Child drawing with finger on a foggy window

COVID-19 has created unimaginable uncertainty in an already uncertain world.

Other significant events have brought their unique form of devastation—physically, financially, socially and emotionally—to communities. We have been privileged to work with communities ravaged by tragedy. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, we helped facilitate Imagine New York, 250 workshops in the New York City region. We facilitated meetings is some of the hardest hit wards of New Orleans as part of the recovery from the wreckage of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. We facilitated efforts for Alabama coastal communities to help heal the damage to the community and watersheds after the BP oil spill disaster in 2010.

While no two tragedies are alike, and each community has unique characteristics, planning was a key part of progress. Through our experience we have distilled five fundamental principles for planning in tragic circumstances and with a focus on recovery.

  • Commit to inclusiveness
  • Demonstrate empathy
  • Foster trust
  • Maintain transparency
  • Build towards action

While these principles could apply to any effective planning process, they are never more important than they are now because of the far-reaching devastation of COVID-19.