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LISC—Local Initiatives Support Corporation—works with communities across the country to transform places and change people’s lives. At LISC San Antonio, we collaborate with residents and partners to develop skills, invest in neighborhoods and drive policy changes that foster shared prosperity.

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5.27.2020 -

Our New Normal

Seven o’clock on a Friday evening. A police cruiser crept up the street, lights flashing. Close behind—a battered jeep, festooned with streamers, with an inflatable T-Rex in the back seat, waving its tiny arms and cheering. From another slow moving car, also decked out with signs and ribbons, a couple of my neighbors were throwing seasonally appropriate neon blue and green popsicles (while I think it was snowing elsewhere in the US, mid-May in South Texas is definitely already summer). I certainly won’t miss sheltering in place when—or if—our lives return to pre-COVID normal. Sitting on a neighbor’s porch is better than waving from the street, even if I get a popsicle in the bargain. But I hope we can keep the spirit of community, kindness and creativity many of us have shown during the past three months. An impromptu street parade, while it certainly lifted spirits and delighted dozens of kids, may seem to be a little thing. But it was animated by the same ideas that are right now bringing about major re-examinations of public policy and practice across the country and, indeed, around the world. How can we reduce loneliness and isolation? How do we interact outdoors in safe and healthy ways? What does it mean to be essential—and how should we show our gratitude? What can we do as individuals, and what do we rely on government to do? How can we prioritize wellness for all? Our answers to these questions range from significant movement on broad-based social justice campaigns, which have for years called to reduce jail and prison populations and provide everyone with a home, to companies raising wages for clerks and baggers, to teenagers dropping off groceries for elders on their block. Weseem to have a new understanding that each of us is part of a larger whole, an appreciation that at basic economic, social and biological levels we are, in fact, linked together in ecosystems. When one suffers, it impacts us all. In San Antonio, our City government is closing streets to vehicle traffic so that families and children can get out and exercise or just play. Thanks to partnerships between local agencies, a vacant hotel is filling up with those who had been experiencing homelessness, and medical and other care is available on site. Laid-offworkers are finding new employment filling and delivering food boxes and other essentials. Rules on urban agriculture are being re-examined, while people who might be ill are able to access free diagnostic testing and urged to stay at home. What a change from a time when sick leave didn’t seem necessary—and, in fact, was characterized as a threat to our economic growth. Let’s commit ourselves to preserving this momentum. The weight of these changes—some large, some small, some enacted through ordinance and others within our own hearts—can propel us forward, particularly if we preserve and nurture the partnerships and expanded definition of community we’ve developed in the past few months to respond to this deadly and devastating virus. To paraphrase our City’s new slogan of “Greater. SAfer. Together”—as we look toward recovery, we are not just safer together; together we are greater.