The past 21 months have been a time like no other. I’m enormously proud of how my Urban Institute colleagues have responded to the moment. But I know it has also taken a toll on them. So, we made the unprecedented decision to shut Urban’s virtual and physical doors for one week later this month: Urban will be closed January 17 to 21 to provide the entire Urban team time to rest, serve, and reflect following the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
Pandemic-related stress has been uniquely acute for those with small children or elderly parents to care for, as well as for people of color, who have watched the pandemic have a disproportionate effect on their communities. Urban seeks solutions to these very challenges through our research and analyses—but we cannot effectively meet that mission or do our best if we are mentally and emotionally exhausted. As University of California, Irvine, neuroscientist Mike Yassa told The Atlantic last year, everyone is experiencing “some mild cognitive impairment” these days because of the chronic stress we’ve endured living through a pandemic.
The well-being of Urban’s community is essential to our ability to contribute to the well-being of all communities this year and beyond. Giving our team time to fully unplug and reset is critical for Urban to continue to do our best work—and bring our best selves to that work in 2022.
And I’m excited about what Urban plans to do this year! We will develop evidence-rich decisionmaking tools for advancing racial equity, we will examine how to ensure all workers feel a sense of dignity and autonomy in their jobs, we will bring research insights to inform place-based strategies to strengthen communities, and so much more. Despite serious challenges, 2022 holds great promise for progress. And we look forward to partnering with you and learning from you throughout.
I appreciate your support and your understanding while we are unavailable. And I hope your new year is off to an inspiring start.