Guest Editorial: Building Better Mouse Traps

By Recker McDowell —

We all know planning is not easy during this time of COVID-19. School districts, universities, workplaces, and small businesses are all navigating the moving targets of COVID cases and how to protect public health.

It can be a day-to-day exercise — just ask the Miami Marlins or local school districts across the country.

Still, we need to have long-range innovations and creativity beyond today’s news cycle and social media outrages. How and where we work, go to school, travel, visit, and socialize have changed and some of those changes could be more long-term or permanent.

That means our land-use, architecture, designs and basic logistics of everyday life are also changing.

The impetus is on architects, designers, planners, entrepreneurs, and policy makers to build a better mouse trap for our schools, our workplaces, and our communities. It is on each of us to come up with new ideas.

There some obvious trends arising focused on social distancing, outdoor spaces and more flexibility for workers, students, and others. We have seen some of that with cities allowing restaurants and shops to use parking lots and sidewalks more so they can abide by social distancing orders.

Those creative concepts need to become long-term design and land-use ideas to allow for social distancing that protects public health and allows the economy to reopen.  We need ideas to save jobs, help tourism and small businesses along with all the health concerns coming out of COVID.

This means thinking outside the box on all levels. This includes school districts, universities and local and regional elected officials and planners who make land-use decisions.  The old ways of thinking and planning will have to make way for some new realities and new ideas.

This means evolving some past policies including for permits, events, and designs. Entrepreneurs, small business owners, architects and designers who think outside the box and find creative solutions should be listened to and rewarded. Outdoor and flexible spaces will become key.

The same goes for elected officials and candidates. Those candidates with open, creative, and innovative minds who realize the gravity of the public health and economic situations with COVID are the ones votes should focus on at all levels of government.

We need to build better mouse traps at so many levels of life. We need to step up with vision and creativity and reward those who do.