It’s been some time since my last post. The world has dramatically changed as the COVID pandemic spreads, with significant impacts and implications on the world and our lives. This continues daily!
While the COVID-19 has yet to peak in the US, we will move on from this and already needed discussions and perspectives about what comes next for our communities and their recovery have started.
I am then inspired and motivated to re-engage and contribute, sharing information and perspectives. This is the first of a series of posts about how the COVID has and will impact our “Places” and communities.
Here is a March 23rd post-CityLab What a Coronavirus Recovery Could Look Like. It is an interview with Michael Berkowitz, the former executive director of the nonprofit consultancy 100 Resilient Cities, and now founding principal at the Resilient Cities Catalyst. He has worked with dozens of local governments around the world to plan for hurricanes, droughts, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, mass shootings, disease outbreaks, and other social shocks.
Berkowitz begins with “urban resilience – “the ability of a city to survive and thrive in the face of any disaster”, including the following elements:
- ” Good infrastructure that promotes mobility and sustainable transportation”
- “Cohesive communities where neighbors check in on neighbors”
- “A diverse economy with a strong middle-class jobs base
- “Good governance with multiple stakeholders at a decision-making table
Many communities, not only urban, have resilience. We see this every day now across the country, building on a tradition of moving forward.
My rural/suburban community certainly has resilience after a 2005 tornado (EF3) destroyed our downtown. The town and community worked together to rebuild, not just the physical and built environment, but also the community’s spirit and engagement processes. This continues today.
To then build resilience for the future, “the trick is linking different goals together i.e. – when thinking about governance and community engagement, how do you build trust and confidence in elected officials so that in crisis situations people listen to and follow the advice of elected leaders?” This is needed now more than ever.
Berkowitz adds that a job stimulus package (not passed when interviewed and now a possible infrastructure package) offers an “incredible opportunity to build more resilient infrastructure and to engage communities as we do it.” This should not be the same old tired formula of building highways, airports or “just put things back like they were and not make them better, but about economic development, public health, biodiversity and flood control.”
“We’re going to get a whole new generation of infrastructure because of this pandemic, and we have to do it better than last generation.”
Out of this upheaval, there is a great opportunity to transform our communities, processes, systems, and economies exposed by the pandemic – the fragile public health system, transportation alternatives other than driving, our connectivity systems, diversifying our economy and repurposing industries and buildings.
He concludes by asking us to think and act holistically about how to rebuild. The real question is “Will we have the strategic gumption to make things better?
I hope we do!
Look for more related content as we move through this crisis.