If they needed any validation of what they do, and why they do it, an audience of DCNR workers got their reinforcement in spades. Or, more accurately, in one presented case history after another, all focusing on cities now running cleaner and greener.
And, drawing new residents of all ages. New talent. And new business interests, scaling up from corner, special interest stores to corporate industrial parks.
The ingredients always were there, they just had to be rediscovered and improved to be appreciated, said a guest speaker who had seen the changes.
Former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy joins DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn (photo) at a workshop focusing on new and extensive department initiatives under way.
“The quality of life—that’s what now is drawing people,” said former Pittsburgh Mayor Tom Murphy. “We have senior citizens who are more active, looking for places where they can relive their lives. They’re saying they want to live near walkable places.”
And the young: “Who would imagine? Now kids want to live in the city rather than suburbs.”
Give them clean and accessible waterways, green parks and walkways. And plenty of trails to get around, and they will come, Murphy said, in essence. And with the newcomers comes a new draw, encouraging businesses to follow.
“Talent is the driver,” Murphy said “Jobs follow talent.”
Serving as Pittsburgh’s mayor from 1994 to 2006, Murphy told DCNR workers he faced a very tough task: “There was no place that was more broke than Pittsburgh when I became mayor. It is a remarkable story.”
Tough decisions and battles over waterway access, water and air pollution, and open space all helped move his Steel City into the limelight as one of the nation’s most desirable place to live. Pick a state and your likely to find a similar city’s success tale, he said.
“There is story after story,” told his listeners, more than 130 DCNR employees representing all fields of expertise. “You are part of that, all working toward what makes a great place to live.”
Whether their specialty was forests or grants, geology or parks and recreation, it makes no difference, Murphy told the group gathered February 23 at the state Farm Show Building: “We are watching the world change and you all are at the center of that.”
“Together, you all are helping to build a cathedral. No matter what you do in your day-to-day positions, you all are building a cathedral.”
The former mayor and state representative was invited to kick off a day-long DCNR workshop, designed to focus the department beyond its core principles of partnership, stewardship, and service.
New emphasis is being placed on expanding work with communities, organizations and state agencies, and relying on parks, forests, rivers and trails to attract community revitalization and economic development efforts.
Given the environmental, social and conservation challenges Pennsylvania faces, DCNR has created six strategic initiatives that grow from and build on the core work department staff perform every day.
Six focused initiatives, on what has been labeled the “Legacy Tree,” form branches for Recreation, Climate, Water, Green, Youth and Forest.
“Where do we go from here,” DCNR Secretary Cindy Adams Dunn asked workshop participants at the outset of the session. “This is where you come in. We need your wisdom, your experience and your know-how to make this effort work.”
And, at its closing:
“There is no other conservation group that is going to tackle all these issues in the future. We all are in it together. We are building that very special cathedral that Mayor Murphy talked about.”
For more information on how you can become a Tree Tender in your community, visit the Treevitalize, PA Horticultural Society Tree Tender and the Tree Pittsburgh webpages.(Reprinted from the March 2 Resource newsletter newsletter from DCNR. Click Here to sign up for your own copy (bottom of the page).