Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon Portland Community College

Equity in PCC’s 2021 Climate Action Planning Process 

Centering Equity

#EcoSocialJusticeEvent ~ PCC Earth Week 2019The development of this Climate Action Plan reflects PCC’s commitment to advancing diversity, equity, inclusion, and social justice across the college and within the communities it serves. To support this, the following equity and climate justice commitment goals were identified at the beginning of the planning process:

  • Acknowledge  the role environmental racism and inequitable funding of climate solutions play in today’s existing conditions for marginalized communities;
  • Prioritize historically marginalized and oppressed voices in the decision-making process;
  • Support students in having a voice in the regional discussion on climate change and resiliency;
  • Address how risks from climate change impact equitable student success;
  • Foster place-based equity; and
  • Advance racial and social justice through climate action.

The incorporation of equity and social justice within this Climate Action Plan reflects PCC’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion, which is both part of PCC’s mission and a core theme in the Strategic Plan. Equity was interwoven throughout the planning process from the first request to the proposal to the resulting goals and strategies.

Request for Proposal

From the very beginning, PCC centered equity and climate justice in the request for proposals for climate action consulting. PCC’s Request for Proposal included a requirement to take an equity-conscious and environmental justice approach throughout the process, including in stakeholder engagement and in the selection of adaptation and mitigation strategies. This includes using a PCC-developed Climate Action Equity guide. The selected firm, GreenerU, supported PCC in aligning the college’s equity goals with the process.

PCC’s Climate Action Equity Guide

PCC designed the Climate Action Equity Guide for this planning process, based on the PCC Strategic Planning Equity and Empowerment Guide and drawing from Critical Race Theory, Multnomah County’s Equity and Empowerment Lens, and the City of Portland, Oregon’s Climate Action Plan Equity Considerations. PCC uses the Take 5 Critical Race Theory (CRT) Decision Making Toolkit, including the CRT litmus test called “Take Five” which guides decision makers to pause and identify how a decision will affect or be affected by (1) centrality and intersectionality of race and racism, (2) challenge to dominant ideology, (3) commitment to social justice, (4) centrality of experiential knowledge and (5) interdisciplinary perspective.

The PCC Climate Action Equity Guide was continuously developed by the CAP Update co-leaders and applied throughout the process.  The Climate Action Equity Guide consists of a number of guiding questions that build on PCC’s Take Five process and other resources. In addition to using PCC’s Strategic Planning Equity and Empowerment Guide, the planning team drew several questions from a case study created by the City of Portland on equity in the Climate Action Plan as well as Multnomah County’s 5 P’s Guide: Purpose, Power, Place, People, and Process. The 5 Ps process was used to identify the equity impact of the focus groups’ goals and strategies, as well as to ensure an anti-racist engagement process.

Each focus area used the 5P’s process to evaluate and refine the draft outcomes of the plan to ensure that equitable outcomes were the foundation of the goals and strategies of the plan.

Equity Conscious Stakeholder Engagement

In addition to the Climate Action Equity Guide, equity tools and processes were used throughout each phase of the planning to ensure an inclusive and just process, including (1) hosting two equity trainings for the task force participants, (2) having an equity evaluator present for most meetings to identify and call out any unintended consequences, (3) utilizing consensus-based decision-making tools, such as the fist of five voting method and (4) consultations with PCCs Office of Equity and Inclusion.

PCC’s Equity & Sustainability Specialist was a member of the core planning team and co-facilitated the required equity training for all focus area members. The trainings introduced task members to new topics such as white supremacy culture and the intersections of racial and social justice with sustainability and climate action and prepared the task force to use a host of tools from PCC’s Office of Equity & Inclusion Take 5 Toolkit. These resources are a result of the college’s District Leaders of Diversity Council looking at intentional ways to make equity and Critical Race Theory part of the community’s everyday learning and work at PCC.

Two important tools from PCC’s Office of Equity and Inclusion Take 5 Toolkit are identity cards and fist of five decision-making. Identity cards served as a reminder to think about how different folks may be impacted by the decisions the core team makes in the planning process and how actions may be modified to better benefit the diverse PCC community. Throughout the planning process, the core team also used a consensus-based decision-making process, called fist of five, to ensure consensus before moving forward with a decision.

Using Equity Conscious Criteria and Values to Shape Outcomes

Based on PCC’s mission, the urgency to address climate justice and the scope of the climate action plan update, value statements were developed by the CAP Update task force. The value statements acted as anchors for each focus area group to define criteria for its strategies, ensuring they support PCC’s climate justice vision. Each focus area also created a set of criteria to apply to the goals and strategies. Using the criteria as the basis for fist of five voting, focus area group members used a set of focus area-specific standards to confirm the language and content included in the goals and strategies aligned with the CAP values and had been assessed using the 5Ps of the Climate Action Equity Guide.

PCC also aligned its focus areas’ goals and strategies with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs) and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education’s (AASHE) Sustainable Tracking, Assessment and Rating System (STARS) to ensure alignment with overall sustainability tracking and development for the GHG emissions reduction and climate justice strategies of this plan.