Generating innovative community development strategies and solutions for addressing the opportunities and challenges unique to Upstate NY’s Rust Belt cities

The Rust2Green New York Action Research Initiative (R2G) unites and provides a network for the knowledge of its university and community partners, focusing on local assets – not deficits – and using engaged and participatory methods and practices along the way.

While R2G’s geography extends to Upstate’s seven legacy post-industrial cities and their regions, it has been actively at work in two cities. In 2010 its first partnership launched in Utica NY with the founding of R2G Utica.  By 2014, the R2G Binghamton partnership was underway.  In both cities, community and university partners have worked together on actionable projects producing beneficial community development impacts and outcomes.

In 2020, which marks R2G’s 10th anniversary year, results of the Rust2Green Collaborative Evaluation Project will provide new learning and understanding regarding its impact on the places and people its engaged. 

Who we are

Co-evolving since 2010 on campus and in communities

Since 2010, R2G has been developing and evolving to best support and foster reciprocal relationships and partnerships and innovative community development– with and in Utica and Binghamton– along with engaged student learning and scholarship. To make this happen, R2G has effectively co-evolved on campus and in the cities of Binghamton and Utica over a decade-long timeframe.

In Utica and Binghamton, R2G networks have been formed and organizations have stepped in to develop, sponsor and advance R2G activities. R2G has generated refreshing and dynamic synergies, collaborations and coalition building helping to further social sustainability and community development. In Utica, for example, R2G Utica, Inc. now operates as an independent non-profit with a dedicated Board of Directors and local Urban Studio staff. In Binghamton, CCE Broome and the Broome-Tioga Workforce NY are acting together to serves as R2G's local home base. In each city, a locally identified network of citizenry, groups and organizations are the face of R2G.

Our work at Cornell

Here on campus, service-learning courses, workshops, research collaborations and institutional infrastructure have all developed out of and in support of R2G. With its roots in Landscape Architecture, R2G was initially launched in that department with a 3-year USDA Hatch Grant entitled From Rust to Green Places and Networks: Mapping a Sustainable Future for Upstate NY (NYC-146455).  With time and as it grew, R2G made a move to its current home base, CaRDI, in the Department of Global Development (formerly Development Sociology). As a CaRDI affiliate, R2G is able to interconnect with a large cross-section of collaborators on campus and beyond, sharing knowledge and expertise related to community development as well as engaged education and research. 

R2G’s on campus network is comprised of faculty, extension educators, researchers and students as well as units and departments representing diverse disciplines and fields. Over the years, they have collaboratively joined together with an equally diverse representation of community collaborators and partners–in Binghamton, Utica and beyond–to generate and work together on a wide variety of community development projects involving research, urban design and planning, policy-making, and more.  

Our methodologies

R2G’s focus on people, place, and democratic engagement means that it pursues modes of collective inquiry, creativity and meaning-­making that help communities express themselves and work together. R2G turns to theories and practices of democratic design, community-­based arts and humanities, and placemaking to reinforce social sustainability’s central role in community development. To foster dialogue and reciprocity, we employ principles and methods from action research to facilitate participatory processes that drive collective understanding and address community development issues. R2G’s collaborative discoveries happen in participatory workshops, focus groups, surveys, visioning sessions, and meetings and co-created events such as festivals, summits, plays, performances, education gatherings and community-­builds.  Partners have undertaken neighborhood revitalization and design, conducted green energy studies, repurposed vacant lots into community gardens and parks, studied food system sustainability, enacted a food policy council, and implemented creative placemaking. 

Advancing scholarship

Cornell, R2G faculty, researchers and students are advancing scholarship related to community development–placemaking, flood resiliency, democratic design, engaged education, service-learning, green energy, sustainable development, etc.–through books and book chapters, urban design and landscape architectural design plans and reports, peer-reviewed research publications, conference presentations, community design and planning workshops and seminars, public talks and events, film, performance, exhibition and website platforms.

Community-based solutions

Our team

Shorna Allred
Shorna Allred
Paula Horrigan
Paula Horrigan
Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman

Cornell Faculty (active*)

  • Shorna Allred*, Associate Professor, Natural Resources & the Environment and Global Development
  • Robin Blakely-Armitage*, Senior Extension Associate, Global Development
  • Al George, 2014- 2018 Emeritus Professor of Mechanical Engineering 
  • Monica Hargraves*, Cornell Office on Research Evaluation
  • Claire Hebbard*, Cornell Office on Research Evaluation
  • Paula Horrigan*, Emerita Professor Landscape Architecture and Global Development
  • Rod Howe, 2013-2016 Past Director of Community and Regional Development Institute, Development Sociology
  • David Kay*, Senior Extension Associate, Global Development
  • Richard Keily*, Cornell Office on Engagement Initiatives
  • Heidi Mouillesseaux-Kunzman*, Senior Extension Associate, Global Development
  • Scott Peters*, Professor, Global Development
  • Annalisa Raymer*, Director of Cornell Learning and Service Partnership, Lecturer, Global Development
  • Deni Ruggeri, 2010-2011,  Landscape Architecture
  • Norm Scott, 2014-2018  Emeritus Professor of Biological and Environmental Engineering
  • Jeff Tester, 2014-2018, Director, Cornell Energy Institute and Professor, Smith School of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering
  • Jamie Vanucchi, 2010-2013, Landscape Architecture  
  • Mildred Warner, 2012-2016, Professor City & Regional Planning
  • Nancy Wells, 2012-2013  Professor, Design and Environmental Analysis

R2G Civic Fellows are both grad and undergrad student researchers working during the semester, summer, or on thesis alongside faculty researchers and community partners, on short and long term projects unfolding in Utica and Binghamton. R2G Civic Fellows have worked on flood resiliency, park and streetscape design and restoration, communications, green infrastructure, ecological educational curricula, microfinance, food systems, urban wildlife and habitat, refugee issues, sustainable school gardens and sites and neighborhood and community development.

R2G Binghamton Civic Fellows

  • Jacob Kuhn, Landscape Architecture, BS
  • Lily Moran, Environmental Sustainability and Science, BS
  • Sam Morrison, Performing and Media Arts, BA
  • Dana Schmidt, Environmental and Sustainability Science, BS
  • Sophia Clark, Urban and Regional Studies, BS
  • Luna Oiwa, Civil and Environmental Engineering, BE
  • Quan Yuan, Environmental Science and Sustainability, BS
  • Allie Zambito, Policy Analysis and Management, BS
  • Amanda Curtis, Development Sociology and Environmental Sustainability and Science, BS
  • Nadine Fuller, Science of Earth Systems, BA
  • Kevin Reigner, Environmental and Sustainability Science, BS (2020); Systems Engineering, MEng.
  • Yuncheng Wang, Urban and Regional Planning, BS

R2G Utica Civic Fellows   

  • Abby Grimshaw, Munson-Williams Proctor Art Institute BA
  • Aidan Chambliss, Landscape Architecture BS        
  • Aleksandar Jovanovic, Visiting Arch PhD, Austria
  • Amy Mclean, Landscape Architecture MLA        
  • Andrea Aguirre, Engineering PhD
  • Angela Moreno, Long, City & Regional Planning BS
  • Ben Hedstrom, Landscape Architecture MLA        
  • Ben Helmes, Landscape Architecture MLA, City & Regional Planning MCRP       
  • Ben Krenzer, Landscape Architecture BS
  • Bryan Denig, Landscape Architecture BS        
  • Carolyn Entelisano, Atmospheric Sciences BS      
  • Christina Twomey, Landscape Architecture MLA
  • Cristina Mejia Cancelado, Visiting Fellow from Brazil BA
  • Daniel Bursuck, Landscape Architecture MLA        
  • David Torrey de Frescheville, Landscape Architecture MLA
  • Eammon Coughlin, Landscape Architecture MLA
  • Emily Bauer, Landscape Architecture MLA                     
  • Emina Memisevic, Hamilton College BA     
  • Erik Jones, Landscape Architecture MLA                  
  • Gwendolyn Ellman, Landscape Architecture MLA                     
  • Hanzi Yang, Landscape Architecture MLA        
  • Heather Blaikie, Landscape Architecture MPS               
  • Isa Fernandez, Landscape Architecture MLA        
  • Jenna DiMare, Landscape Architecture MLA               
  • Juan  Castellanos, City & Regional Planning BS and Landscape Architecture BS
  • Julie Johnstone, MLA & MCRP  
  • Kevin Alexander, Hamilton College BA
  • Kong Chuijing, Landscape Architecture MLA        
  • Kristin Claus, Landscape Architecture MLA                         
  • Laura Durgerian, Landscape Architecture BS
  • Lin Xue, Landscape Architecture MLA                             
  • Liz Kushner, Landscape Architecture MLA   
  • Machaela Buckley, Utica College BA
  • Matt Gonser, Landscape Architecture MLA        
  • Mindy Appold, Landscape Architecture MLA  
  • Nicholas Farino: Engineering BS   
  • Nicolas Azel, Landscape Architecture MLA
  • Nicole Deister, Landscape Architecture MLA     
  • Pradeep Prathibha: Chemical Engineering BS
  • Rachel Yunyann Liu, City & Regional Planning BA
  • Rania Mirabueno, Landscape Architecture MLA                   
  • Rochelle Brahalla, Landscape Architecture BS  
  • Rudolph Uhlemann, Landscape Architecture BS        
  • Ruslan Filipau, Landscape Architecture MLA, City & Regional Planning MCRP       
  • Ryan M Shedd, City & Regional Planning BS       
  • Sarah Hermes, Landscape Architecture BS       
  • Shanshan Cao,Visiting PhD from China
  • Shirley Qian, CALS, BS                   
  • Sidney Beaty, City & Regional Planning BS
  • Sivan Sud, Systems Engineering BS
  • Tianshu Li, Engineering, BS      
  • Todd Robinson, Landscape Architecture MLA              
  • Tracy Hudak, Landscape Architecture MLA                            
  • Travis North, Landscape Architecture MLA, City & Regional Planning MCRP       
  • Victoria Demchak, City & Regional Planning MCRP       
  • Xinglu (Ashley) Ma, Landscape Architecture MLA    

In addition to Fellows, there have been more than 125 Cornell students who've been actively engaged in R2G projects happening in Utica and Binghamton whether through their participation in Landscape Architecture's R2G Capstone Studio, conducting research as part of a research team or through their work on a Masters or Honors thesis, exit or independent project.  Whether individually or as part of a team, they have collaborated with community partners and led and faciliated partipatory community workshops, conducted community-based research, created innovative detailed design plans and reports, designed and installed placemaking projects and creations, conducted community organizing, educational events, evaluations and surveys, and brought their imaginations along with relevant up-to-date knowledge to bear on the work at every turn. Their spirit and enthusiasm coupled with the empathy and concern they've shown to the people and places with whom they've worked has been widely welcomed and embraced and because of them, R2G Utica and R2G Binghamton have made important and ongoing strides!

In the news


Cornell University Evaluates Rust2Green (R2G) Impacts: Utica Participation is Key
Project leaders are encouraging all members of the Utica community to contribute to the University's online evaluation before its conclusion on April 12 by going to: . Recognizing...
  • Department of Global Development
  • Natural Resources and the Environment
  • Landscape Architecture
A black and white photo of an abandoned house with a leaf-less tree in front of it


To do that, Cornell’s Community and Regional Development Institute (CaRDI) hosts “From Zombies to Vacants to Sustainable Housing: Building Resilient Communities,” a symposium Oct. 23-24 at Warren Hall on the Cornell campus. The symposium will...
  • Community and Regional Development Institute


The event held Oct. 11-12 will bring prominent voices representing policy, practice and research from across the state to discuss flood risk and community resiliency.