A collaboration between the Urban Design Forum and Van Alen Institute, Neighborhoods Now connects New York City neighborhoods hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic with firms in our collective network.
By building interdisciplinary partnerships, Neighborhoods Now has supported local organizations leading their communities’ recovery. Nearly two years later, what began as a responsive six-week sprint developed into a platform for enduring partnerships and collective activism.
Through Neighborhoods Now: Forward, we’re continuing this work in 2022, transitioning from rapid, tactical responses to long-term recovery strategies on a wider scale. Led by community organizations, seven interdisciplinary teams will enliven and program public space, provide technical support to small businesses, and strengthen cultural activities.
Neighborhoods Now: Forward is made possible through a grant from Wells Fargo’s Open for Business Fund. With yearlong funding in place, each team is developing projects to build long-term resiliency in neighborhood economies. To strengthen learning across communities, teams will convene throughout the year to exchange their experiences and build connections.
We compiled our work into a set of design recommendations and prototypes to address immediate and long-term needs during the pandemic. This included COVID-19 awareness campaigns, open air dining, and outdoor education and cultural programming.
We invite interdisciplinary experts to join the Neighborhoods Now initiative in support of our working groups. Our experts range from firms and individuals working in public health and law to environmental graphics and small business lending.
The results of our work in 2020-21 were a set of design recommendations and prototypes addressing immediate needs for COVID-19 awareness campaigns, open air dining, and outdoor education and cultural programming. Several prototypes have now been implemented, and Van Alen Institute and the Urban Design Forum are supporting additional implementation through 2022. Neighborhoods’ needs also went beyond design and physical interventions. Working groups organized financial workshops for small businesses, drafted legal templates, and collaborated with senior staff at City agencies to help neighborhoods navigate programs like Open Streets and Open Restaurants.
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