As part of SCAPE’s stated and ongoing commitment to expanding pathways for diversity within landscape architecture – and, in particular, our office – the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee (DEIC) at SCAPE collaborated with the wider firm through a series of workshops and meetings to develop a workplan and set of ongoing commitments to delineate the firm’s path forward. As a firm, we will:
1. Clarify and communicate SCAPE’s social values. We will highlight SCAPE’s ongoing commitment to racial and environmental justice in external and internal forums, defining an anti-racist practice as a value in all our work. We will continue to pursue projects and client groups that align with our publicly stated values.
2. Amplify BIPOC narratives and partners in SCAPE work and media. SCAPE will expand current project narratives to amplify historic and contemporary BIPOC voices and histories. We will use our social media feeds to celebrate and highlight the incredible voices of BIPOC designers and the communities and organizations we work with.
3. Mentor BIPOC youth and emerging professionals in the field of landscape architecture and expand pathways to practice. SCAPE will participate in high school mentorship programs focused on the architecture, construction and design industry. We will continue our longstanding pro-bono participation in middle and high school student events such as science fairs, shore tours, festivals and after-school workshops as part of SCAPE projects, expanding the model set up with by our shoreline restoration projects. We will develop an externship program in collaboration with HBCUs and/or BIPOC-majority colleges, community colleges or high schools with a specific two-week-long curriculum focused on exposure to the practice of landscape architecture and SCAPE projects, dedicating staff time to develop this program and mentor externs over time.
4. Expand SCAPE’s charitable giving to BIPOC and landscape architecture-related causes. SCAPE made financial contributions to organizations, legal funds and public artworks that focused on the Black Lives Matter movement. We will continue to expand our company’s financial donations in this space.
5. Formalize practices within SCAPE to engage community partners whose work advances issues of racial and environmental equity. SCAPE will reach out to organizations that foreground racial equity to partner on projects and initiatives, expanding the range of minority-owned businesses and BIPOC artists that SCAPE collaborates with. We will identify local groups to establish stronger longer-term relationships within ongoing projects and dig deeper in the cities and regions where we work and volunteer.
6. Evaluate and expand our community engagement practices within project to advance goals of equity and inclusivity. We will set aside staff time for internal project team reflections to support and promote equitable planning, design, and engagement across all project types, and expand in-house resources for equitable engagement techniques, including techniques that address the digital divide and engagement during COVID and specifically address racial equity. We will aim to compensate community leaders, organizations, and participants for their time in engagement sessions through a project stipend or fee. We will update our work to highlight SCAPE’s equitable engagement strategies/techniques and develop a method for a social Post-Occupancy Evaluation of SCAPE projects to study project outcomes, with a focus on effects of gentrification, displacement, public space creation, public health / social justice factors, and environmental health improvements. This will start with one long-term project in NYC and one in New Orleans, the places we call home.
7. Promote racial diversity at all levels through equitable promotions, professional growth opportunities and hiring processes. SCAPE will develop an annual internal report on office diversity for internal tracking and accountability. We will aim to recruit and retain full-time staff and interns from underrepresented minority populations from HBCUs and state schools local to where we work. We will ensure that SCAPE mentorship efforts are equitably distributed to all staff and expand the duties of our Mentorship Committee to take this on.
8. Continue to foster a culture at SCAPE that embodies our ethos of equity, inclusion and collaborative design. SCAPE will organize a Day of Action as an all-office volunteer day focused on collaborative pro-bono activity aligned with SCAPE’s social and environmental values. We will implement communication measures to be as inclusive as possible of all employees during work interactions, including formalized community agreements for meetings. We will support a broad distribution of staff networking opportunities at speaking engagements, interviews, events and relationship-building activities.
9. Develop an internal office budget for the advancement of the above actions. SCAPE’s leadership team will set aside specific support to enable the above initiatives to inform our daily practice and continue this work in the future.
10. Continue the DEI Committee and annually reevaluate the DEI Commitments to Action as an office. As a group of committed professionals, SCAPE will devote our imagination, creativity and resources to combat anti-BIPOC racism and expand BIPOC voices and power within the design professions. We will revisit and renew these commitments annually.