A big part of community building is developing, growing and nurturing relationships. This is a challenge during COVID-19 when in-person meetings and gatherings have gone virtual or been postponed.

Stepping up to help organizations you believe in is also part of community building. Prior to the coronavirus, my wife, Sherry, and I committed to co-hosting a couple of key events in the city. COVID-19 has caused those plans to shift so critical fundraising can continue.

One of those events is Dinner by the Bridge, the signature fundraiser for Greenways for Nashville. I have been a champion for the organization since the early 2000s, supporting its mission to preserve open space and expand the network of trails across the city and Davidson County.

Last year, Sherry and I co-hosted the fundraising event gathering with 540 supporters near Nashville’s downtown pedestrian bridge to celebrate on a beautiful fall evening. While there won’t be a gathering this September, we still need to raise money for greenways.

We set about raising sponsor money not knowing whether or not an event would really happen. When it became evident the dinner event would be canceled by COVID-19, we found nearly all of our sponsors opted to continue with their support, realizing greenways and parks are so important to our health and well-being in this time of pandemic.

Sherry serves on the board of the Nashville Entrepreneur Center and we were asked to co-host its most important fundraising event, the Next Awards. We were in the process of designing a black-tie event, now postponed until next year. Instead, we have shifted to a new fundraising initiative called the Power of 10. While we are raising money, unfortunately we will have to delay honoring our Hall of Fame recipients including former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and Lucius Burch, an amazing man who has funded so many incredible organizations including LetterLogic, Sherry’s entrepreneurial venture.

Like you, I’m attending my share of staff, board and committee meetings virtually. I am also spending time online learning new approaches to smart growth or how cities are preparing for climate events via Urban Land Institute webinars and conferences.

Since the current health crisis prevents us from gathering in large groups, I plan to join my Core Development team and industry peers virtually for ULI Nashville’s Excellence in Development Awards (Unmasked) on Sept. 29. It is the first virtual awards gala for ULI Nashville, which is pivoting to keep everyone safe while celebrating outstanding Middle Tennessee developments, projects, teams and sponsors.