From the Chair

March 14, 2020

During this uncertain time, community is more important than ever. the Congress for the New Urbanism is all about building communities where people can interact--even if virtually. For now, CNU Florida and our regional groups are suspending programming—except for online streaming—until after the COVID-19 emergency has passed. We need to brace ourselves for an invisible threat in our cities, suburbs, and towns that could last for months, not weeks. (China’s new infection rate is declining after 3 months, according to the Associated Press).

We have never seen anything like this in our lifetime—mandated and voluntary restaurant, bar and coffeehouse closures, travel restrictions, sports cancellations, and colleges sending students home. The intertwined economic ripples are hitting the economy hard, especially small businesses. These are the businesses that often incubate in New Urban and traditional urban communities. In order to support them and their employees, consider purchasing take-out and delivery meals, or ordering their merchandise online.

Non-profits, like the CNU, which rely on galas and conferences for their annual operating revenues, will also need your support. If the CNU transforms the national Congress in St. Paul-Minneapolis in June into an online experience, please participate and do what you can to help the organization financially.

CNU is about creating places that inspire the human spirit and create a real sense of community. CNU members planned, engineered, and constructed the towns, neighborhoods, and streets where we form strong bonds with, help, and care for others. The paradox of COVID-19 is that, in a pandemic, we help others by avoiding them. Avoid unnecessary travel. Practice “social distancing.” We do not know who is and is not infected, but we do know that the infection rate is doubling about every three days. Avoidance is the only way to “flatten the curve” of viral infection to a point where we do not overwhelm our hospitals, physicians, and healthcare workers.

The last historical precedent, the Spanish Flu epidemic, rampaged through American cities in 1918, according to an article in Popular Science. Attendance at a parade in Philadelphia spread the epidemic, resulting in 12,000 deaths, compared to St. Louis, whose mandatory business, government, and church closures held deaths to 1,703. Let's learn from the example set by St. Louis to help protect the vulnerable in our communities.

Please do everything you can to keep yourselves and your loved ones healthy and safe. When this passes, we will look to all of you to help CNU Florida resume its vital mission.

Sincerely yours, Rick Geller, CNU Florida Chair