Lately I have been asking myself some big questions:
Are we looking at the single greatest event of wealth and power redistribution in U.S. history?
Will the pandemic expand the gap between the wealthy and the once-middle class?
Will workers who have lost jobs due to the pandemic find a way back to employment?
How will the challenges and opportunities presented by the pandemic be engaged to create increased resilience to future economic shocks in U.S. communities?
As we look at the needs of communities throughout Texas and their struggles with urgent pressing problems, we see community mindset as a key component, either facilitating or restricting local response to the challenges and opportunities facing our nation. Fixed and competitive mindsets often produce zero sum gain outcomes for communities and their residents. Communities are asking if their citizens can get behind a type of growth that does not maintain fractures and divides, restrict collaboration, or limit future thinking.
I am finding Kate Raworth’s theories about the “doughnut economy” a useful perspective for thinking about a mutualistic and sustainable society. The inner ring of this doughnut includes the minimum every community needs: food, water, energy, healthcare, and so forth. The doughnut hole represents the lack of necessities for a reasonable life. The outer layer of the doughnut represents the broader sustainability of the economy and environment that we desire to attain. Amsterdam and various EU cities are embracing this model to help plan post-coronavirus recovery. The pandemic has provided these cities opportunity to see the future with a new lens and engage advanced strategies to improve the lives and opportunities for all residents. Whether or not this can be applied here in the U.S. remains to be seen. But we may learn something important from this experiment.
I feel blessed as a UT employee, to have a job and a paycheck, but even more, I am fortunate to be in a position to view the impacts of the pandemic from this bumpy road we are traveling, and to try to add value to the heartfelt discussions going on in America’s towns.
Greg Pogue is the lead instructor for the IC² Regional XLR8 program.