Here’s an explanation of terms and concepts that we use frequently. These definitions are specific to our work in open spaces, urban planning, and equity, and might be differently framed in your community and work. We also recognize that definitions can evolve over time.
The freedom from physical, cultural, communication, financial, and legal barriers.
Community is a broad concept. It refers broadly to a group that shares a feeling of “being in common,” either by living in the same place or sharing some particular characteristic or interest. Given this diversity of meaning, it is important to remember that all projects are embedded in and impact myriad communities, each with their own histories and heterogeneous composition.
Community assets map
A visual representation of a community’s assets—which can include transportation (highways, public transit, rail lines, parking lots), social infrastructure (libraries, parks, pools, schools, hospitals, community centers, gardens), and community-based organizations (places of worship, other service providers).
Committees composed of members of a specific community which are promoted, funded, and managed by park organizations to bring community voices and interests onto the decision-making process. They tend to have distinct tasks (ex. make decisions about what types of programs happen in a specific part of the park) or be broader in scope and purpose (ex. weigh in throughout the entire design process).
An approach to local economic development that works to produce shared economic prosperity, racial equity, and ecological sustainability, and places control and benefits into the hands of local people.
Community wealth building
As defined by community-wealth.org, community wealth building is a system-changing approach to community economic development that works to produce broadly shared economic prosperity, racial equity, and ecological sustainability through the reconfiguration of institutions and local economies on the basis of greater democratic ownership, participation, and control.
The intentional building of awareness and appreciation of intersecting backgrounds, perspectives, and experiences.
As defined by the Environmental Protection Agency, equitable development is an approach for “meeting the needs of underserved communities through policies and programs that reduce disparities while fostering places that are healthy and vibrant.” (Best Practices Toolkit V.1)
General or specific objectives, drawn from an infrastructure reuse project or organization’s mission or capacity, or community stakeholder and partnership interests. Equitable goals can pursue:
1. a thriving civic life and connection between infrastructure reuse projects and the communities they serve;
2. neighborhood affordability and equitable economic development opportunities;
3. health, wellness, resilience and/or community preparedness; and
4. a more robust organizational development growth and process for the staff and board members behind these spaces.
Change generated through deep intentionality, centered in goals and aspirations with an equity lens. For infrastructure reuse projects, this may include integrating employment and economic opportunity, affordable housing, neighborhood connectivity, health and well-being, cultural preservation, and diverse demographics.
Grounded in diversity and inclusion, equity is the just and fair allocation of power, resources, and opportunities.
Grounded in diversity, inclusion is the practice of seeking out, prioritizing, and implementing the expertise of diverse voices, recognizing that each is valid, valuable, and necessary.
A consequence of racial discrimination, segregation, and injustice within the context of urban planning and infrastructure development. Infrastructural racism has determined the location, proximity, and access to highways or expressways, bridges, railways, public facilities, and other types of industrial or transportation infrastructure in cities, which in many cases has negatively affected communities of color.
The adaptation and transformation of an existing piece of infrastructure—canals, railways, parking lots, bridges—into a public park.
A standard point of measurement or data used to track progress toward a defined goal.
Process of observing visitorship patterns of use or amenities or behavior in a park or open space.
Results derived from tactics and strategies set in place to pursue specific goals.
Just and fair access to and distribution of parks, green trails, community gardens, and other urban green spaces.
Park-in describes internal work of an organization and direct actions and impacts of an infrastructure reuse project. Examples: developing more equitable staff recruiting policies, improving board representation to include community members, or providing better access to a public space.
Park-out efforts go beyond geographical boundaries and direct activities. Examples: partnering with others to preserve or create more affordable housing, promoting more equitable policies in city government, or advocating for redistribution of public resources to address long-standing structural inequities.
A democratic process in which community members decide how to spend part of a budget. It gives people power over real money and in the process deepens democracy, builds stronger communities, and creates a more equitable distribution of resources. https://www.participatorybudgeting.org/what-is-pb/
A visual of stakeholders that reveals who is overrepresented and who is missing in an organization’s decision-making process.
Information from US Census databases, public health reports, local development reports, etc.
Information generated from an organization’s internal reports on audiences, program attendance, budget allocated, etc.
Pre-established questions designed to learn information about a specific issue or topic.
Targeted technical study
Study with specialized data collection methods, tools and/or analysis.
Theory of action
A high-level description of what an organization will do to achieve equitable impact. It should align with the organization’s mission. (See theory of change.)
Theory of change
A concise statement about the impact an organization wants to achieve through a project. It sets a vision for future outcomes first, even before defining the steps to getting there.