Pandemics and urban planning: COVID-19 illuminates why urban planners should have listened to community advocates all along

This event will take place online.

Nearly 40,000 local, regional, and metropolitan (LRM) governments in the United States are charged with providing services that make counties, cities, towns, and villages inhabitable. LRM governments provide a host of services ranging from roads, sewers, to waste management, etc. Concern for a community’s food infrastructure was not, and is not part of LRM services and/or plans. A 2014 national survey of members of the American Planning Association (APA) who worked for local governments reported that only 1% of their local governments view food systems as a priority. In other words, food is not viewed as a public concern by LRM governments. Yet, in the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic, food-related work was redefined as ‘essential’ and workers up and down the food supply chain were heralded as ‘frontline’ workers. LRM governments discovered what community advocates had been clamoring for decades: food is essential to communities’ wellbeing. Drawing on a case example of Buffalo, NY, this presentation will describe the ways in which a civic coalition responded to food-related challenges in the wake of COVID 19. Civic coalitions’ pre-existing relationships, flexibility, and embeddedness within neighborhoods allowed for an equitable and rapid response and has set the stage for a potentially more resilient recovery.

Registration is required. Registration link here.