins MPA ’97. Rita has since retired, and was joined by fellow retiree and long-time Olympia City Council member Holly Gadbaw, while Lynn works for the Nisqually Indian Tribe.
There were several Greeners new to the planning and development world, including Lynn Schneider ’88 and husband/wife David Wagner ’90 and Ann Marie Crane ’00. Lynn has just started a job with King County, while David and Ann are new to the Seattle real estate industry. As developers, David and Ann were well received by the lively group of planners.
There were countless other stories from the group, and their conversations will undoubtedly continue, both professionally and personally. It was a memorable evening of engaging conversation, new friends, and great connections among students and alumni, colleagues, and old classmates. Some alumni will go on to serve as mentors, internship sponsors and employers of the students and recent graduates in the room. Some will rekindle friendships, and others will use new connections in their professional lives.
All in all, it was a celebratory evening for The Greeners Behind Our Cities and the passionate, systems and interdisciplinary thinking they bring to their work. A very special thank you to Jennifer Gerend, not only for her collaboration in planning the event but for carrying on Evergreen’s evident legacy of educating future planners.