The University of Oklahoma’s Institute for Quality Communities is pleased to offer a list of engaging resources and ideas that support placemaking and community building during COVID-19, whether you’re a local government employee or a neighborhood resident.
Much of the world’s population is getting familiar with the term “social distancing” and what it means for daily life and personal well-being. This public health strategy in communities goes back a long time. More than 100 years ago, Oklahoma faced the 1918 Influenza Pandemic. Just like today, the mandated closure of businesses, schools, and churches, and the restriction of public gathering of any kind, were key to Oklahoma City’s 1918 efforts to stop the spread of the pandemic.
Without a doubt, social distancing is having a big impact on communities, as highlighted in recent articles by Streetsblog. US car traffic plunged 30% in one week due to social distancing measures. With roads empty, some drivers sped up and Streetsblog recommended community-driven ways to slow them down and noted that it is more important than ever to encourage slow speeds to prevent accidents that should send people to crowded hospitals. Some cities are repurposing all that empty road space to create more public spaces for people to enjoy.
Even as people are largely confined to their homes, we are seeing ways that individuals, local city staff, and community leaders are trying to keep cities going, maintain their strong sense of community, retrofit spaces, and preserve social ties. Many people are also looking ahead, so that we can plan to navigate our way out of this crisis on the other side.
By Shane Hampton, Executive Director of the OU Institute for Quality Communities