The Perfect Size: A Case Study of Regionalism and Environmental Policy
MetadataShow full item record
Like most Senior Individualized Projects that come out of Kalamazoo College, my SIP journey was long, complicated, and full of unexpected turns. The budding ideas that finally culminated with this work emerged from an internship I had at Friends of Nature while I was doing my Integrative Cultural Research Project in Beijing. The organization requested that I do research on transportation systems, and specifically on bike cities around the world, so that best practices could be added to a report offering recommendations for Beijing. In the process of the research I discovered a passion for sustainable transportation policies and decided to focus my SIP research on that topic. Sustainable transportation is a massive topic that needed significant narrowing before it could become a relevant SIP topic. I spent a lot of time tossing around ideas and refining them or abandoning them after doing more research or engaging in conversations with professors and experts in the field. One important decision that I made early on was to limit the scope geographically. I realized that I would not be able to do enough field research to conduct a thorough comparative analysis, and therefore decided to focus only on Portland. The decision to pick Portland was guided by Portland's well know transportation system and bike infrastructure, but more importantly, by my personal interest, investment, and connections in Portland that I have because it is my hometown. Perhaps the most important and decisive tum of events that led me off of transportation and more towards a study of regionalism was my Ham Grant funded trip to Portland. While conducting interviews, I discovered that the one recurring theme everyone mentioned was Metro. At the time I did not know very much about Metro or what it does, but as I began to research deeper into the topic, I realized that Metro and its regional control hold the key to the sustainable development elements that I had wanted to study all along. At that point I was still far from a concrete research question. It was only after many conversations, articles, and sleepless nights that I arrived at the final approach and structure that follows below. While the final project does not deal only with transportation structures and policies, it delves deeper to the foundation upon which transportation systems are built, and in that way instructs on many of the questions I wanted to explore a year ago during my ICRP at Friends of Nature. The undertaking of such a colossal research project was extremely daunting for me. This project is by far the largest academic undertaking I have done. I am very grateful to the many people mentioned on the next page that' supported me and guided me along the way, leading me to this final result.