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7/1/2010 —

This fall the campus will showcase some extraordinary organizations that bring the change that is needed in communities far beyond a typical “Band-Aid fix.” Laura Guertin, associate professor of earth sciences, will host the third annual, three-part Voices of Innovation Seminar Series, which will invite organizations to share how they are helping local Philadelphia communities see change for the better. This series is open to the public.

“The Voices of Innovation seminars have been a transformative experience for some of our students,” Guertin said. “They have opened their eyes to opportunities for them to make a difference in their local communities.”

The first seminar, on Monday, September 13 (location TBA), will feature the Philadelphia competition chair of Canstruction, Inc., a foundation of the Society for Design Administration that holds competitions nationwide challenging engineers, architects and students to construct designs made out of canned goods. The items then get donated to local food banks. Attendees will learn about how Canstruction, Inc. is involved with Philabundance, the region’s largest hunger relief organization.

In July 2008, alumna Dana Gibson, then a Penn State Brandywine senior, initiated a food drive on campus to benefit Philabundance after learning about its mission at the Voices of Innovation Seminar held during the previous fall semester.

The second and third seminars will feature two organizations dedicated to beautifying Philadelphia. SCRUB, the “Public Voice for Public Space,” an organization that works to ensure Philadelphia public spaces are healthy and beautiful for its citizens, will visit campus on Monday, September 27. The organization tries to prevent unsightly signage in both urban and suburban spaces surrounding the city and protects public parks and recreational places from closing or being taken over by big business.

The third and final seminar, on Monday, October 25, will bring to campus the executive director and founder of Urban Tree Connection, an organization that, along with its corporate partners, believes that in addition to making empty lots in socioeconomic areas more visually pleasing, they can be turned into healthy, social gathering places. With the help of youth living in the affected areas, members of the organization plant gardens and trees in these seemingly abandoned spaces.

“I try to choose organizations that people haven’t heard of before but that are here and committed to Philadelphia’s citizens and to helping make the region a better place,” Guertin said. And she hopes other students like Gibson will be inspired to pursue internships or projects with these philanthropic organizations.

This fall, honors students, under the guidance of Guertin and Associate Professor of Engineering Ivan Esparragoza, will design a “canstruction” for Philadelphia’s spring competition with the hopes that others on campus will volunteer to bring the design to life.

The goal of the Voices of Innovation Seminar Series is to both inspire and encourage members of Penn State Brandywine and its neighbors to get involved in the community. All seminars will be held in the Commons Building, room 203 at 12:30 p.m. For more information about this series, contact Laura Guertin at uxg3@psu.edu or 610-892-1427.

For more information on these organizations, visit http://www.canstruction.org/ for Canstruction, Inc., http://www.publicvoiceforpublicspace.org/ for SCRUB and http://www.urbantreeconnection.org/ for Urban Tree Connection.

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