By Alex Lunine, Resilient Communities Program Manager
Over the course of the past five months, SuSol’s high school Youth Air Protectors have dedicated themselves to learning about the air quality in Fairfield and using their voices to bring the community together to tackle environmental injustices in the city. From spreading awareness at tabling events throughout Fairfield, to helping to facilitate air quality-focused meetings, to leading residents on a sustainability walking tour of downtown, the Youth Air Protectors have been indispensable in the push for a healthier, more breathable Fairfield.
August marks the last month of this internship cohort, and our students will be presenting their final projects to the community on Aug. 27. Each air protector chose a street in Fairfield with poor walkability and high volumes of traffic, and reimagined them to be more pedestrian friendly, green and promote cleaner air. We believe that if their concepts and ideas were actually implemented, such changes could help to reduce the high asthma rate of Fairfield, mitigate the impacts of the urban heat island effect, and bring our community together on our sidewalks and streets.
Here the YAP interns share about their final projects. See the projects and talk with the students on Aug. 27! (Ed. Note: Intern statements are lightly edited for clarity.)
“I redesigned the intersection of North Texas and Utah Street to make traveling through the area more sustainable. My design includes protected bike lanes and sidewalks, reduced lane sizes to protect pedestrians further, better views, bus stops, and more! I’m a firm believer that walkability is one of the most essential (and undervalued) parts of a sustainable city, and this project reflects that.”
– Sachi Bansal
“I decided to choose the street redesign project because after taking a sustainability walk around downtown Fairfield, it became clear that there are a lot of improvements to be made for Fairfield’s roads. The main issues I noticed during the walk were a lack of shade on the sidewalks, the lack of safety for bikers on the bike lanes, and lack of greenery. I wanted to make a drawing of a street where I implemented changes to combat these issues.”
– Prabhjot Kaur
“For my project I decided to redesign the street Travis Boulevard. I thought that it had too many street lanes and though it made sense since it leads to a highway, I reimagined it to be in a people-oriented city and worked upon that. Along with changing the street I also changed the buildings and parking lots in a way where it would look more pleasing, and easier to access. I also added wider sidewalks, a bus stop and a bicycle rack so it would encourage public transportation. I hope that Fairfield in the future would incorporate these ideas to create a more sustainable environment while also adding more elements that persuade people to try to live sustainably; like recycling, farming, shopping locally and more!”
– Esther Lopez
“I choose to redesign the Pennsylvania Avenue and West Texas Street intersection because it has a lot of potential in terms of walkability. In this model, I hope to show that Fairfield can become more people-friendly even with our current infrastructure.”
– Hannah Lopez
“Enhancing Fairfield’s existing infrastructure to be more sustainable is imperative in bettering the lives of residents while promoting an eco-friendly lifestyle. For my project, I chose to redesign the Gateway Plaza, a strip mall located adjacent to the Solano Town Center. Featuring a sizable parking lot with hundreds of parking spaces and minimal walkability, the Gateway Plaza is a motorist’s paradise. Through visualizing how the area could be altered with bikers and pedestrians in mind, I intend to show how changes towards sustainability are realizable in even the most seemingly despairing of locations.”
– Harjot Singh