Pittsfield Gray to Green

Increasing health equity by prioritizing green planning in social and racial justice contexts


Gray to Green is an environmental and climate focused initiative driven by an inclusive community process that centers the vision and experience of residents of the Morningside and West Side Neighborhoods in Pittsfield, Massachusetts. Our core value is to work towards environmental justice and increase green planning and project implementation through the lenses of racial and social justice, because climate and environmental justice are racial justice. Over time, our initiative hopes to increase access to green space, improve quality of green space, and improve quality of life and life expectancy for the residents of the Morningside and Westside.

Major initiatives of this project are conducting an environmental scan to understand what data has already been collected, what analyses have been done, and what plans already exist that affect the neighborhoods, forming a representative and robust Working Group made up of planners, residents, City officials, and Community Organizations, the development of the Community Academy through Berkshires Habitat for Humanity, conduct video and photo based neighborhood audits, and to formulate specific policy recommendations and specific projects to prioritize to improve and “green” the built environment.

Gray to Green is a 5-year planning program funded by the Department of Public Health, with Berkshire Regional Planning Commission as the fiscal host of this project. Our major funded partners on this project are Berkshire Habitat for Humanity and 18 Degrees.

Pittsfield Aims to Make Lower-Income Neighborhoods Greener

PITTSFIELD — Two city neighborhoods will be going from “Grey to Green” as part of a project to engage the community and prioritize green planning in a social and racial justice context.

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.

Pittsfield Francis Ave Parklet and Routing Study

BRPC has partnered with the City of Pittsfield, Pittsfield Housing Authority, Central Berkshires Habitat for Humanity, and the Westside Community to create a climate resilient community parklet at the top of Francis Ave near the stairwell to West Street. The Francis Ave. parklet grew out of BRPC’s Gray to Green initiative and resident feedback from 2020 about the path from Francis Ave. down the stairwell to the nearest grocery store on West Street. As part of the parklet the project will address persistent flooding at the top of the stairwell through stormwater infiltration designs. A safe walking routes study will explore changes to street and route design from Westside Community to the West Street corridor of resources including Big Y grocery store, pharmacies, and Greylock Bank.

Jaymie R. Zapata

Supports community and equity-based projects, including Gray to Green in Pittsfield, Community Health Improvement Plan, Rural Health Equity Project, NEATC Hepatitis C work, and emergency preparedness projects.