The Endowments’ Sustainability strategic funding area incorporates the activities of the foundation’s former Environment & Health and Community & Economic Development program departments. The Sustainability funding area seeks to address underlying threats to Pittsburgh’s quality of life while focusing on opportunities to support the region’s health, safety and prosperity, now and for the future.
The Sustainability area’s vision is to contribute to a Just Pittsburgh, where economic and community development and healthy environment systems protect and benefit all citizens, where race, experience, identity and zip code do not determine life outcomes, where air and water are safe and where large sections of poor and vulnerable populations are not left behind.
As part of our Sustainability strategy, the Endowments seeks to improve the economic position of marginalized populations and places by advancing a clean economy, protecting the environment and public health and pursuing equitable development.
The Endowments also is focused on reducing disparities in our broad community related to environmental health, increasing access to healthy foods and successfully reintegrating veterans and their families into our community, in recognition of the assets they represent for our region.
Improve people's economic position through higher wages, family-sustaining employment and entrepreneurship.
- Connect workers on the margins to family-sustaining employment.
- Expand minority entrepreneurs’ access to capital and business development assistance.
- Bolster opportunities for minority entrepreneurs to manage and increase their own income.
- Connect opportunities from the innovation economy to all residents.
Endowments point of contact: Rob Stephany, Director, Community & Economic Development
Advance a clean economy with renewables, green infrastructure and climate-friendly solutions.
- Implement renewable and alternative energy solutions.
- Apply green infrastructure best management practices to improve the water quality in Pittsburgh’s rivers and streams while providing secondary benefits to communities.
- Promote innovative strategies at the neighborhood, local and regional level to reduce climate pollution.
Endowments point of contact: Philip Johnson, Director, Environment & Health
Pursue socially just economic opportunity so that distressed neighborhoods thrive without displacing vulnerable residents.
- Target distressed neighborhoods that are adjacent to strong markets that can leverage public and private capital to improve housing markets without displacing vulnerable residents.
- Embrace first-in-class civic design.
- Connect Pittsburgh through “complete streets,” transit-oriented development and alternative transportation.
- Engage the arts and artists in socially just community revitalization, ennobling culture and neighborhood beautification.
Endowments point of contact: Rob Stephany, Director, Community & Economic Development
Restore and protect Pittsburgh’s environmental systems, and enhance its public health.
- Protect all populations from disproportionate harm caused by pollution and reduce environmental health burdens, especially among those experiencing environmental injustice.
- Encourage socially and environmentally responsible use of western Pennsylvania’s natural resources.
- Deepen community engagement and leadership networks through education, outreach and advocacy.
- Advance independent, comprehensive and fact-based scientific knowledge to foster healthy environments.
Endowments point of contact: Philip Johnson, Director, Environment & Health
Promote community health and vitality through sustainable food systems, especially in food deserts.
- Improve access to fresh, healthy, local foods in low-income neighborhoods.
- Promote urban agriculture as a means of increasing food security and educating participants about food systems.
Endowments point of contact: Andrew McElwaine, VP of Sustainability
Create communities where military veterans and their families are welcomed, valued and understood.
- Create easy-to-navigate pipelines to family-sustaining jobs, services, and opportunities for veterans and service members in the region.
- Equip post-9/11 veterans and service members with the skills and networks necessary to become regional leaders.
- Promote changes in workforce initiatives, social services, program funding and community conversations about veterans by supporting and advancing the narrative that veterans are assets for the region.
- Work proactively and preventatively in the support of veterans, service members and family members, and promote best practices to impact predominantly reactive public policy.
Endowments point of contact: Megan Andros, Program Officer, Community & Economic Development
Cool Globes has landed in Pittsburgh, bringing 30 large globe sculptures to Market Square, PPG Plaza and Gateway Center for an interactive public art experience designed to raise awareness and inspire viewers to take action on climage change. Created by renowned artists, the globes display messages about how individuals and businesses can reduce and mitigate climage change through everyday actions. The Cool Globes exhibition has traveled to four continents over the past decade. Pittsburgh is the 20th stop in Cool Globes' journey. Local viewers are encouraged to share social media pictures of themselves with their favorite globe with the hashtag #coolglobespgh.Learn more
The Heinz Endowments and the City of Pittsburgh host new p4 Conference
The p4 event opened at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on April 25 and continues through April 26 focused on the theme ‘Future City.’ Following are opening remarks by Grant Oliphant, President of the Endowments. For more information about p4 visit www.p4pittsburgh.org.
p4 2018 Opening Remarks
This happened recently. This is Pittsburgh artist Alisha Wormsley’s work, “There are black people in the future.” As great art often does, it provoked a huge reaction. Because it was in East Liberty, it made a powerful statement about forces of gentrification, displacement, and cultural erasure. It seemed to ask—who is this community for?
The absurd decision to take it down illustrated white America’s huge discomfort with race. I can just imagine the “All Lives Matter” crowd grumbling, “What about white people? Is she saying there won’t be white people?” And of course that’s not what she’s saying, but you just know it happened. Actually, you don’t need to guess, you can check online.
Which tells you something about how tribal and divided we’ve become. Incidentally, because now the forces of oppression routinely co-opt progressive language to justify their heinous views, let me say this: it is emphatically NOT tribal for an oppressed minority or gender or group to protest their oppression and claim their absolute right to full and equal participation in American democracy and society. Black Lives Matter, Me Too, Times Up, are a cry for universal freedom, not special privilege, and any attempt to silence these voices in the name of tolerance is a disgusting and self-serving sham.
Somewhat wonderfully, Ms. Wormsley says she had none of this in mind. She describes herself as a sci-fi nerd who just wondered where the black people were in stories about the future. Her work basically asked, Who is the future for?
I celebrate this work because of all of that, but mostly because for me it so perfectly captures the core concept at the heart of p4, which is to be intentional about the city and the future we are creating, especially in terms of who it is for.
I love the fact that tomorrow outside this conference a protest is planned, I think even by some of you, against Amazon HQ2 coming to town. We may agree or disagree on elements of that, but wherever you stand on it, we should all want to live in a community where these questions are being actively debated, discussed, and planned for—and I just want to say to everyone who feels passionately about that, whether we agree or not on the particulars, thank you.
P4 merely gives us a framework for how to think about all of this, to be truly thoughtful – in a way virtually no American community ever has been – about what we are wishing into being. We started this 3 years ago, so what have we learned, thanks primarily to all of you, both inside and outside of this process?
We’ve learned that our original premise was even more correct than we assumed. The planet is indeed urbanizing, and Pittsburgh is indeed benefiting from those global trends. There’ll be 10 billion people on the planet by 2050, about 6.6 billion in cities. We need cities to reinvent themselves in a way that feeds human aspiration and doesn’t cause widespread misery along with the poisoning of our climate, seas, air, water, and public health.
We are learning that Pittsburgh’s outstanding research universities, deep sense of place, walkable communities, and cultural and natural amenities really are a magnet for entrepreneurs, innovationbased companies, and creative people of all types, from restaurateurs to bloggers. We have the goods and the people to create a future-oriented economy, but only if we value them.
We have also learned the perils of taking that for granted. We’ve learned that air quality really does matter, that water quality really is important, that public health really counts for something. For our health, obviously, and we should just be able to stop there, end of sentence, full stop. But in America we always have to justify things in terms of money and economy.
So, fine, we have also learned that this shiny economic future collapses if we can’t get our
environmental act together. How do we imagine that stories likening our water system to Flint or our air quality to the worst in the country, land on people and companies that might want to locate here? How
do we imagine they land on us here? This is not a PR problem – it is a failure of public will, of imagination and of effort. It is a fixable problem—so for God’s sake, let’s fix it.
We have learned that equity really counts. That when we are mindless about displacing people, or oblivious to how growth affects neighbors, or indifferent to how prosperity gets shared, or mindless about who wins and who loses from development, or willfully ignorant about how we are poisoning the homes and neighborhoods of the least advantaged worst of all, we sow the seeds for present suffering and future failure. It should be enough to say this is about fairness, but it rarely is. So let’s acknowledge what we are learning from the widening and increasingly obscene wealth disparity around the globe, that unfettered capitalism stripped off social value and free of policy constraint is a formula for social, political and economic decline.
We’ve learned that quality of life and how we design our cities and technologies, and who we design them for, matters. The companies that are coming here or staying and growing here are doing it because of investments we have made in art, culture, parks and public space, in inspiring design and walkable neighborhoods, in real places that benefit people first. To take one small example, Mayor Peduto took a boatload of heat for his commitment to bike lanes, but bike lanes are one small symbol of a broader commitment to sustainability and to being a city for the young and the not so young.
We are learning how right we were in our concern over the connection between cities and climate change. We are baking our planet faster than we had anticipated and cities need desperately to offer new paths forward, and the ones who do will seize the future. Faced in this country with the complete collapse of a hostile federal government on this and so many other critical policy fronts, we need to become the engines of innovation and change. The fight for our climate future starts right here.
We have learned what we apparently keep needing to learn and relearn in this country, that racism and sexism and all manner of other-ism are alive and well in America and in Pittsburgh, and that they hurt us all. We must stand against these forces with all the vigilance and force in our power. But more than that, we have to stand FOR something, which we describe with banal words like inclusion and diversity when what we really need is love. We need to love each other enough to make room for everyone. Regions seen as hostile to others because of their religion, the color of their skin, their gender or gender orientation, their sexual orientation, where they came from, their immigration status—these regions may become safe havens for hate, but they will fail.
Look, we have learned and are learning so much. But basically what we have learned is that this is our moment to do something right in Pittsburgh that no American city has gotten right before—to use this period of momentum to strive to become a community that embraces all its people, that respects its environment and planet, that protects its sacred places and heritage and identity and connections with history and the land, and that understands its obligation to perform at a high standard of excellence for all. How do we make that our future city?
When we launched this process, we acknowledged that we were already operating in a moment in time, a brief window of opportunity when a new momentum was making change possible but it was not already too late to chart a course to where we really wanted to go. That moment is further along now, and we cannot act as though the window will remain open forever.
Bob Dylan, who even I can quote now because he’s a Nobel Prize winner, once sang, “He who’s not being born is busy dying.” What we’ve tried to do in this conference is to array some voices who can help us think about what we want to be born to now. And then it will be up to us, collectively and individually, to get busy giving birth to something new. What will it be? So let’s get started. Mayor Bill Peduto…
Click here for a PDF of Grant's remarks.
p4 Progress Takes Hold in Uptown
There may be no more appropriate community “welcome” sign than resident James Simon’s soaring mosaic and mirror sculpture that greets those traveling on Fifth Avenue from Oakland into the heart of Pittsburgh’s Uptown neighborhood. Bright leaves, birds and fantastically colored wildlife shine, their individual brilliance joining to form the 25’ tall tree-shaped “Welcome to Uptown” sign. It has become a landmark for this 1.5 mile stretch along the Monongahela that connects the city’s university corridor with the Golden Triangle. Longtime residents, students and tech entrepreneurs join artists and families to form a lively neighborhood with both historic buildings and new apartment structures.
It is in this arena of new construction that Uptown Partners of Pittsburgh’s Jeanne McNutt works to ensure that the ideals of Pittsburgh’s p4 conferences have demonstrable effect on the neighborhood where she lives and works. Co-convened by The Heinz Endowments and City of Pittsburgh, the p4 Conferences – 2015, 2016 and April 2018 – tackle issues of people, planet, place and performance, and have provided inspiration for new initiatives that foster sustainable, innovative and inclusive growth.
As Uptown Partners’ executive director, Ms. McNutt is a longtime resident and advocate for the neighborhood, and serves as a community voice as new development takes hold in the Uptown EcoInnovation District (EID). She has worked with the City’s Department of City Planning, institutions and stakeholders in Uptown to create the “The EcoInnovation District Plan” – Pittsburgh’s first City-adopted community plan.
“The EcoInnovation District Plan” was built through an extensive City and neighborhood-led community planning process and was inspired by both national best practices and concepts generated during the p4 conferences. Meant to guide both community and public partners who have a stake in Uptown’s future, neighborhood input was key in the EID Plan’s creation. Public gatherings designed to collect input – including outdoor events with food trucks and music – attracted over 550 people, and 50 individual interviews and 20 focus group meetings were among the outreach efforts that lead to the plan.
Not only was the two year input process valuable for neighborhood planning purposes, it also had an unexpected benefit. “The interactive planning events brought the diverse community together,” said Ms. McNutt. “The bonus was hearing residents’ enthusiasm for more opportunities to enjoy each other’s company.”
Those involved in the planning process shared input, including safety concerns due to vacant land, buildings and surface parking lots that are empty at night. The input gathered at public sessions - along with citywide discussions like the p4 Framework - shaped the EID plan and its vision for the district. The Department of City Planning then created a new land use system based on the community’s goals and the vision articulated in the plan. The EcoInnovation District Zoning announced on March 1 includes a Performance Points System that allows flexibility for developers while ensuring that projects keep within parameters outlined by the neighborhood.
The Performance Points System includes a “height bonus” element, allowing buildings to rise above the normal height limit in exchange for inclusion of one or more components from a list of public amenities identified through public input during the EID planning process. Consistent with the p4 Framework, the slate of height bonus options includes affordable housing, management of stormwater with green infrastructure, building energy efficient structures, inclusion of historic design elements and rehabilitation of older buildings. Ms. McNutt believes the new height bonus “is the carrot that has the potential to entice new construction, and be a win for both community and developers. This is an innovative development tool to help us 'get it right' as we respond proactively to pressures of a changing market.”
Ms. McNutt knows that Uptown has its challenges, but believes with continued thoughtful, community-focused planning it can thrive. She, too, loves the colorful, soaring “Welcome to Uptown” sign for all the creative energy it represents. “Uptown has the right combination of location, character, development opportunities and determination to be an even more vibrant part of the fabric of The City of Pittsburgh.”
Photo by Heather Mull
CMU launches Metro21: Smart Cities Institute
Carnegie Mellon University has launched Metro21: Smart Cities Institute as a university-wide academic center for excellence in research, development and deployment in addressing 21st century challenges facing metro areas.
The goal of the initiative is to create Pittsburgh as the hub of pioneering work to improve the metropolitan quality of life for all citizens. Metro21 will lay the groundwork for innovations in technology, policies and their interactions to foster smart and connected cities and communities.
Metro21 is founded on the three pillars of research, education and partnerships with the public and private sectors. Metro21 will study, model, enhance and optimize all aspects of urban issues including transportation, utilities (including water, sewer, electricity, gas and telecommunications), law enforcement, safety and air and noise quality.
At a launch event today (March 2, 2018), Farnham Jahanian, CMU’s Interim President, was joined by keynote speakers Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Chief Executive; Karina Ricks, Director Department of Mobility and Infrastructure at the City of Pittsburgh and Grant Oliphant, President of The Heinz Endowments.
Grant Oliphant’s remarks available here.
Capturing the Next Economy: Pittsburgh’s rise as a global innovation city
Pittsburgh’s innovation economy is strong and growing, but city leaders can do more with its existing assets to compete globally and capitalize on the region’s growing innovation clusters, according to a new report from the Anne T. and Robert M. Bass Initiative on Innovation and Placemaking at the Brookings Institution.
The culmination of an 18-month study, “Capturing the Next Economy: Pittsburgh’s rise as a global innovation city” examines Pittsburgh’s unique opportunity to become a top global destination for technology-based economic activity and as a key part of Pittsburgh’s efforts to become a world-class innovation city.
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