Welcoming Pittsburgh has released their plan to build a more welcoming experience for Pittsburgh's immigrant community and more livable city for all. Everyone should read these recommendations and understand the long term implications for the region.  Really good stuff in the plan, many best practice strategies taken from other cities around the United States. The city of Pittsburgh did its due diligence in conducting community process around what it means to be a Welcoming City, and I am really happy to see Pittsburgh moving forward in making the city demographics on par with the rest of the country.  Below are outlined a few of my favorite recommendations, you can also read the full report here.

  • Municipal IDs
  • Connections to the neighborhoods
  • Welcoming City Ordinance
  • Community Policing Policy
  • Better access to ESL
  • Multi-language access
  • Advocate for City, State, Federal immigration reform

As we make this city more welcoming for immigrants we also need to be realistic about the harsh health and economic reality for black communities in the region. These disparities come as a result of decades of racist policies and community development projects. Evidence of this reality is seen in the many regional reports about diversity, among them the University of Pittsburgh's Center for Race & Social Problems  2015 report. Structural racism continues to be a barrier for health and economic equity in the city. Pittsburgh must be intentional in acknowledging this as it works to create equity for existing black communities as well as as support the influx of new immigrants, many of whom may be coming from places of political and economic instability themselves. Clearly we have our work cut out for us.

The Welcoming Pittsburgh plan is a transparent list of recommendations, made from community process and best practice models from around the country. It signals to us that the City of Pittsburgh is willing to do the hard work to grow this city in a sustainable and equitable way. But this work does not only fall to government.  I challenge us all to think about the ways we can participate in not only making the city a more "welcoming" place, but also play a part in dismantling the structural racism which persists as a barrier to the economic and social health of communities of color in Pittsburgh.

  • Those who hold power must give something up in order to create an equitable city.
  • "We" must stop inviting marginalized communities to the table and allow these communities to do the inviting.
  • Centralize culture and identity in community development (particularly when it comes to communities of color).
  • Understanding Intersectionality is key to serving any community holistically.
  • Build relationships for the sake of building relationships.
  • It is not enough to recognize community leaders in the spaces where they currently lead, we must create and support these leaders in seeking new leadership opportunities in every sector . This includes more diverse representation in government.

 Pa'lante mi gente.

 

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