After a year of surveys, community conversations and analysis, the Park City Community Foundation has finished a community strategic social equity plan, which was presented to the Park City Council Thursday.
The Park City Community Foundation has identified three areas of focus in the realm of social equity through a community-wide survey: affordable housing, education and inclusion. Community Foundation Social Equity Director Diego Zegarra says there are more areas where work can be done, but the first three are where government, non-profits and other community stakeholders can act promptly, at some level.
As far as housing goes, Zegarra says it’s not necessarily about raising millions of dollars to build more housing. One way to address community concerns is with increased advocacy efforts. Zegarra says there’s plenty of support for affordable housing in Park City, but people often comment at public meetings that they don’t want it in their neighborhoods. Zegarra thinks it could be beneficial to alert affordable housing advocates to those conversations.
“What if those voices were heard more often; what if council and [Mayor Andy Beerman] were to be privy to the vast support that exists in our community, both from the nonprofit world, the for-profit sector, and it's a conversation I know the [Park City Chamber of Commerce] is interested in having," Zegarra said. "Much like these Summit Land Conservancy conservation alerts that let folks know when there are important conversations happening around a topic they’re particularly interested in, what if that were to exist around housing?”
For education, Community Foundation Community Impact Director Ollie Wilder says there’s a specific need when it comes to early childhood. In this area, universal pre-k for the zero to three age group is a priority.
“Our first area is about how do we expand and ensure really high quality in center-based care," Wilder said. "The second one is support for parents and caregivers. There are a lot of people who are home with their kids, and how do we make sure that those kids also have the best possible opportunities to thrive and learn before they get to school?”
Zegarra says the last area of focus, inclusion, is difficult to talk about but integral to achieving the community’s social equity goals. The Community Foundation defines inclusion as an environment that engages diverse perspectives, ideas and individuals from different backgrounds to help shape conversations and policy. Zegarra says survey takers expressed a lack of feeling included at every income level and that it could begin to be addressed by the formation of a learning cohort.
“We don’t know enough about this, and we ought to be better informed in order to move forward with these conversations around race equity, around gender equity," Zegarra said. "What would it look like if we had folks in our community that were well-versed, and we had a deep bench of facilitators to carry this conversation forward within their own organizations--the city, the county, the school district, the nonprofit sector, the for-profit sector.”
Each priority area has a task force assigned to it, to guide efforts and find opportunities for progress in affordable housing, education and inclusion. At their meeting Thursday, the Park City Council expressed support for the social equity strategic plan.