Maintaining Park City's environment is important. This is more than just an environmental screed: Each year, the city draws in more than 600,000 to its slopes and trails, and at any given moment, the tourist population outnumbers the local population. Tourism generates almost $570 million for the local economy, or about one-third of employment for the entire county. It has a reputation to uphold; after all, Park City is home to the United States Ski Team.
As a newly minted organization that launched in 2007, Park City Foundation wanted to establish its presence in the community. Greenhouse gas was an emerging issue for the city, the resorts and the community. Through Knight’s 2008 Community Information Challenge, PCF found its toe hold: Ten months after receiving a matching grant from Knight, PCF and its partners launched ParkCityGreen.org, encouraging the community to “Save Our Snow.”
“It was incredibly tremendous in raising our profile. There's no doubt in my mind that it put us on the map. It gave the chance for a lot of different people to work with us and get to know us and build those relationships that are especially important in such a small town,” said Katie Wright, PCF’s programs manager.
PCF drummed up awareness around Park City Green. As a city that is 7,000 feet above sea level, PCF engaged kids and their families prior to launch by lining them up along the mountain—moving higher and higher—to visualize the receding snowline. The site launched in September 2009 at a community open house, and PCF continued to coordinate partners in putting together a speaker series and community workshops.
On its face, ParkCityGreen.org offers residents a calculator to figure out their carbon footprint. It is uniquely calibrated to Park City.
“It’s really specific to where we live, which is important because Utah as a state has a very high percentage of coal, so basically from the moment that I plug something in versus you, my footprint is so much bigger because our energy is so much dirtier here,” Wright said.
But the calculator acts as a hook for deeper content—actionable tips for residents to influence the size of their carbon footprints.
Although PCF has turned over the site to the city, the Park City Green and Save Our Snow brand lives on. A video contest calling for environmental videos from the community boosted site traffic in fall 2010; partnerships with the radio station and daily paper reminded audiences weekly of the “My Sustainable Year" challenge to add one more green practice each week; and a Low Carbon Diet workbook was produced, with monthly coffee roundtables for participants to share their progress.
The foundation, meanwhile, has become a real player in Park City. Since 2010, it has published an annual community indicators report with Park City Record. It now manages one of the resort’s grant making programs.
Of the City, Wright said, “They are working on a 2030 strategic plan, and I was brought in as the only [person] outside of city staff to help craft that plan and choose indicators … so really, those relationships built have blossomed outside of environment—included in it—but even bigger picture community concerns.”
The KCIC-funded initiative provided educational tools on environmental impact, but Wright views the grant’s influence as something bigger.
"It influenced our reputation as really wanting to come to the table and be a true partner,” Wright said. “More than anything, I think, probably what people associate us with is being that place to go when you have something big and you need lots of people around the table—it's not one person or institution's issue, it's all of ours—then it comes to us. We at least hope for that, and I think it's true.”