2020 was a bad year for everyone. Disease covered the world. Economic disturbances took many peoples’ work and businesses. Social wrongs were shown again and again.
Streets were full of ideas to address these ills though. Roads were shut to cars for use as socially distanced walking and dinning spaces. Protestors took to the streets to call for changes to institutions like the police, social services and renting.
This urban read collects some of these stories of urban challenges and ideas to address them.
Urban Spaces and Design
Urban life was defined by COVID-19 in 2020. Social norms, rules and design of urban spaces were directed at responding to the disease.
- The Death of the City (Politico)
- Remote work has already changed where we work, but the changes for urban spaces are uncertain. A question for 2021 is what needs to change in urban spaces to address this.
- What is the Future of Cities (Planet Money)
- The changes from 2020 may be hard on large cities. Places like New York City and San Francisco may need to learn from past down turns.
- The Virus Sent Droves to a Small Town. Suddenly It’s Not so Small. (New York Times)
- Urban life brings to mind large cities like New York, San Francisco and Seattle. Urban areas do not need millions of residents though.
Social Justice and the Economy
COVID-19 also directed public focus to social and economic ills. People answered by protesting and calling for changes to urban social institutions and norms.
- How a Year of Protests Changed Seattle (Seattle Times)
- Starting with the murder of George Floyd, protestors called for changes to the police, social services and the social structure of cities. In 2021, cities will have to see if the changes they made address protestor’s concerns.
- Understanding the On Going ‘Eviction Blockage’ in Portland (Oregon Public Broadcasting)
- The federal government, states and cities passed eviction bans in 2020. In response, renters and owners began questioning their relationship with landlords and banks.
- Remembering the Restaurants We’ve Lost in 2020 (New York Times)
- Many businesses had no revenue and employees had no jobs in 2020. The federal government provided aid, but it was not enough for many. This has left local communities to think about how to fill these business and employment needs.
COVID-19 required social distance between people. It also turned people’s focus to the important people in their lives.
- The Long, Slow Recovery (The Indicator)
- Government support has helped some businesses survive COVID-19 like Molly Moon’s in Seattle. Businesses are waiting to see what kind of recovery appears in 2021 though.
- Americans Put Pride Aside to Seek Aid (New York Times)
- Millions of Americans needed aid for the first time in 2020 such as food and unemployment. This put a lot of need on social support programs like food banks and changed people’s relationship with the government.
- What Happened When Henry Yao Almost Went Bust (New York Times)
- 2020 also saw many people support iconic local businesses. This story brings to mind all of the important small businesses were people gather in their communities.