ASU group's work with Navajo Nation recognized for innovative community planning


November 16, 2018

The Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association recently held their annual conference, during which members from Arizona State University’s School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning were recognized for their project with the Navajo Nation’s Dilkon Chapter.

David Pijawka, professor of planning and senior sustainability scientist with the Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability, has a long history of working with indigenous communities to ensure Native culture, customs and traditions are considered in community planning. Pijawka and Jonathan Davis, a geography PhD student, recently worked alongside the Dilkon Chapter to successfully complete a community land-use plan. It is for this outstanding work that Pijawka, Davis and the Dilkon chapter were recognized on Nov. 8 for special recognition for a public outreach plan. Jonathan Davis (left) and David Pijawka (second from right) are joined by members of the Dilkon Chapter and the Navajo Nation Office of Government Development as they accept their award from the Arizona Chapter of the American Planning Association. Download Full Image

The Dilkon Chapter of the Navajo Nation, located in the northeastern region of Arizona, is an active and engaged community that desired to compete for funding for further economic, housing and public service development within their community. In order to better compete for funding for these initiatives, the Dilkon Chapter needed to update their community land-use plan, as dictated by the Navajo Nation. Teaming up with Pijawka and Davis, the chapter began to utilize a new approach help create their plan

In February 2017, a community-based land use plan was created through the use of "geodesign."

Geodesign is primarily guided by the principle that land-use planning is complex, therefore to effectively design a resilient and sustainable community or place, it requires a collaborative approach between GIS (geographic information systems) experts, planning professionals, geographic scientists, community members and other stakeholders such as environmental, development and housing experts.

“Geodesign leading to a land-use plan incorporates community participation and visioning of a different and viable future based on community-shared goals and needs that leads to consensus on the type of land uses, their location and connections,” Pijawka explained. “We found that the idea of a community working together to reach a consensus of a future connected well with indigenous approaches to planning communities. The exchange of ideas and knowledge, through the use of computer GIS systems for communicating among community groups was original and innovative.”

The Dilkon Chapter’s project is the first known application of geodesign as a planning framework in an American Indian community.

In order to complete this effort, the Dilkon Chapter, Pijawka and Davis, along with members from the Office of Navajo Government Development, completed a two-day long workshop where eight different data development groups were created based on their area of interest and expertise, including economic development, public services, conservation (both cultural and environmental), transportation, infrastructure, grazing and housing. During the workshop community members were able to consult with experts and design land-use designations using the land suitability maps, their local knowledge and their cultural and traditional sensibilities.

As soon as these designs were contributed, the ideas were immediately shared with the other data development groups through the geodesign software. At the end of the first day, eight unique land-use plans had been developed from over 100 potential land-use designations contributed by Dilkon community members. The group then worked to prioritize and combine the plans until they were ultimately able to complete one final land-use plan that incorporated community feedback and that was built through consensus and compromise.

The final land-use plan incorporated a cultural conservation map with an explanation from Dilkon Chapter elders on why certain areas in the community are culturally and traditionally important, identification of recreation areas within the town that could serve as a community area to interact with nature and designation of a potential solar field to reduce energy costs for the community. A transportation plan was also created, designating five miles of road for paving, five miles of road for sidewalk and three additional crosswalks.

One of the most important aspects of the geodesign workshop is that planners from Arizona State University and the Office of Navajo Government development were able to provide their expertise to the community when called upon, but final decisions on land designations were up to the community members. The effort also incorporated planners from the Navajo Nation, promoted public participation within the Dilkon Chapter and used Navajo GIS analysts as technical assistants. With the successful results from this exercise, it is now believed that the geodesign planning framework can serve as a future planning model for American Indian communities by leveraging Western planning with a strong influence of community values and traditions.

“(Dr. Pijawka and Jonathan Davis) provided technical and professional support to our community to empower us to create a land-use plan that will guide our community into the future,” said Lorenzo Lee Sr., president of the Dilkon Chapter. “The use of geodesign to create a land-use plan allowed our community members to engage with each other and actively participate in the planning process which allowed us to propose alternate futures for Dilkon.”

The plan from the Dilkon Chapter has now been submitted to the Navajo Nation Office of Government Development for approval and marks an important milestone in a budding relationship.

“This is an important partnership that places ASU in the center of important community work with American Indian communities,” Pijawka said. “It demonstrates a successful and innovative approach to community development through the use of information technology, spatial analysis and community engagement.”

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Committed to public service: ASU Watts College alumni elected to public office


November 16, 2018

Graduates of Arizona State University's Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions fared well in the November general election. One was elected to the U.S. Senate, two to statewide offices in Arizona and others to legislative and local offices. 

Democratic Congresswoman Kyrsten Sinema won the race to replace U.S. Senator Jeff Flake, who chose not to run for re-election. Senator-elect Sinema is an alumna and instructor at the ASU School of Social Work, one of four schools and two dozen research centers that make up the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions in downtown Phoenix. Sinema would fly back to Phoenix from Washington, D.C., to teach day-long graduate courses on Saturdays and Sundays during the fall and spring semesters.

“We're just really pleased and honored that she's a graduate of our school and she's had the opportunity to actually work with our students as an instructor while serving as a member of Congress,” said James Herbert Williams, director of the ASU School of Social Work. “She’s a wonderful role model of what can be accomplished when you put your mind to it and work hard.” Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema gave the keynote address at the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions Convocation at Comerica Theater in December 2016 Senator-elect Kyrsten Sinema delivering the keynote address at the December 2016 Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions Convocation at Comerica Theater. Sinema earned four graduate degrees from Arizona State University: a Master of Social Work, a Juris Doctor (law), a PhD in Justice Studies and an MBA. Download Full Image

Statewide office

Two other graduates of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions lead statewide races for public office.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Kimberly Yee, who earned a Master of Public Administration from the ASU School of Public Affairs, was elected to be the state’s next treasurer. The position as Arizona’s chief banker and financial officer is currently held by another graduate of the School of Public Affairs, Eileen Klein, who was appointed earlier this year by Gov. Doug Ducey. Klein, who also earned an MPA, is the former president of the Arizona Board of Regents and a former chief of staff to Gov. Jan Brewer.

Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who earned her graduate degree from the ASU School of Social Work, emerged as the leading candidate in the race for Secretary of State. Hobbs is currently the state senate minority leader. Results in that contest have not yet been finalized.

“This is an unprecedented year for people stepping up to be part of the solution,” said Jonathan Koppell, dean of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions. “Serving in elected office is one of the most important things we can do as citizens, and I’m proud to see so many of our graduates elected to office.”

Arizona Treasurer Eileen Klein and State Treasurer-elect Kimberly Ye
Arizona Treasurer Eileen Klein and Treasurer-elect Kimberly Yee. Both are graduates of the ASU School of Public Affairs. Photo courtesy of Office of State Treasurer

School of Public Affairs alumna Jennifer Jermaine won a District 18 seat in the Arizona House of Representatives, serving Ahwatukee and Chandler. The Democrat's election came two years after co-creating nonprofits Stronger Together Arizona and We the People Summit. Both efforts are aimed at getting people to collaborate in the hopes of more effectively influencing public policy.

"When I started the nonprofit, I never intended to run for office," Jermaine said.

As an advocate for public education, she says it was the passage of private school vouchers that compelled her to seek a legislative seat.

"The number one issue in District 18 is public education," Jermaine said. "I would really like to see us find a permanent funding stream for public education as our economy goes in cycles, and where we are at in the cycle is anyone's guess."

Jennifer Jermaine participates in a march at the state capitol earlier in this year.
Jennifer Jermaine participates in a march at the state capitol in January 2018. Jermaine is an alumna of the ASU School of Public Affairs. Photo courtesy of Jennifer Jermaine

Jermaine says her education from the School of Public Affairs allowed her to hit the ground running. She credits retired professor Jerry Miller for giving her the knowledge to understand the state budgeting process. Creating a state budget is one of the most important functions of the state Legislature.

“We are enormously proud of the fact that people who have received our degrees are being elected, which means that voters are showing confidence in them to formulate public policies and implement them effectively," said Don Siegel, director of the ASU School of Public Affairs.

Local government

Phoenix Elementary School District voters elected Carmen Trujillo to the east Phoenix school board. The mother of three grew up in the school district. She earned her bachelor’s degree in criminology and criminal justice. As president of the ASU Chapter of the National Criminal Justice Honor Society, she helped the student group win an ASU Pitchfork Award for Outstanding Undergraduate Student Organization in 2014.

Carmen Trujillo, with her three children, was elected to the Phoenix Elementary School Board.
Carmen Trujillo, with her three children, was elected to the Phoenix Elementary School Board. Trujillo is an alumna of the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Photo courtesy of Carmen Trujillo

“Carmen is an outstanding leader and will serve her community well,” said Cassia Spohn, director of the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

Earlier this fall, another graduate of the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions was appointed by the Phoenix City Council to represent District 5 on an interim basis. The council selected Vania Guevara to fulfill the term of Daniel Valenzuela, who resigned from the council to run for mayor, until a special election is held March 12. A first-generation graduate, Guevara earned her Masters of Public Administration from the ASU School of Public Affairs. She also has a degree in political science from ASU and a law degree from Summit Law School.

“For anyone who is jaded by divisive politics, all you have to do is look at the quality of people running for office,” Koppell said. “No matter where you fall on the political spectrum, there is reason to believe in the future.”

Guevara serves with another graduate of the School of Public Affairs. District 2 Councilman and Vice Mayor Jim Waring earned both his MPA and PhD from the School of Public Affairs. Waring also served as an Arizona state senator.

Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams and District 5 Councilwoman Vania Guevara.
Phoenix Mayor Thelda Williams and District 5 Councilwoman Vania Guevara. Guevara is an alumna of the ASU School of Public Affairs. Photo courtesy city of Phoenix

Alumni re-elected

Several alumni won re-election to the state Legislature. State Senator Rebecca Rios (D-Phoenix) earned both her bachelor’s and master’s degree from the ASU School of Social Work. She faced no general election challenge as the incumbent state senator serving south Phoenix (District 27). Rios is one of the most experienced lawmakers in the Legislature with more than a decade of experience in both the House and Senate.

State Senator Martín Quezada (D-Phoenix), a graduate of the ASU School of Criminology and Criminal Justice, easily won his District 28 election. Like Rios, he faced no competition on the general election ballot. Quezada, who also earned his law degree from ASU, represents southwest Phoenix.

Otoniel “Tony” Navarrete (D-Phoenix), a graduate of the ASU School of Public Affairs, faced no competition as he won the state senate race for District 30 in west Phoenix. Navarrete, who earned his undergraduate degree in Urban and Metropolitan Studies, was previously elected to the House of Representatives in 2016.

Tony Rivero (R-Peoria), was elected to the House of Representatives from District 21. Rivero earned his Master of Public Administration from the ASU School of Public Affairs and has served the city of Peoria as a civil servant in a number of capacities.

Rebecca Rios, Martín Quezada, Tony Navarette and Tony Rivero
Rebecca Rios, Martín Quezada, Tony Navarette and Tony Rivero were re-elected to the Arizona Legislature. Rios is an alumna of the School of Social Work. Quezada is an alumnus of the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice. Navarette and Rivero are alumni of the School of Public Affairs.

Out-of-state success story

One of the most distinguished graduates from the School of Community Resources and Development was re-elected to office in Minnesota. Voters in Maplewood, a town of 38,000 people, returned Nora Slawik to the mayor’s office. Slawik earned a degree in recreation administration with an emphasis on nonprofit organizations from ASU in 1984. Earlier this year, she was selected as the Certified Nonprofit Professional of the Year by the national Nonprofit Leadership Alliance.

“Nora truly defines what it means to be a public servant,” said Robert Ashcraft, executive director of the ASU Lodestar Center and the Saguaro Professor of Civic Enterprise in ASU’s School of Community Resources and Development. “She is the greatest example I know of someone who blended her education in nonprofit leadership and management with a laser focus on impactful results to make positive outcomes happen.”

Nora Slawik
Nora Slawik receives the Certified Nonprofit Professional of the Year award from the national Nonprofit Leadership Alliance in January 2018. Voters in Maplewood, Minnesota re-elected Slawik as mayor in November 2018. She is an alumna of the School of Community Resources and Development.
Paul Atkinson

assistant director, College of Public Service and Community Solutions

602-496-0001