On Thursday, July 5th, Sustain Charlotte had the privilege to work with the smart, driven Scholars of the CMPD Envision Academy. The Academy, designed by Chief Putney, engages the Scholars in meaningful work experience and provides them with both CMPD mentors and a generous scholarship. These young people are hardworking, perceptive, and very invested in public service. All of us at Sustain Charlotte truly enjoyed our time with them!
Upon arriving at the office, the Scholars were met by Shook Kelley’s Michael Dunning, who gave a presentation about urban planning and architecture in Charlotte. They also learned about the history of South End and the changes that have been made since the area was founded. The Scholars asked a variety of questions about the work of architects and some of their current projects.
Then, some of the Sustain Charlotte staff talked about our impact on the community and how we’re working to make Charlotte more sustainable. We fielded the Scholars’ questions about how the city balances existing sustainable resources with new projects and plans for growth. This experience illuminated how sustainability can play a role in people’s day to day work.
After the presentation, the Scholars and Sustain Charlotte staff took an intrepid urban hike to the East/West Light Rail Station, where Officer Kermit Watkin from CMPD, Deputy JJ Letcavage from the Charlotte Mecklenburg Sheriff’s Office, Captain Evaney Nesbitt from G4S Security, and BJ Johnson from CATS Safety and Security discussed how their agencies work together to prevent and stop transit-related crime. Their personal experiences keeping our transit system safe included dealing with passengers’ mental health, and the racial and socioeconomic sensitivity that law enforcement demands from officers.
After the Q&A, the Envision Academy saw transit in motion by riding the LYNX Blue Line light rail up to 7th Street, where their mentors met them to conclude the day’s activities. For those of us who use light rail to get to the office, riding with the CMPD Scholars offered a fresh look at our daily commute. While it may not have been our typical ride at first, soon other office workers, grocery shoppers, schoolkids, and grandparents piled into the cars. The end result was exactly what architects and law enforcement alike are aiming for: a safe, shared space, where people headed in different directions choose to travel together.
We would like to thank CATS for generously donating transit passes for the youth and adult mentors to be able to ride the light rail, and for coordinating the security officers’ presentation. We appreciate Michael Dunning for sharing his time and expertise, and Shook Kelley for providing a comfortable conference room for the presentation.