Since early 2017, I’ve been managing a coalition of 30 cross-sector partners to translate a set of recommendations about equitable development in Pittsburgh into new measures the partners will adopt to make those shared top-line goals happen. This coalition is identifying policies and programs that will give Pittsburghers living at or below 200% of the poverty level greater access to safe affordable housing and economic opportunity, two of the goals identified in the 2016 All-In Pittsburgh report.
To this effort, I bring my experience as a planner, my knowledge of City processes, and experience with key players in Pittsburgh and the spaces each of them works in; all this helps me manage and find common ground within our coalition, and keep the process on track. We’ll be measuring our progress against a number of indicators we are looking to move within the next two to five years; keep up with the process as it evolves at allinpgh.org
River Roots is a section of Pittsburgh’s newest new park, Liberty Green, which will be in Larimer, a neighborhood in Pittsburgh’s East End. Supported by a grant from ArtPlace America, River Roots will be an innovative artist-designed landscape feature within Liberty Green that will tell the story of the Larimer community through captured rain water. I’ve been involved with the project since early 2017 as an owner’s representative for the community organization that received that grant, and I am managing the artist, Alisha Wormsley, and consultant teams responsible for the design of the project, as well as working with the Urban Redevelopment Authority, the entity building Liberty Green, through the design and construction phases of the project to bring it to life.
My deep knowledge of the design and construction process, as well as my experience moving projects forward through the necessary City departments and processes, has helped guide the project; and I’ve stayed with the team through the project to provide continuity throughout its development and construction. Throughout the effort, I’ve also advised the team about communicating with the community to keep neighbors in Larimer engaged with the project and excited about it as it breaks ground in 2019.
Pittsburgh Department of City Planning Public Engagement Strategy
I’ve been working with Pittsburgh’s Department of City Planning to develop a set of guidelines and a toolkit to set expectations for the people who facilitate public engagements and the people who participate in them throughout the city. The goal of this effort is to define and move forward what public engagements in Pittsburgh should look like and feel like, informed by practitioners’ and residents’ experiences and by what peer cities are doing. I worked with City Planning to convene a working group to identify a set of values to anchor how city-run public engagements should work; we then created a set of best practices reflecting those values, and a toolkit with tactics to use for engaging community stakeholders. The guidelines and toolkit will be released in April 2019 to coincide with the kick-off of the city’s Comprehensive Plan; and we hope that additional City departments will subsequently adopt them.
For me, this has been an exciting opportunity to document the experience I’ve had leading public engagement processes over the past fifteen years, and to coach and mentor younger planners. This effort is fundamentally about creating more and better connections between the City and communities within the city; and the creation of the guidelines has followed the same principles they outline: engaging with many different stakeholders and aligning together on a strategy to make a significant change.