The Downtown Discussions Webinar Series was created by the Downtown Long Beach Alliance (DLBA) last May to provide immediate assistance to Downtown businesses affected by COVID-19. Beginning December 4, and continuing on the first Friday of each month, the series will reboot in an ambitious and far-reaching new format.

Conducted as a roundtable discussion, the December 4 installment features knowledgeable panelists who will bring local, regional, and international expertise to the table on the topic, “Design for Distancing — Creative Strategies to Adapt Public Space to the Pandemic and Beyond.” The discussion will revolve around COVID-19’s impact on public space in terms of use, access, and equity.

The Downtown Discussions event will be moderated by David Downey, President and CEO of the International Downtown Association. The panelists are Norma Garcia Gonzalez, Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Parks and Recreation; Shannon Heffernan, Urban Design Director at the Long Beach architecture firm Studio One Eleven; Midori Mizuhara, Planner + Urban Designer with the international design and architecture firm Gensler; and Brian Ulaszewski, Executive Director at the Long Beach non-profit design studio City Fabrick.

“Accessible, functional, equitable, and welcoming public space is so important to the well-being of communities, and particularly to denser urban environments like downtown areas,” said Downey. “I am looking forward to moderating this meeting of the minds to dig into how the health crisis has altered our understanding of the public realm, and how we might leverage those lessons to design spaces for all members of our communities.”

Providing a glimpse ahead at the discussion, Ulaszewski noted that the experiences and lessons learned about the public sphere during the pandemic were far-reaching and ought to be analyzed when planning for the future. “Throughout 2020, we have had to adapt the public realm to new and expanded purposes to serve our community during extreme and evolving conditions, and we had to do so in rapid fashion,” said Ulaszewski. “There is no reason this responsiveness and experimentation cannot be done in the future, for the benefit of community safety and public health.”

The December Webinar provides unique free access to an expert roundtable typically only found at high-cost industry conferences, giving stakeholders in Downtown Long Beach and beyond the opportunity to ask questions and hear ideas about creative solutions. “December’s topic is important to any downtown or urban area where the public sphere is constantly utilized by all sorts of people,” said Samantha Mehlinger, DLBA’s Communications Manager. “We’re hoping to capture a broad audience and elevate community resources to a higher caliber.”

“We’re looking to promote a better exchange of ideas beyond the local area,” said Morris Mills, DLBA’s Research and Public Policy Analyst. “We’d like DLBA to be a model for the way business improvement districts engage and support stakeholders and policy makers.”

Audience members for this Zoom-hosted Webinar are encouraged to send their questions in advance to SamanthaM@dlba.org, but will also have the opportunity to submit them in real time during the question-and-answer session after the discussion segment.

Join DLBA and this esteemed panel of experts by tuning in at 10:30 AM on Friday, December 4. You can bookmark this link (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/84679798053) and open it during the event to tune in and participate via Zoom, view a livestream on DLBA’s Facebook account @downtownlongbeach, or sign up in advance by clicking here.