September 25, 2020

Dear CNU members, friends, allies, and partners:

‘COVID summer’ is now behind us and so many of us are living in a new normal: juggling work and family responsibilities at home, with seemingly unending remote work, all with a more acute awareness of the work necessary to help eliminate structural racism.

We believe that CNU is poised to make a significant impact on the complex issues facing so many communities. Our movement has a history of identifying significant issues and developing innovative tools that work across multiple contexts. We are guided by a Charter that makes our values clear and unambiguous. Our conviction that the problems of sprawl, segregation, disinvestment, and environmental deterioration are all intertwined is what sets CNU apart.

In March, we released our 2020 strategic plan, which lays out our organizational priorities for the next several years. While written before COVID and the national recognition of the Black Lives Matter movement, we are proud that this strategic plan is as strong and relevant – to the organization and the movement – as it did when we were drafting it.

In the past, our annual Congress has provided the opportunity for us to gather, problem solve, and brainstorm around critical issues. However, we have been closely following the spikes, declines, and surges of COVID-19 in states and cities across the country. The scientific community is in agreement that COVID-19 will be part of our life for the foreseeable future and because of this, the CNU National Board made the difficult decision to hold our next Congress, CNU 29, virtually rather than in person May 19-21, 2021.

We all want to gather together as soon as possible, but for the next 8-12 months, the state of our national public health will be too uncertain to host an in-person Congress. We have rescheduled the Oklahoma City Congress, now CNU 30, for March 2022 to allow all of us to meet in person earlier than usual that year. Additionally, we are working closely with CNU chapters to help facilitate and coordinate citywide meetups during the Congress, should the public health guidelines change dramatically between now and then.

CNU members have an essential role to play in addressing the social, environmental, and economic challenges we are facing. We need to leverage our belief that the built environment is fundamental to the pursuit of a more just and sustainable world. Our conviction is that the built form plays an indispensable role in equalizing access to resources, in tackling climate change, and in helping people feel safer and more socially connected.

We need to meet the extraordinary demand for places designed for access, connection, and resilience. We need systemic change so that the achievement of high quality urbanism can be shared by all, regardless of income or race.

Please join us as we come together to tackle these challenges. Now, more than ever, we need to function as a movement broad enough and deep enough to implement all aspects of the Charter.

Stay safe and thank you for all your contributions.

Laurie Volk
CNU Board of Directors

Lynn Richards
President and CEO
Congress for the New Urbanism