We are all weathering the same storm, but in different boats

The following is a message from Smart Growth America President & CEO Calvin Gladney about #GivingTuesdayNow. 

This is an unprecedented time we are all living through. There’s so much difficulty and uncertainty—for all of us, no matter our particular circumstance.

First, we are thankful for the scores of nonprofits and other benevolent organizations working so hard to meet the immediate needs of those suffering because of the pandemic. We’re grateful to those of you who have generously given to them.

Although Giving Tuesday usually happens near Thanksgiving, today has been designated as a special #GivingTuesdayNow because of COVID-19. We urge you to continue supporting important local charities and relief efforts in your community. And for those of you who can, we ask you to consider also supporting our work, which we believe is truly more relevant and urgent than ever.

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Weathering the same storm, but in different boats.

The same structural inequities producing more air pollution, unsafe streets, a lack of transportation options, and worse access to fresh food in African American and other communities of color, are also contributing to the underlying health conditions that make death from COVID-19 far more likely in those communities.

As a native New Yorker from Coney Island, it’s hard to watch the effects of the pandemic hit my old neighborhood harder than other richer, whiter neighborhoods. These disproportionate effects are no coincidence, and they are not just a function of comorbidities, but also the result of built environment decisions made inequitably long ago. We saw a map from San Francisco where one could literally guess where the interstates were built in the 1960s by looking for the highest COVID-19 fatality rates today.

These are exactly the kinds of disparities that Smart Growth America is committed to improving as we work to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to live in places that are healthy, prosperous, and resilient. How will our country’s land use, transportation, and development change in the COVID-19 era? With your support, SGA will help drive that conversation.

It’s a difficult time, but we’ve continued to find ways to do important work that’s making a difference:

Funding for public transit in the CARES Act.

As Congress started deliberations on what would become the CARES Act, there were zero dollars included for public transit, which would have been an unmitigated disaster for cities and towns of all sizes. Thanks in part to our potent advocacy, the CARES Act included $25 billion for public transit to ensure that it can continue safely moving essential workers each day, and be there to fuel the recovery when everyone else heads back to work. And we’re continuing to keep up that drumbeat, because more will be needed.

Chronicling best practices for opening streets.

Our National Complete Streets Coalition quickly leapt into action, chronicling how cities are responding to the pandemic by opening streets to people and changing other policies. They also quickly pulled together city leaders and advocates to discuss how cities can and should respond.

Sharing lessons learned from 2009 stimulus spending.

After being approached by some members of Congress who were eager for recommendations, we quickly produced intelligent, data-based recommendations to help stabilize the economy and get our country back on track, and chronicled the lessons we learned from investing in infrastructure in the 2009 stimulus act.

See these resources and more that we’ve produced related to smart growth and the pandemic at www.smartgrowthamerica.org/covid-19.


Our goal is to continue to give you a voice at the national level on the issues and decisions that affect you locally. I pledge to you that we will continue our fight for healthier, more equitable and more resilient communities, and I thank you for your support.

Be well and stay safe.