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How Cities and Communities Can Rebound From the Pandemic

An interview with Michael Berkowitz, former executive director of 100 Resilient Cities, finds a path to the light at the end of the tunnel.
March 31, 2020, 12pm PDT | James Brasuell | @CasualBrasuell
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Michael Berkowitz, former executive director of the nonprofit consultancy 100 Resilient Cities, speaks with Laura Bliss at CityLab for ideas about "how communities will survive the aftermath, as well as for opportunities to strengthen resilience now in the face of social and economic disruption."

According to Berkowitz, cities should be "linking various objectives together" to ensure that specific interventions strengthen the city across multiple areas. That's a key for all forms of resilience, according to Berkowitz, not just the kind of resilience necessary in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. For examples of the kind of governance he recommends, Berkowitz includes New York state, now the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States, where state and regional policies have driven the response, while mayors, like New York Mayor Bill de Blasio have taken the back seat.

Berkowitz also takes a position in the debate about the benefits and risks of density in a time of pandemic, as has been frequently discussed in the media in recent weeks, and says that, eventually, when cities reopen, density will benefit a recovery. In Berkowitz's words:

And when that next phase hits, that’s when we’ll see benefits of urban resilience — of neighbors checking in on each other, strong neighborhood institutions, diverse economies, good governance. Those things will pay off in ways that will let us rebound from this situation and hopefully let us build stronger communities.

The interview continues to touch on current opportunities to prepare for the recovery, including opportunities at the hyper-local level.

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Published on Monday, March 23, 2020 in CityLab
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