Change, Disorder, Equality, Forward
Turning the clock back to early march, I don’t think anyone could have predicted what has happened over the past three months. Coronavirus and all of the impacts of the pandemic, continued killing of African Americans by the police and the resulting civil unrest and calls for real change, have changed our daily lives and our country in so many ways. The negative impacts of all of this have fallen disproportionately on people of color and poorer communities. Others have written, more eloquently than I am able, about these issues and what actions are needed to bring about true change and a way forward for everyone, regardless of race, skin color or economic situation. I have taken these messages to heart and am committed to looking in the mirror, assessing my values, beliefs, perceptions and actions, and then making the necessary changes to be part of a better America. This self-examination is not easy, but it is required to be able to move forward in a truly positive, productive and equitable way.
Now Black Lives Matte Plaza, Washington, DC
At the professional level, again much has been written and said about the systemic inequalities and racism in our society and how the planning and design professions have contributed to these issues. Without directly experiencing racism and prejudice, we, as white, middle- and upper-class people cannot truly understand how these burdens impact the daily lives of people of color. To gain a better understanding requires listening, and where possible trying to experience how everyday life is different for people of color, what obstacles they face, and misperceptions they encounter simply because of the color of their skin. This process will be difficult and at times disheartening, but until we as a profession commit to doing this, we will continue to be part of the problem and not part of the solution.
Finally, during these trying times it is critical to take care of our own physical and mental well-being. May was National Bike Month, #BikesUnite, and there were numerous were news articles and reports highlighting the rise in people biking across the country. Walking has seen a similar rise in popularity. These two activities are the easiest and least expensive ways to stay active, reduce stress and just help you to feel better. If you started walking and/or biking more during the pandemic, keep it up. If you haven’t, give it try. Put walking/biking on your calendar or to do list and commit to getting out for 30 minutes at least three times a week. You will be surprised at how much better you will start to feel. If you don’t feel safe doing these activities, let your elected officials know, and consider asking a local advocacy group or a professional planner for ideas and assistance to make your community better and safer for walking and biking.
Stay Strong, Stay Safe, Stay Active!!!