Jane's Jottings - a Chair's Update
by Jane Leonard

Out of COVID-19: More Equitable & Shared Growth - A More Just Society
by Jane Leonard, CDS Board Chair 2019-2020


I n this month’s Vanguard edition, our editor, Lisa Gilchrist, highlights “inequ ity” – in particular how the COVID-19 pandemic is clearly and deeply exposing inequalities in economic and social systems across the world and closer to home for each of us. Thank you, Lisa, for providing insights, news links, and resources on this evolving dynamic we all share.

The inequity reality commands my attention, having worked for the last two years with a diverse network of Minnesotans and organizations to research and create Minnesota Equity Blueprint - Thriving By Design - Rural & Urban Together - a 170-page compendium of 141 recommendations that chronicle regional and community best practices and inspiring efforts to build a more equitable and inclusive Minnesota (it’s available for a free download at  https://growthandjustice.org/publication/Blueprint-online-F.pdf  if you’d like some decent reading material in our Stay-At-Home times). We started the effort well before COVID-19 knowing that hidden behind the façade of extraordinary economic growth here in the United States and in my home state are great disparities by region, race, and economic class.

Inequities get (and deserve) even harsher spotlight as numerous articles in state and national media have documented the pandemic’s devastating impact on already fragile low-wage workers who are losing both their jobs and private health-care coverage.  Here in the U.S. impacts are acute also on working women and mothers, on hard-working immigrant communities, on the homeless and on low-income seniors, and on the estimated one-third of American households that even before the outbreak were employed but just one paycheck away from economic calamity.

A New York Times special commentary on April 10,  “America Will Struggle After Coronavirus. These Charts Show Why”,  reviewed the underlying basic facts and trends of four decades of growing economic and racial inequality. Their series on  “The America We Need”  describes how we can emerge from this crisis stronger, fairer and more free.
In Minnesota, many of our most underpaid and economically insecure are emerging as the front-line heroes and most essential workers in the coronavirus fight. They are grocery store employees, child-care providers, service workers and delivery people, personal care attendants and nursing home employees, and more.  This extraordinary crisis exposes the severe imbalance and inequities in their compensation as opposed to people in the top half of the income hierarchy.

COVID can be our crucible of long-term change for the better, if we choose. We can build out of this travail an improved socioeconomic contract with one another, for more inclusive and equitable growth and a more just society, so that all of us have the tools, the opportunities, and the fair compensation to thrive together and to weather oncoming adversity, including climate change.

We in the community development field have the tools, resources, and experience that such a massive community healing and rebuilding effort requires. Jump in and help where you can. And please share your ideas and actions on community equity strategies in the face of COVID-19 and beyond. We’ll publish more links and resources in the May Vanguard (please send your examples to  jane@growthandjustice.org )

Take care out there!