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Assisting an urban sustainability transition: Exploring the partnership between the Sustainable City Year Program at the University of Oregon and the City of Salem, Oregon

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Each year, the Sustainable City Year Program (SCYP) partners with local governments in Oregon to provide support to sustainability projects. In attempting to understand the potential for change toward sustainability within the SCYP-Salem Partnership, this paper finds the case is best explained with reference to the philosophy of American pragmatism which focuses on the central role of social experience in identifying and framing problems and taking action on solutions linked to durable visions. From the pragmatic perspective, the Partnership shows evidence of having stimulated new directions in actual practice which may prove to produce more sustainable outcomes. Leveraging the potential of the SCYP centers on using the partnership: a) to unpack complex problems and abstract social aspirations into real, implementable projects and proposals; and b) to demonstrate and stimulate the formation of community dialogue about the actually existing opportunities for incremental improvement and the visions which flow from them.
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