The Pittsburgh Parks Conservancy (PPC) is committed to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility (DEIA) in Pittsburgh’s public parks. The PPC strives to create an organizational culture of inclusion and acceptance that reflects our core values and the voices of our diverse team. We understand that this is a continuous learning process and one that is never perfected. Through our work in the broader Pittsburgh community, we also endeavor to cultivate specific DEIA initiatives, promote the importance of diversity in nature and access to the outdoors, and work to ensure all individuals feel welcome in Pittsburgh’s parks.
Organizational Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Strategy
The PPC has established the following short term and long term DEIA goals.
Short-term Recommendations (1 Year Goals):
- Establish Accountability: Appoint a DEIA leader or leaders who will be responsible for creating DEI vision and driving progress. The appointed leader and/or advisory body should have resources and funding to be effective.
- Gather Human Capital Data: Identify and collect DEIA-relevant internal staff data (e.g.., # of staff identifying as a minority, recruitment data, promotion data, attrition data, etc.). Set benchmarks for desired growth and areas of improvement in identified data points.
- Develop Metrics & Metrics Tool(s): Establish relevant metrics based on current Human Capital data (i.e., increase in # of diverse hires and promotions). Create DEIA-focused metrics dashboard or improve existing dashboarding tools to embed DEIA-focused metrics.
- Educate & Train Staff: Continue offering education and training for staff to develop skills for effective allyship, emotional intelligence, and cross-cultural conflict resolution.
- Evaluate Effectiveness of Current Internal Infrastructure: Review existing action plans and priorities of internal Anti-Racism Discussion to Action group. Determine future roles and functions of group (i.e., train-the-trainers participants).
- Prioritize policies, procedures, and handbook content for amendments: Consider ISP recommendations on Policies & Procedures and Employee Handbook (e.g., gender-neutral language). Seek advisement and input from DEIA governing/advisory body.
- Conduct a comprehensive Employee Handbook Review
Mid to Long-term Recommendations (2-3 Year Goals):
- Collect relevant community data
- Amplify voices of historically marginalized communities
- Develop and embed DEIA Communications Strategy
- Adopt refreshed organizational Strategic Plan
- Design spaces for people with disabilities
- Establish Employee Resource Groups and Affinity Spaces
- Increase the number of diverse vendor suppliers
Organizational Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA) Achievements
- In 2019, the PPC conducted an analysis of 170 parks within the city of Pittsburgh, listened to feedback from over 10,000 Pittsburgh residents in 82 different communities, and collected data on the communities surrounding these parks. The result of this effort was the Equitable Investment Strategy (EIS), which ranks the parks in terms of their need for investment (i.e., current conditions) and in terms of the community need (i.e. racially concentrated areas of poverty, family poverty, youth population, senior population, vacancy rate, violent crime, etc.).
- Since the release of the EIS, the PPC has made significant strides toward investment in the parks that rank near the top of the EIS.
- In 2019, the PPC completed the restoration of the Patricia Rooney Memorial Fountain in Allegheny Commons Park, which ranks #4 on the EIS and is surrounded by Environmental Justice-designated communities.
- In 2020, the organization invested in a green infrastructure and entrance improvement project at McKinley Park, which ranks #2 on the EIS. Since then, the PPC has activated this park in Pittsburgh’s Hilltop with wellness-focused and environmental education programs and has secured funding to invest in the improvements of trails.
- In 2023, the PPC is beginning a meaningful and inclusive engagement process to solicit public input on the future of Homewood’s Baxter Park, which ranks #1 on the EIS. An overarching goal of this park planning process is to prioritize the voice of teenagers and children in this community.
- Over the last year, the PPC has engaged individuals with disabilities, caregivers, accessibility advocates, and children with exceptionalities in the design of a one-of-a-kind and fully accessible space within Frick Park. The design process was centered around universal design principles, which consider the needs of individuals with disabilities and ensured that all individuals, regardless of their needs, could participate through the use of screen readers and other tools. This public engagement process resulted in the design of the Outdoor Sensory Classroom and Nature Play Trail, which, once constructed in 2024, will become the first such space geared toward children with physical and intellectual disabilities in a public park in Pittsburgh.
- The organization’s current strategic plan prioritizes equity as a key priority and chargers the PPC with “adopting a long-term goal of bringing all parks in all city neighborhoods up to a high level of quality.” In 2023, the PPC will engage with a consultant to update and refresh the strategic plan to embed DEIA throughout.