Giving Compass' Take:

• An article at Medium explains how coronavirus has made clear the need to invest in public spaces with equitable access for all.

• How do public spaces provide areas with renewed hope and a sense of community? How have systemic practices barred certain communities from access to public spaces? What can you do to invest in public spaces during COVID-19?

• Learn about the potential benefits of street vendors in public spaces during coronavirus recovery.

During a global pandemic when millions of people rarely leave their homes, our public parks, plazas, trails, greenways, and even sidewalks have become critical havens. The importance of a robust, connected, and nature-rich public realm — a true civic commons — is clearer than ever.

But while the pandemic has revealed the power of our shared public spaces, it has also magnified enormous disparities in quality and access to them. Demand has outstripped supply, in some cases leaving beaches and parks packed with more people than social distancing guidelines allow. Some urban leaders have responded with innovations, such as closing streets to cars and rededicating them for pedestrians and outdoor dining.

We applaud these and other efforts cities are taking to expand public spaces as the country reopens. But they don’t go nearly far enough. Decades of disinvestment have left too many neighborhoods with nowhere to safely exercise or experience nature.

The ongoing protests against racism and police brutality reflect longstanding, systematic exclusion and discrimination that is also evident in our civic infrastructure. Investing in a civic commons that connects and welcomes people of all backgrounds will help create a path to more inclusive communities. Well-designed and well-run public spaces can nurture the diverse social fabric of our cities that allows empathy and trust to flourish.

A robust civic commons should be a universal right, delivered to every neighborhood in every city. Achieving this will require dedicated attention and, yes, dedicated funding. Budgets for parks and recreation, trails, and libraries are the first to be cut when government revenues are tight, leaving in their wake a civic common inadequate to meet the demands revealed by Covid-19.

Read the full article about why we need to invest in public spaces at Medium.