Our Commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

family park nature

Scenic America affirms its commitment to preserving and enhancing scenic beauty, and to creating a scenic America for all people and all communities. To fulfill this purpose, we commit to promoting Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion through our work. We will strive to reflect the values of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in our governance, our administration, our partnerships, and our strategic operations and programs. Scenic America will work to ensure that all Americans can enjoy equitable access to, and conservation of, scenic beauty, and to ensure that all Americans are recognized as stakeholders and participants in scenic conservation decision-making processes.

We believe that all Americans deserve to enjoy scenic beauty in the places they live, work, and travel, regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, disability, age, gender identity, or sexual orientation. The scenic conservation outcomes we seek to achieve are guided by this belief. Our advocacy and program efforts regarding scenic byways, outdoor advertising control, parks and open spaces, and utilities undergrounding and infrastructure upgrades all present key opportunities to promote Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

sitting bull monument
Sitting Bull Monument, www.travelsouthdakota.com

Because scenic byways designation has a positive influence on a broad area around a roadway, it can be a powerful tool to advance the goals of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion. Scenic byways highlight the historical and cultural contributions of diverse communities across America, they recognize and protect the scenic value of underserved and historically excluded communities, and they offer economic growth opportunities to marginalized peoples and regions, including rural communities which lack other economic development opportunities.

At the same time, we recognize that marginalized and disenfranchised Americans have historically suffered from blight caused by billboards. At-risk neighborhoods, communities, and rural areas have often lacked resources to fight billboard proliferation, and these places have been hit hardest by billboard visual pollution, which has harmed property and reduced economic growth and economic opportunity in these places. As digital billboards proliferate, these communities will suffer further scenic degradation, light pollution, and traffic safety problems. By opposing billboards and digital billboards, and by making opposition tools and information available to more people, we can empower Americans to mitigate decades of harm that has affected underserved and underrepresented communities.

Protection and promotion of parks and open spaces will also allow more Americans to have access to our country’s most scenic places. Scenic America will help bring scenic beauty to disenfranchised people by promoting parks and green spaces in underserved neighborhoods, and by supporting placemaking improvements that protect and enhance the character of these neighborhoods. Walkable access to parks and other scenic places can help improve public health outcomes among lower-income Americans. We will also protect national parks and other key ecological assets and ensure that marginalized groups have safe and equitable access to them. These great parks are part of our shared heritage, and our education and outreach will help all Americans can enjoy the parks and appreciate their scenic beauty.

Watkins Regional Park, Prince George’s County, MD

Infrastructure planning decisions have created a pattern of blight for many communities of color or underprivileged neighborhoods, and overhead wires are a common sight in these places. Undergrounding projects have often been a privilege of wealthier communities, and Americans who can afford wire-free neighborhoods will tend to favor these places. Scenic America can promote undergrounding through our advocacy for government support, and through our work to improve technical knowledge and technical standards for underground projects. These projects will help improve public safety while also improving the reliability of utilities, which promotes economic growth in communities that need it most.

America’s patterns of discrimination and inequity caused by many harmful aspects of our history and of our society have in too many instances been compounded by the degradation of communities caused by scenic blight. From our perspective, the added burdens attributable to scenic blight should be untenable for all Americans. The promotion of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion is a mission-critical imperative for all of our work. Scenic America believes that every American is entitled to a community and landscape that is biologically sound, socially just, and spiritually rewarding. These values will guide the strategies and policies advocated by our organization.