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Augustana to partner with KeyStone Neighborhood

May  13, 2014

Residents of the KeyStone neighborhood of Rock Island are invited to a brainstorming session with Augustana students and faculty on Wednesday, May 14, from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at St. John's Lutheran Church (4501 7th Ave.). Joshua Schipp, president of the KeyStone Neighborhood Association and Augustana faculty planned the event as a way to begin a new partnership initiative. On-site childcare will be provided.

The KeyStone neighborhood is located between the two downtowns of Rock Island and Moline. The KeyStone Neighborhood Association, founded in 1994, has long maintained a keen interest in "town and gown" relations with Augustana College. The association identified and implemented objectives such as unrelated group family use, rental inspection ordinance and off-campus living workshops.

The brainstorming session and projects with the community during the next year will be funded by an Academic Affairs Connection Grant that funds courses that "will more intentionally connect the college and the local Quad-Cities community by making some aspect of our location central to the course's content and learning objectives," said Jeffrey Ratliff-Crain, associate dean of curriculum and enrichment at Augustana College.

During the brainstorming session with residents of the KeyStone neighborhood, Augustana faculty from several different disciplines will generate and prioritize a list of challenges and constraints to create a more vibrant neighborhood economy, more livable community and more resilient environment. Possible issues to be addressed range from water quality to historic preservation to area beautification.

There are a number of directions the Augustana courses may go in working with the community, and the brainstorming session will be vital for identifying areas of mutual interest. Some initial ideas include:

  • Students in a sculpture class led by Megan Quinn, a professor in the art department, may create "letterboxes," a new form of participatory art that explains natural or historical aspects of the neighborhood.
  • An anthropology class focused on ethnography taught by Dr. Carrie Hough, professor of anthropology at Augustana, may have students who will do spatial mapping, observations and interviews.
  • In addition to the Prayer, Community and Transformation class led by Dr. Jason Mahn, an associate professor in religion who has a history of working in this community, a religion course focused on environmental ethics taught by Dr. Laura Hartman, assistant professor in religion, may help churches "green" their congregations and develop recommendations for a congregation wishing to become more environmentally friendly in their physical operations.
  • Faculty and students in biology and environmental studies can continue work related to the watershed project, urban forestry initiatives or other areas of interest and may include development of rain gardens or other outcomes.

The KeyStone Neighborhood Association and Augsutana College faculty and students are hopeful that this initial brainstorming session will provide input to shape the priorities for collaborative projects during the next year. 

Sam Schlouch
Senior Communication Director
(309) 794-7833