Articles

  • Worker loading farm boxes

    Pandemic highlights food chain workers' precarious and essential positions

    Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, news headlines have called attention to both “essential workers” in the food system, such as farmworkers and grocery store employees, and extensive job losses for food system workers, primarily in retail and restaurants. There are requests for contributions to virtual tip jars and for customers to buy gift cards from small businesses alongside fears of food chain disruptions, empty grocery shelves, and virus exposure while shopping. All of this highlights the often invisible precarity of essential workers in the US food system — and the precariousness of the food system itself.
  • Little Sugar Creek Greenway near uptown Charlotte

    Keeping the conversation about public space alive past coronavirus

    Projects that usually take years are happening in weeks during the coronavirus pandemic: Cities are closing streets to cars, opening public space for sidewalk cafes and investing more in pop-up parks and outdoor amenities.  Planners are responding to a desperate desire for more public, outdoor space, as restaurants, gyms, bars, concert venues, offices, schools and other indoor gathering places remain closed or severely restricted. In Charlotte, city officials have closed about two miles of streets near parks to through traffic, in order to give people more room that’s usually been reserved for cars.  The question, though, as restrictions begin lifting and people crave a return to some kind of normalcy, is whether such changes represent a permanent shift or a fleeting blip in our car-centric culture.
  • Empty classroom desks

    COVID-19 highlights educational inequities

    The novel coronavirus, better known as COVID-19, has changed the world as we know it. This holds true for the field of education, particularly K-12 schools in North Carolina and across the U.S. COVID-19 has exposed some glaring educational inequities that were present before the pandemic, but in many ways have been amplified during this crisis. As a result, I provide four major educational inequities that have directly impacted the most vulnerable K-12 students’ ability to learn and reach various educational academic achievement metrics.
  • Uptown Charlotte skyline with UNC Charlotte building

    Gambrell Faculty Fellows program returns to fund studies of the Charlotte region

    The UNC Charlotte Urban Institute, with support from the Gambrell Foundation, is preparing to launch the second cohort of faculty fellows to study pressing issues in the Charlotte region. 
  • Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

    The gendered implications of COVID-19

    What are the gendered implications of COVID-19 for women doing the work that keeps many of us alive? At the front lines of this pandemic, women are overburdened,  an unseen labor force that keeps the country running and takes care of those most in need whether or not there is a pandemic. These women are underpaid and undervalued, they are the essential workers, and they are more at-risk for intimate partner violence and sexual exploitation. And the most striking implication is that we are exposing women to COVID-19, in some cases killing them, even as they are trying to save us.
  • Walking in Charlotte NC

    Adding open space: How other cities are opening streets to pedestrians during coronavirus

    Across the Charlotte region, parks have been full and streets largely empty for the past several weeks, as people try to get out of their houses for fresh air and exercise while staying home from work and school. Other cities have been opening vast stretches of their streets to walkers, joggers, bicyclists and others seeking outdoor space while following social distance guidelines. The logic is simple: Auto traffic has plunged to levels no one could imagine two months ago, while millions of people need more places to be outside than often-inadequate parks. 
  • The Blue Line in uptown Charlotte

    Three ways coronavirus is impacting Charlotte transit

    More than a month into local stay-at-home orders and the shutdown of large parts of Charlotte’s economy, one area is clearly feeling the impact: public transit.  As might be expected, ridership numbers have plummeted, both as a result of workers staying  home and the Charlotte Area Transit System reducing hours. 
  • Housing in Charlotte

    Crises and family violence: Sometimes home isn’t safe

    Encouraging people to stay home, avoid non-essential outings is the main strategy to contain the spread of COVID-19. However, for those facing family violence, home can be anything but safe.  Advocates across the country are concerned about an increase in domestic violence and child abuse incidents, with schools closed and  families stuck at home.
  • A conceptual rendering of Tryon Street in the North Tryon Vision Plan. Charlotte Center City Partners.

    What does coronavirus mean for the future of urbanism in Charlotte?

    Monday night’s rezoning meeting felt like most Charlotte City Council sessions from previous years, despite the mayor and staff sitting six feet apart and developers battling audio and video glitches in the remote setup.  But even though developers are moving forward with most of their previously announced plans and cranes are still filling in the blank spaces on our city’s skyline with new towers, questions are swirling about what the era of COVID-19 means for the much-touted urban revival. 
  • Charlotte-Mecklenburg public elementary school students work in their school's computer lab. Photo: Nancy Pierce

    COVID-19 closes schools and brings on its own ‘summer slide’

    Students lose 20% to 30% of their school year learning gains over the summer and research has found that students of color, students with disabilities and those from low income families experience greater summer learning loss than their peers — and now, the coronavirus pandemic threatens to compound these losses.