What is the future of our shared civic places as we cope with and emerge from COVID?

Joining CUI host Mary Rowe our session “What is the future of our shared civic places as we cope with and emerge from COVID?” are Graham Singh, Executive Director of Trinity Centres Foundation; Carol Coletta, President and CEO of Memphis River Parks Partnership; Natalie Voland, President and Chief Vision Officer of GI Quo Vadis Inc.; and Tim Jones, CEO of Artscape.

5 Key

A roundup of the most compelling ideas, themes and quotes from this candid conversation

1. Civic spaces are more important now than ever before

According to Carole Coletta, during COVID-19, there has been an intensification of new uses for civic spaces—transitioning indoor activities to outdoor spaces, and from private to public uses. People are experiencing the importance of the civic commons for experiencing life’s simplest pleasures and fulfilling the need to be among other people.

2. Many civic spaces need to be ‘triaged’ to survive the pandemic

Many civic spaces are at risk of closing permanently—music venues, co-working spaces, arts and culture facilities, and more. Tim Jones makes the point that we need strategies to salvage these venues and help them survive into the future.

3. Municipal finance tools can be leveraged for change

Municipal finance is an important tool for change. Graham Singh discusses the planning and policy tools that can incentivize more investments in the civic commons: zoning and property taxation, adjustments and development benefits for meanwhile and transient uses, and more.

4. Make it profitable to do good for the community

Natalie Voland proposes that we need to change the business model—to make it profitable to do good for the community. Real estate tends to be worth more when it is developed near civic spaces such as the parks and schools. We need to get better at showing the return on investment for caring about the future of our shared commons.

5. We need to make the case for the place

Carole proposes that moving forward, we need to get better at making the political case for funding our civic assets: at all three levels of government, and across the country. No one profession can lead this—we’re all in it together.


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