Among unwelcome lessons of COVID-19 is growing evidence of what was already broken in politics and business. Ben Brown looks at making bold changes in order to improve the lives of the left out and left behind.

2 minute read

May 10, 2020, 9:00 AM PDT

By Hazel Borys


Stay-at-Home Orders

Bjorn Bakstad / Shutterstock

"This is the first of several posts planned for the next few weeks on lessons we’re learning from the pandemic and how local and regional governments might respond – not only to the crisis itself, but also to weaknesses in policies and processes COVID-19 exposed.

"Let’s start with an understatement: Community development leaders – whether they’re in government, non-profits, or the private sector — are likely to remember this time as the most challenging of their lives. Every hard choice is harder, every strategy fraught with uncertainty.

"At the moment, we’re upping the anxiety and the stakes for decision-making as governors in a majority of states bow to pressure to lift stay-at-home restrictions that were intended to slow the spread of COVID-19. Ahead is a series of uncoordinated experiments that will produce as-yet-unknown outcomes everywhere. Officials are betting lives and economies on assumptions that are at once wishful thinking and probably inevitable. We can’t expect people to hide in their homes forever.

"Response to the pandemic is a global challenge. But impacts are felt most quickly and most dramatically in local and regional jurisdictions where people live and work and where Americans tell pollsters they have the most faith in government. It’s also where the resources for responding to the crisis are most threatened."

Brown discusses the leaky pipes of both physical infrastructure and policy, and how doing the biggest little thing may help us deal with the uncomfortable realities and the barriers that must be overcome. 

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