What Could A More Inclusive Community Look Like? 'Who Has A Voice' At The Table

Sep 13, 2019

After a year of data collection, analysis and input from stakeholders, experts and community members, the Park City Community Foundation rolls out its social equity strategic plan next week. 

The plan prioritizes three areas within social equity: affordable housing; education, with a focus on early childhood; and inclusion. Those issues were among the most widely mentioned in the community survey and in conversations with the community, along with income, access to health care and transportation, but Social Equity Director Diego Zegarra says the three priority areas are the most actionable. They also ran the gamut in terms of demographics of respondents who mentioned them as concerns.

“I think that there are some markers for disparities, but a lot of folks, regardless of socio-economic background, race and gender, are feeling those disparities,” Zegarra said.

It might be easier to talk about solutions for affordable housing and education—think creating more affordable units and universal access to pre-K—but Zegarra says inclusion can be trickier to understand. Survey respondents across the income spectrum reported a lack of feeling included. Zegarra says it’s about social connection and having a voice.

“Sometimes the voices that we're missing are the voices of the people that are experiencing the disparities," Zegarra said. "Inclusion speaks to that. Not just to who’s at the table but who has a voice and who has the ability to enact policy change, set strategy and be involved in the decision-making process.” 

But feeling included comes down to the individual, and it can be difficult to measure community-wide success in that area. Community Impact Director Ollie Wilder says the Community Foundation could put the question “do you feel included” to survey respondents again, after some action has been taken.

"When we go back and do a similar survey two, three years from now—whenever that is—that's a question we can look at and say, 'is that improving? Are fewer people saying that that's a big issue?'"

Wilder says the community can also look to local boards and commissions to see if there’s an improvement in diversity among their members.

“One of the things we hope to do is create a kind of a leadership campaign where we're encouraging people and helping give them tools to diversify and make their processes more inclusive," Wilder said. "We can actually ask people how many people in these different groups or communities serve on your board and try to pull that together and see how that changes over time.”

With the strategic plan complete, Zegarra says local government, for-profit businesses and non-profit organizations all play a part in implementing it, as a community effort.

"Our role is how do we make this plan happen," Zegarra said. "How do we find the funding, and where do we go for some of these interventions to start taking place."

The Park City Community Foundation launches the social equity strategic plan with a presentation and celebration Tuesday, Sept. 17 at 6 p.m. at the Legacy Lodge. It’s free for the community to join, but the Community Foundations asks those interested in attending RSVP at parkcitycf.org.