Empowering Planners to Lead: An EPIC Approach

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You'll learn about:

  • A new university partnership framework that can expand community conversations to promote better local decision making with less political risk

  • How planners can leverage students and faculty to advance equity, sustainability, and just development

  • How to expedite the adoption of new policy and practice at the local level through city and university collaboration

Increasingly, planners must address local quality-of-life issues such as affordable housing, social service provision, community engagement, equitable economic development, and clean air and water with limited staff and financial resources.

The Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities (EPIC) model offers efficiency and cost-effectiveness to meet these needs. The scale of engagement—one city partnered with one university for an academic year—expedites innovation into local government; increases a city’s capacity to move projects forward; accelerates adoption of new policy and practice; re-charges and empowers city staff; helps address problems from diverse perspectives; and trains the next generation of planners and allied professionals in effective, applied, multi-disciplinary problem solving approaches. More than 25 colleges and universities across the country have now adopted this framework, demonstrating the model’s flexibility and adaptability to all types of communities and educational institutions.

Discover how the University of Oregon and the University of Minnesota have used the EPIC approach to collaborate with cities. Learn about the model, example projects, and the collaborative relationships that have fostered successful planning outcomes. And discuss issues of equity and community engagement, working across city departments, and engaging elected officials.

About the Speakers

Megan Banks
Megan Banks, MCRP, is the Sustainable City Year Program Manager at the University of Oregon’s Sustainable Cities Initiative. She spent more than 20 years at the Lane Council of Governments and City of Eugene Planning Division in Eugene, Oregon, managing diverse planning projects. She is also an effective facilitator. Prior to moving to Oregon, Megan worked as a landscape architect in San Diego, California. Megan’s private and public sector knowledge have helped her understand the complex layers of public policy and government, and she believes success is based on merging technical and human elements. Megan earned a Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, and a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon.

Michael Greco
Mike Greco, AICP, MURP, is director of the Resilient Communities Project at the University of Minnesota’s Center for Urban and Regional Affairs (CURA). He has master's degrees in urban and regional planning from the Hubert H. Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota, and in communication studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He serves on the Dakota County (Minnesota) Planning Commission, as well as local, regional, and state advisory committees on urban planning, sustainability, and resiliency issues.

Robert Richardson
Bob Richardson, AICP, MCRP is the Planning Manager for the City of Albany, Oregon. For nearly 15 years, he has been involved in, or managed, a variety of current and long range planning projects for local jurisdictions. Bob is a returned Peace Corps volunteer (Lesotho, Southern Africa) and this work and other international experiences enrich his perspective on community development and planning. He holds a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Oregon, and a BA in Government and Environmental Studies from St. Lawrence University.