The University of Pittsburgh at Greensburg and the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition will present their second speaker in the fall Growth Through Knowledge and Understanding speaker series that is focusing on environmental justice. Chris Perkins, a senior director with the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable, will discuss accessibility and equity in the use of public spaces on Wednesday, Oct. 6. The series is offered virtually and is free. Participants are asked to register in order to receive the Zoom log-in information. Each session will begin at 7 p.m. with an anticipated length of 45 minutes to 60 minutes.
Perkins, who lives in Victor, ID, with his wife and dog, earned a master’s in environmental management and a master’s in business administration at the Yale School of the Environment (YSE) and Yale School of Management (SOM). An outdoor professional, he has worked for the U.S. House of Representatives Natural Resources Committee, Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee, and the National Outdoor Leadership School.
Perkins supports Founder Teresa Baker on the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge (“The Pledge”), a commitment for outdoor businesses and organizations to improve on diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts. The Pledge now has over 180 corporate and nonprofit partners. The Pledge invites outdoor companies to promote inclusion and representation for people of color across marketing, leadership, and athletic/ambassador teams.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) defines Environmental Justice as “the fair treatment and meaningful involvement of all people regardless of race, color, national origin, or income, with respect to the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies.” It follows that if all people are going to be treated with dignity and respect, they need to have access to healthy and sustainable environments while recognizing that official policy and procedures have not been equitable for all populations.
The following schedule has been developed for the series:
- Wednesday, October 6 -- Accessibility/Equity in Use of Public Spaces, presented by Chris Perkins, a senior director with the Outdoor Recreation Roundtable
- Wednesday, October 20 -- Environmental Policies and Systemic Racism
- Wednesday, November 3 -- Use of Native Lands, presented by Lee Dingus of the Echoes of the Four Directions
- Wednesday, November 17 -- Consequences of Urban Planning and Climate Change and Its Effects on Minority Populations, presented by Justin Dula, of the Office of Environmental Justice, Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and vice president of the American Planning Association (Pennsylvania Chapter)
Carlotta Paige, founder and co-chair of the Westmoreland Diversity Coalition, and Al Thiel, director of the Student Center and Student Involvement at Pitt-Greensburg, are co-chairs of the speaker series. Their goal is to challenge participants to think about how to create a more equitable world that values respect and dignity for all people.