KEC presents photo-geo-mapping results at spring forum

Jackie Bergeron

To celebrate Earth Day, the Kent Environmental Council presented the results of its photo-geo-mapping project at its annual spring forum on Monday.

The project required participants to send photographs of at least five different areas throughout Portage County and rate them on a good to bad scale. Participants were also required to submit 100-200 words with each photograph, describing things they liked or didn’t like about the areas pictured and noting the weather during the time of each shot.

Charles Frederick, both vice chair of the KEC and professor of geography at Kent State University, conducted the project and presented it during the forum.

Frederick said the project is partially due to research he’s doing through the department of geography in planning methodologies.

Dr. Eugene Wenninger, a professor emeritus of sociology at Kent State who helped develop the plan, said the results are also being used to measure the fulfillment of the city’s bicentennial plan that was developed as template for change within the community in 2004.

The bicentennial plan focused on three major pillars within the community: the environment, the economy and the social/cultural structure.

40 people participated in the project, and Frederick used 209 photographs. His findings were that there are 95 good areas, 28 moderate areas and 86 poor areas. Frederick is still accepting pictures.

The areas that showed the most problems mostly dealt with traffic and safety issues. The majority of the areas focused on are in downtown Kent.

Frederick said the next step is for like-minded people to come together and “turn it into a planning project.” He suggests presenting ideas for change at the KEC’s next forum mid-fall.

The KEC also hosted a panel during the forum to promote a discussion about active and sustainable living throughout the community. Panel members included Jim Bowling, Kent City Engineer; Bryan Smith, PARTA Director of Planning; and Krista Beniston, planning coordinator of Akron Metropolitan Area Transportation Study.

The panel also encouraged people in the community to speak out about their needs, ideas and things they wanted to see changed.

“All input is good input,” Bowling said. “When you present information, that’s how we steer the conversation.

“Even if we can’t address everything right away,” Bowling said. “It sets the framework to not make the same mistake twice.”

Contact Jackie Bergeron [email protected] .