January 31: A Place-Based Learning Model for Building Equitable, Inclusive, Prosperous, and Resilient Cities

A Place-Based Learning Model for Building Equitable, Inclusive, Prosperous, and Resilient Cities

Sarah Iannarone, Director of City Learning, First Stop Portland

Sarah Iannarone City Talk: Sustainable Cities


Sustainable urban development, if not the defining issue of our day, remains a dominant discourse in politics and policymaking worldwide. Despite academic challenges to the usefulness of the concept of sustainability, practical struggles to realize its ideals continue. To this end, civic leaders are visiting “model cities” and “shopping” for “quick fix” sustainable urban development policies and best practices to help them realize thriving, livable cities in the face of economic and environmental crises. There is a voluminous body of literature on policy diffusion and transfer (in political science), and an emergent discourse on policy mobility (in critical human geography), both of which touch on the role of study visits as a means by which knowledge about policies and practices are gathered, disseminated, and exchanged. However, there has been little research into the study visits themselves—their rationale, effectiveness, or implications. Through her work with First Stop Portland—a study tour program with the mission of “Connecting Global Leaders with Portland’s Experts in Sustainability”—Sarah has spent a decade leading and documenting study tours for thousands of civic leaders from hundreds of international delegations, examining how First Stop Portland’s study tours function and interrogating Portland’s role as a model city in the global flows of sustainable urban development policy and best practices. In this City Talk lecture, Sarah will describe the origins and operations of the First Stop Portland study tour program, including its financing and pedagogy. Then, through a deeper dive into a few examples from her roster of visitors from the EU and elsewhere, she will discuss the program’s impacts and implications and offer recommendations for practice and policy for higher education, policymakers, and their partners across sectors.


Sarah is the Director of City Learning at First Stop Portland, an executive-level best practices exchange housed at Portland State University. She works with elected officials, civic leaders, and urban influencers from across sectors and around the world who visit Portland seeking strategies for making their places more equitable, inclusive, prosperous, and resilient. She has developed a place-based learning model to help cities and regions exchange ideas and practical wisdom more effectively and efficiently. No need to re-invent the wheel—let's share what's working and do more of it!

A community leader and connector, Sarah is active in urban planning and politics, organizing around issues of social justice and equity, placemaking, transportation, climate action, and housing and urban development. She is owner and founder of a beloved neighborhood restaurant, the Arleta Library Cafe, promoting fair labor practices and urban agriculture. She currently serves on the Board of Directors of the Halprin Landscape Conservancy; the City of Portland Bicycle Advisory Committee and Bureau of Transportation Budget Advisory Committee; and is co-founder of grassroots Arleta Triangle Project. Most recently, she has advised updates to the City of Portland Comprehensive Plan and the Portland Development Commission (now Prosper Portland) Strategic Plan. In addition to her work in Portland, Sarah travels internationally to share ideas and engage in conversations around sustainable urban planning and development efforts.

Thursday, January 31, 2019, 7:30pm

Legacy Art Gallery ~ 630 Yates Street, Victoria

Free Public Event

This City Talk is co-sponsored by the Erasmus+ programme of the European Union through the Jean Monnet EU Centre of Excellence at the University of Victoria.