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Recap: Public and the Pandemic (A Victor Stanley Lunchtime Talk)

A couple weeks ago Gina + Brie posed the question… Will this pandemic help us all create more purposeful, positive change? As part of the Victor Stanley Lecture Series they were joined by 350 attendees who shared how they are adapting and how they’re seeing our cities adapt.

Brie and Gina shared their lessons learned about adaptation from a past project, Rebuild by Design in New Jersey, and current project, MeckPlaybook Park & Recreation Master Plan. We heard how the Agency team is adapting to remote work while designing plans for The Bay Park in Sarasota. We heard about two projects, The White River Vision Plan and the Franklin Park Action Plan, that exemplified the need to plan for the collective good. Lastly, we’ve learned that success will look different on each project and at different times; from the Chicago Riverwalk to the Lawn on D to Moore Square, we heard about challenges and shifts that are happening throughout public space today.

We’ve transformed our living spaces, our work spaces, and our ways of working. Throughout the talk, we conducted some polls and posed questions via chat. We heard that people are experiencing less daily stress today than when the Pandemic began –  24% of attendees expressed feelings of “Distress” four months ago, whereas 29% are feeling “No Pain” today. We’re still in a pandemic — we’ve just learned that we are flexible. Most (88% of) attendees shared that they are working remotely, while some attendees shared that they sold their offices and will remain a remote workplace into the future, and others shared that they have been remote since before the pandemic.

We learned how our country has responded to disaster in the past through investment in public space (from the Cholera outbreak, the 1918 Influenza Pandemic, The Great Depression, and the Great Recession), and are now observing a similar trend. Almost all attendees are observing changes to public space, through shared streets, intensive public use and rapid transformation of spaces. 28% of attendees shared that they were most surprised by the intensive use of public space. We are seeing that the success of public space has to be redefined to focus on safety and health.

Attendees responded with optimism and enthusiasm about how our public spaces will continue to adapt and negotiate the layered challenges they face in this moment, giving hope that the pandemic can create purposeful, positive change.

Check out the video and receive LA CES credit!

Image credits:
(left): Photograph by Christophe Ena / AP / Shutterstock
(right): StoDistanate by Caret Studio