This post is part seven in a monthly series called Living our Values: first-hand accounts written by Grow Pittsburgh staff members illustrating the centrality of our organizational values in guiding our daily work.

In February, we’re highlighting our value of transparency, which dictates that we are “being accountable by using clear, direct, and inclusive communication.”

Read more from Director of Director of Development and Communications, Ryan Walsh, on how he sees this value carried out in Grow Pittsburgh’s work and stay tuned in the coming months as we continue to feature how we’re #LivingOurValues:

My job at Grow Pittsburgh is to secure resources and cultivate community partnerships that are impactful, heartfelt, and focused on our mission to teach people how to grow food and promote the benefits that gardens bring to our neighborhoods. A big part of sustaining authentic relationships is transparency. This takes shape in many ways–mostly in how we communicate with you, our community.

Accountability comes in many forms, too. Just as you can visit any of our garden sites and witness the arugula and radishes rising in the spring sunshine, we want you to be able to see clearly and easily how we grow and function as an organization. We’re always working to keep our overhead rate low. In 2018, we used 81 percent of our total operating expenses for programming that directly benefits our community. Towards clear accountability, we publish our finances each year, share an annual report on impacts with you, and maintain a GuideStar Gold Seal of Transparency. Being accountable also means learning from mistakes. If we get something wrong, please reach out any time to let us know how we could be doing better.

To make our resources more accessible, we recently translated our general brochure into Spanish, with more languages to follow.

We also communicate with you directly via our social media posts, general newsletter, mailings, blog posts like this one about our organizational values, and emails to particular groups (shout out to GRC users and community gardeners!). Later this month, we’re launching a special member newsletter for all of our generous donors, volunteers, and other supporters who make this work possible so you can see the positive impacts your contributions are making throughout our region.

Whether you are growing in your own backyard, a community garden, or purchasing from an urban farm, you are an active participant in your local food system and help address issues such as food insecurity, food apartheid, environmental degradation, climate change, and limited access to land, to name a few. The challenges we face together are real and urgent, so it’s crucial that we communicate them clearly and directly, so you know exactly how you can help.

We also need to share the success stories and victories with you as we make progress together. Our aim is lift people up through growing food, and we can’t do this without a strong, diverse network of dedicated people. Inclusivity is necessary. That’s why we do things like translate our program brochure into Spanish (and we’re working on more languages). We have clarified processes around hiring and posting salary ranges for open jobs, made it clearer how we choose schools and community gardens to work with, and how we decide to award our Sustainability Fund materials to community garden groups. We also want to make sure our communications are accessible for all. Facebook isn’t for everyone. Neither is email. If you’d prefer to hear from us in another way (like your trusty mailbox or face to face at our events!), let us know. We’re always thinking about how to best be in touch with you, our Grow Pittsburgh community. Thank you for growing with us.

Does this value resonate with you? Share this post on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram, tag @growpittsburgh and #LivingOurValues and let us know what transparency means to you!