Morningside And Westside Are Going From Grey To Green
"Pittsfield Grey to Green" will take place in the Morningside and West Side areas.It is part of a project to engage the community and prioritize green planning in a social and racial justice context.
IBerkshires.com reports that according to Senior Planner Allison Egan, studies have shown that low-income neighborhoods are more concrete or "gray" than higher-income neighborhoods, which can have a deleterious effect on the health of residents.
Senior Planner Allison Egan told the Berkshire Regional Planning Commission on Thursday. Studies have shown that low-income neighborhoods are more concrete or "gray" than higher-income neighborhoods, which can have a deleterious effect on the health of residents. Having more green space in a neighborhood can contribute to longevity and encourages healthy outdoor recreation.
"Grey to Green" is funded for five years and is estimated to cost about $185,000 a year. The project's primary partners are Central Berkshire Habitat for Humanity, 18 Degrees Family Services, and the city of Pittsfield. The team is also working with community partners in the Morningside and West Side neighborhoods.
"When we were applying for these funds, The primary thing they wanted to see was that the initiative was addressing structural racism in some way."
The funding source was opened last fall, before the current racial justice movement taking place in the United States. BRPC first reviewed existing plans, surveys, assessments, and other studies conducted in the two areas to get an idea of the residents' needs.
The project aims to address areas of structural and environmental racism and environmental justice as well as exploring the roots of environmental justice through communication, education, and advocacy.
BRPC wants to amplify the voices of Black people and people of color in Morningside and West Side, building initiatives around their needs as seen through their lived experience, not imposing solutions but listening with curiosity.
BRPC wants to Include residents of these neighborhoods into the plans, training them to do city audits and collaborating with them to establish the areas' needs.
Before they created the initiative for the application, BRPC started looking at data to see if racial inequity is happening, where racial diversity is in the city, what the poverty level is, and the health status of different communities.
The data showed that Morningside and West Side areas have a median yearly income of about $22,500, while the remainder of the city's median incomes were more than double.
About 31 percent of the population in the Morningside and West Side neighborhoods are people of color, while only about 11 percent of the population in the remainder of Pittsfield are people of color. They also found out the was a significant income gap between the two areas
Recent BRPC analysis also showed stark differences in life expectancy across Pittsfield based on the neighborhood of residence. Those living in the Morningside/West Side neighborhoods live on average 10-12 fewer years than those in the more income-resourceful southeast neighborhood.
The life expectancy in Morningside and West Side is 71, while the southeast residents have an expectancy of 83 1/2.
BRPC overlaid Google satellite data to see where green spaces existed such as parks, lawns, and trees. They found that the West Side and Morningside are significantly more gray and the housing stock is more degraded.
If you look at the southeast and north Pittsfield areas they are more green with hardwood trees, forests, large well-maintained parks, and tree-lined streets.