This is a pivotal moment. Our future will be shaped by our response to multiple global catastrophic occurrences: a coronavirus pandemic, ongoing structural racism and injustice, economic disruption coupled with increased income inequality, and the severe environmental consequences of climate change. These events are amplifying each other and forcing us to break with the past, adapt, and be flexible. Because of the urgency of responding to multiple crises, we are forced to think about many issues simultaneously. By reimagining the public realm at this critical time, we can seek ways to contribute towards societal transformation to make our cities better both now and in the future.
This publication started as the second part of a blog post series and quickly grew into a larger article. Day by day our world changed around me as this article was being written and challenged me to expand my thinking and response.
When I started writing my first post, the pandemic was in its early stages. Soon afterwards there was civil unrest due to mass protests against structural racism. Then the skies turned orange as wildfires caused by climate change engulfed the West Coast of the United States. I kept writing and pulling in more of my San Francisco colleagues for their insight, as events changed in real time around me. The resulting article has had to morph and adjust to a rapidly changing landscape and keep expanding its circle of review and input.
This publication is not intended to offer comprehensive solutions. It is a contribution to the larger, critical conversation that needs to take place in all of our communities, with a growing level of commitment and an ever-widening range of inclusive engagement. I hope it sparks the imagination and stimulates further ideas.