We are all in this together

Dear colleagues, 

The horrific death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police reminds us once again that “We are NOT in this together.” The pandemic’s disproportionate impact on communities of color has already exposed the fallacy behind this motto. Moving forward to create healthy and connected communities in which everyone can thrive is tied to three values:

  1. Coming together–from federal, state and local governments to police, educators, health providers, businesses, faith leaders, city planners, designers, and citizen advocates.
  2. Eliminating health, income, educational, and incarceration disparities.
  3. Investing in relationship-building and dialogue.

Examples from Minneapolis below show the role the built environment can play in the process. For more stories of buildings and places see Landscapes of Agony at www.cec-design.com/covid-19

To feature stories from your city, email tasoulla@umn.edu.

Look forward to hearing your thoughts and ideas.

Tasoulla Hadjiyanni, Editor


#1 – COME TOGETHER

In the words of Greek poet Argyris Xionis,
“Step on the asphalt with respect. Underneath it there are stones dreaming of gardens.”

Flowers form a circle at the intersection of 38th and Chicago where George Floyd lost his life, transforming the street into a sacred space of healing and togetherness. Circles are a literal manifestation of equality–there is no one “at the head of the table” in a circle. This is also a term used to denote people coming together over common interests. As a physical and visual translation of the “We are all in this together” motto, George Floyd’s memorial paves the way forward.

Image credit: abcnews.go.com


#2 – ELIMINATE HEALTH, INCOME, EDUCATIONAL, AND INCARCERATION DISPARITIES

Eliminate Health, Income, Incarceration Disparities

Black barber shops are cornerstones of African American communities and places to gather and discuss news and politics. Covid-19 has already greatly impacted barbers’ ability to operate. Cutz Too Barber Shop on East Lake Street is an example of how supporting minority businesses in a city that faces some of the widest disparities can transform lives and neighborhoods. Blacks are almost twice as likely as Whites to try starting a business, but Black‐owned businesses are often less successful than White‐owned businesses.


#3 – INVEST IN RELATIONSHIP-BUILDING AND DIALOGUE 

Invest In Relationship-Building And Dialogue

Art and theater create opportunities for people from different backgrounds to come together and learn about each other’s dreams and aspirations, bringing the “I” closer to the “We”. The Heart of the Beast Theatre is a Lake Street landmark. Its annual Puppet and Mask Theater MayDay parade and festival have been vibrant examples of community building in the Twin Cities for over 45 years. The theatre also hosts many of Pangea World Theater’s productions, a forum where difficult conversations can “illuminate the human condition.”

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