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Dec. 7, 2018

MSU partnership awarded for raising environmental awareness

An initiative aimed at raising environmental awareness and engagement in Monroe, Michigan, born out of a collaboration with Michigan State University’s College of Arts and Letters, is now being recognized with the Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service by MSU’s Office of University Outreach and Engagement.

Kelly Salchow MacArthur, associate professor of graphic design in the Department of Art, Art History and Design, along with two of her past students, Larissa Moyer and Malarie French, worked with the River Raisin Institute of Monroe on the project, called the Resilient Monroe Green Map Initiative.

The goals of the initiative are to introduce green mapping to the local community by focusing on fresh, local food resources, as well as to engage the community to explore the green living as well as the natural and cultural resources of the area, such as the local food, recycling and eco organizations. The initiative also seeks to involve children in order to foster the next generation of environmental stewards.

The project came about when Salchow MacArthur initially reached out to the River Raisin Institute to see how both could work together.

“My research and personal interests are connected to environmental concerns,” Salchow MacArthur said. “For me, this was a way to get my research outside the discipline of graphic design, gallery exhibitions and design publications, and really get on the ground and contribute to a community through a grassroots effort. It has been incredibly fulfilling.”

Through this collaboration, and a goal to serve the community in a diverse, outside-the-box approach, the Resilient Monroe Green Map Initiative was born.

To help create the necessities for the initiative, Salchow MacArthur worked Moyer and French to design booklets, medallions and maps.

“The fact that I was able to design for a project involved with promoting sustainable living and protecting the environment was even better because that's something I'm passionate about,” Moyer said. “I was able to combine two passions together.”

As part of the initiative, a green map of the city of Monroe was created that identifies local eco organizations, wildlife habitats, fishing spots, composting/recycling centers and fresh, local food resources. The map also includes information on recycling and composting, reusable grocery bags, habitats for pollinatorsand guidelines for safe fish eating.

“Putting our surroundings in this context is a simple, yet eye-opening way to reframe how we view our lands and environment, as well as our impact on them,” Salchow MacArthur said.

The Resilient Monroe Green Map Initiative kicked off at the 2018 Monroe County Earth Day Expo held on April 14 at Monroe County Community College, and the Green Map materials were distributed through local schools, libraries, events and other community organizations.

For their efforts, Salchow MacArthur and the River Raisin Institute will be awarded the 2019 Distinguished Partnership Award for Community-Engaged Service on Feb. 20.

Salchow MacArthur’s next project is an environmental and health initiative that will utilize green maps to make fresh, local food more accessible to the residents of Monroe County, while addressing food deserts in the area.

The Resilient Monroe Green Map can be found online here.

By: Kimberly Popiolek