Photo by Shelby Dye

Fayetteville Sustainability Director Peter Nierengarten And OLLI Students Fayetteville Historic Downtown Square

“A healthy Public, mean a healthy earth” ~ Angus Amendariz, City of Fayetteville, AR, Sustainability and Resilience Intern


Fayetteville, ARK – OLLI students traversed Downtown Fayetteville for a first-hand look at Fayetteville’s sustainability initiatives in action, Thursday, May 10, 2018. Led by Fayetteville Sustainability Director Peter Nierengarten, students traveled from the Fayetteville Historic Square, down School Avenue to Dickson Street to observe and discuss the steps the city is taking toward achieving a more sustainable community. Students were delighted to explore their city through the unique lens of sustainability.

What does Fayetteville know about sustainability?

Chief of Staff of Sustainability under Mayor Lioneld Jordan, Nierengarten has worked tirelessly to develop strategies for sustainable living for the citizens of Fayetteville and the Northwest Arkansas community at large. Initiatives include working with natural systems and the built environment, alongside educational programs regarding climate and energy, health and safety, as well as the local economy and job market.

Can citizens get involved?

Tactical urbanism is a sustainability initiative taking Fayetteville by “storm.” Nierengarten explained to OLLI students that tactical urbanism or low cost temporary changes to the built environment, “allows for citizens to submit design ideas for changes to roadways and intersections to department for review.” The goal is to beautify and stimulate the community landscape while increasing the safety, walkability and vibrancy of our community to lead to permanent community improvement. Many OLLI students were unaware of the power they have as citizens to directly impact change in their communities. Through tactical urbanism, local citizens enjoy playing a critical role in the development and maintenance of their neighborhoods and other highly trafficked areas.

Students learned about several other projects being undertaken by the city to improve the quality of life for its citizens while simultaneously meeting climate and energy goals. Some initiatives included: electric car charging stations placed strategically around city, recycling, and biking. Programs like The Urban Agriculture Ordinance, Invasive species removal and native plant replacement, The Naturalistic Trails Ordinance, and The Mayor’s Monarch challenge are in place to encourage citizens to get involved with the health of their communities.

Beautiful Sustainability

Students were especially delighted to learn about a public street art project underway on School Avenue near downtown Fayetteville. This environmental art project represents a topographic map burned onto the roadways of School Avenue. The installation spanning from the Fayetteville Public Library to Dickson Street was created in conjunction with a partnership with Artosphere, Environmental Artist Stacy Levy and a collaboration with a grant the city received through the National Endowment for the Arts. The piece will feature a series of blue lines, each representing one foot difference, higher or lower, in elevation. These lines will demonstrate to the public the natural flow of water, showcasing patterns of movement. For example, the movement of water into nearby springs, streams, and ultimately into Beaver Lake, a public water supply source for the city.

Levy’s hope is that this visual representation of natural events will incentivize citizens to be mindful of road pollution. “This is a world premiere of this project, I’m making topographic map on a five block street. I’ve worked with a lot of cities and it’s (Fayetteville) the most cooperative city,” Levy said.

How can we help?

Sustainability and Resilience Intern under Nierengarten, Angus Amendariz, told OLLI students that, “a healthy public means a healthy earth.” Students concluded the tour with a newfound understanding about the importance of localized sustainable living. Many students were unaware of the steps they could take toward nurturing a more sustainable Fayetteville. OLLI volunteer of the year Trisha Beland remarked, “You know we drive by all this stuff and never notice anything, we’re seeing sustainability in action.” Visit the city’s website to learn more about sustainability initiatives taking place in Fayetteville and how you can get involved.