Clarkdale kick-off event sets the tone for a promising semester

Early Friday morning on January 31, 2020, 17 sleepy masters students in PUP 580: Planning Workshop, disembarked from a large gray charter bus to Clarkdale, Arizona. After two hours on the road, the ASU students, with their professors Meagan Ehlenz and Kim Kanuho, headed into the Old Memorial Clubhouse to meet with town leadership for the spring semester Project Cities kick-off. Project Cities’ kickoff events offer an initial opportunity for students and faculty to interact with town staff, set the tone for the semester, and get everyone started off on the right foot. Sipping coffee in the cool, crisp air, the students were eager to gain additional information and perspective for their developing projects. This spring, these students will work with Clarkdale to develop downtown revitalization plans focused on their historic business district and the 89A commercial corridor.

The first stop of the day was the “Men’s Lounge” of the Clarkdale Memorial Clubhouse, where Town Manager Tracie Hlavinka spoke to students about the history of Clarkdale, and the challenges and opportunities the town faces regarding further planning and development. Community Development Director Ruth Mayday, and her team (Technician Guss Espolt, Project Manager Mike Gray), as well as Public Works Director Maher Hazine, also spoke at length with the students, lending their unique perspectives on Clarkdale’s development opportunities. Students introduced themselves to town leadership, shared their individual backgrounds and expressed their areas of interest surrounding the project.

Following introductions, students broke into groups depending on their project focus areas to discuss their ideas in depth. Students took the lead from here, on a visioning exercise with town staff, sketching out initial development plans. Town leadership shared keen insight on the workings of the community, which greatly informed the students’ work, answered questions and provided critical initial feedback. After this initial planning session, students were taken on a walking tour of Clarkdale’s Downtown Business District where they were welcomed inside several historic buildings. The day concluded with a bus tour through another potential development site, the 89A highway corridor.

Students brought great energy and enthusiasm toward their developing projects at the kick-off. We are proud of their professionalism with Clarkdale staff and looking forward to seeing the final product, which will be unveiled at our next signature event, the Spring 2020 End-of-Semester Showcase on April 29th.

Project Cities ( is a member of the Educational Partnerships for Innovation in Communities Network ( and is administered by ASU’s Julie Ann Wrigley Global Institute of Sustainability ( and the Sustainable Cities Network ( Stay up to date with Project Cities and the Sustainable Cities Network by following us on social media or subscribing to our newsletter(