You don't have to leave your neighborhood to live in a better one | Majora Carter - Transcripts

September 21, 2022

  • Favorite
  • Share
You don't have to leave your neighborhood to live in a better one | Majora Carter


you're listening to Ted talks daily I'm Elise you urban revitalize our majora Carter wants us to rethink poverty and economic development by putting community at the center in her talk from ten twenty twenty two she shares her work in retaining the talent in her neighborhood in the same way companies fight to keep their best people and stick around after the talk for a conversation between majora and me about how to best put ideas into action all that after a quick break I am Steven Johnson host of the Ted interview podcast on this show we talked to some of the world's most interesting people to dig into the provocative and powerful ideas of our time on the latest episode imagination gaming and predicting the future with chain mechanical every art form has its own unique mediums so sculptor's work with clay and fashion designers work with fabrics uterus work with clues to the future to stretch our imagination check out the ten interview on apple podcasts Spotify or wherever you listen the farmer Ted talks daily comes from Atlassian how teams work is just as important as what they create and the entire concept of collaboration team work and how to get things done is evolving meet us at the forefront of this shift at our newest event Atlassian presents work life join an innovative group of business teams from fortune five hundred companies and collaboration experts from Atlassian learn how to manage all aspects of modern work from best practices new workflows team culture technology and more challenge conventional thinking and learn my teams that work differently together make history see you at Atlassian presents the work life at San Francisco's chase center on September twenty ninth or attend digital register now at WWW dot Atlassian dot com slash work life Ted talks daily is brought to you by progressive have you tried the name your price tool yet that works just the way it sounds you tell progressive how much you want to pay for car insurance and they'll show you coverage options that fit your budget it's easy to start a quote and you'll be able to find a rate that works for you it's just one of the many ways you can save with progressive get your quote today at progressive dot com and see why four out of five new auto customers recommend progressive progressive casualty insurance company affiliates pricing coverage match limited by state law

successful companies don't invest in talent so the competition can hire them away they keep their people motivated to grow with the company and inspire those around them to lean in with them I believe that talent retention the same tool used to grow successful companies can be used to build great neighborhoods for the people born and raised in them my hometown is a south Bronx in New York City and inspect Holla and it's the kind of neighborhoods that some might say actually has a talent repulsion strategy back in the nineteen eighties I walked by this crack house on the way the subway that would take me to my high school one of the best in the country the Bronx high school of science all right figure to be at least something in here neighborhoods like mine are places where inequality is assumed by the people who live there and by everyone else on the outside looking in these are places where the schools public health air and water parks and trees food options career opportunities are worse than in other parts of the same town government subsidized rental housing and health clinics homeless shelters a liquor stores dollar stores predominate a few banks but plenty of check cashing stores or pawn shops that charge you use the money you may have I refer to these communities as low status I don't call them poor or underprivileged because frankly status implies something larger and deeper at work and that inequality is a well established fact think of the communities like that near you they're everywhere their inner cities there are reservations white rust belt towns and all over the world and bright kids who grow up in them are expected to measure success by how far they get away from them I was one of those kids and now I'm a real estate developer and strategy consultant and I work nationally but the south Bronx is my research and development laboratory work for where I actually practiced restorative community development and that same quarter that was once a crack house is now the home of my hip hop cafe award winning hip hop cafe the skews me the boogie down grind and it is and it's two blocks away from the house I grew up in and around the corner from where I live right now so I have embraced my inner capitalist and my inner socialist and my in a libertarian among a bunch of other things however but I'd like to talk now about how capitalism and the spirit behind it in its application that's what determines outcomes so US capitalism supported slavery and it's supported black wall street's those communities a black folks formally in slave or just one generation out of it and where they build great buildings businesses and wealth in communities and the most famous of which was the town of of green spell greens what in Tulsa Oklahoma black wall street's were destroyed burned down and the black people in the murders by white mobs savagely and without consequence now was that capitalism's fault or some kind of white cultural flaw or distinction it has gone unaddressed to the state now I know some people don't like hearing about it but imagine what it feels like to experience it I mean America's had a talent retention strategy or some something like it in place since sixteen nineteen slavery provided white Americans with all the benefits of the bat that barbaric and predatory industry and all the black wall street's were built on the sustainable ideals of life liberty and the pursuit of happiness and property ownership black wall street's were destroyed because the people who built them we're not white same system very different outcomes Citigroup estimates that the racial wealth gap the bridge in the U. S. has actually costs the US sixteen trillion dollars over the last twenty years alone now let's just think about that for just a moment


the money that could have gone into the economy but didn't because of systemic racism that defined who benefited from America's growth there's no need to reinvent the wheel here if we want to make America as good as its promise then we should apply the same tools of capitalism that build white wealth to build wealth and low status communities especially especially in terms of of a property ownership and real estate development because real estate development in Los status communities in the U. S. currently takes one of two paths your first party maintains wherein you'll see things like the concentration of things such as health clinics and government subsidized housing rents usually rental housing pharmacies philanthropic and government dollars pour in and the nonprofit industrial complex used to view poverty sort of as a an authentic cultural attributes of the area and thus you'll see all sorts of programs that are designed to serve manage that prop that poverty but the communities do not improve money will be made lots of it but not for the local people and in fact one can do many of the well intentioned programs as talent extraction is the promising talent is encouraged to grow up and be somebody but certainly not in their own hood the any other type is gentrification displacement when urban populations grow even some politicians and even some activists will resist greater density so you have rising demand and limited supply and then prices go up and gentrification generally means outsiders coming into our community in order to build one that's like suits their needs and their desires but and it's not for the needs in as ours are the people that are in that community but let's just be real it's it's it's not always mutually exclude exclusive because people in those communities want nice things to do and that's why they leave whenever they can in order to experience them so capitalism can fuel gentrification and displacement or poverty maintenance but neither neither of these strategies actually help the kind of the people in those communities live in the kind of of neighborhoods that we all deserve what if we looked at low status communities as though they were struggling companies how would we turn them around how would a talent retention model work in out in on this neighborhood scale so municipalities they hand out corporate retention deals because they believe that the economic activity activity that it'll produce is actually worth the subsidy that they pay out and so we'll need to do the same thing and for the most that is communities for the people that we were led to believe that they need to measure success by how far they get away from those places so we are we can't really force anybody to stay but we can nudge them with lifestyle infrastructure the type of stuff that we learned through our own market research that people told us that they want it places like cafes and bars and bookstores and farmers markets and you know the price is the price we you probably all like to go to to they build positive community interactions and make people feel really cool so another nudge would be real access to property ownership and business ownership that keeps people vested in their neighborhoods these are like benefits you know in company stock options the kind that is so when the community does well this is only the residents it's kind of like the the employees of a hot start up so how do we make sure that the these benefits and stock options get in the right hands and appreciate and value for them now in the US if you're accused of a crime and can't afford legal counsel a public this defender will be assigned to you the same can be done for local property owners before a real estate transaction goes forward within a low status community the seller should receive quality legal and financial counsel so they are fully aware of the value of their land and how they could maximize it through sensible refinancing my building you know vertical additions before rentals and also you know assessor redrawing units and also using the value to to to do sensible refinancing put their their kids to college build a business you know or maybe you know since this is property owners might even be considered a protected class by the United States a security exchange commission in order to protect black wealth in particular and other low status community wealth from the continuing liquidation that they still deal with because it is common for people who do own property in Los status communities to be approached all the time a port for quick cash offers these can be they can be very enticing to people who have never been led to believe that there's any real value in their community and the thing is it's all legal and with real estate companies big and small as well as private equity have done a very effective job of increasing wealth inequality in the U. S. by separating financially on savvy people from any hope of generational wealth potential so you know the SEC recently proposed new rules requiring businesses to report their greenhouse gas emissions in an effort to increase transparency the rest too and for its investors maybe they should do the same thing for taxpayers we know real estate private equity firms can engage in predatory practices at the expense of taxpayers by privatizing the the the the the profits and socializing the costs and this is because a business model that reduces opportunities for homeownership also creates more landless renters exacerbates the concentration of poverty and statistically increases poverty spell effects including higher rates of bad policing and incarceration and lower health and educational outcomes their message shut out Spierings homeowners from the American dream it comes at a cost of all of us and so it should come at a far greater cost to those who do business like that another issue is that some ranchers actually pay more in rent and then they would buy a mortgage but most of us who actually need a mortgage cannot compete with the speed at which predatory speculators show up with all cash deals period a possible solution is for philanthropic organizations to buy properties at market rate and value from those who actually choose once they're fully aware of of what they're selling choose people who choose to sell and then hold them so that other folks within the communities have the time to get financing and then by that's a valuable cushion of time for people and it gives people a chance to participate in the American dream and it's a low risk place to park capital these are some examples of just how we can build a restorative economic approach to to capitalism it's still capitalism but with rules and practices that favor the outcomes that we need as an as a nation folks on the ground they're not waiting there absolutely not waiting in a in west Oakland California third generation west Oakland or noni session leaves the East Bay permanent real estate cooperative they have recently acquired property collectively to build a permanent affordable a mixed used on real estate development that benefits its resident owners the cooperatives offers his lunch time learning sessions so people can fully understand things about investment and development and to the current membership includes about five hundred community investor resident and staff owners and they have to date raised five million dollars for their community landing and housing five in Philadelphia a community development program started by a call jump start started by can wind Steen it it's a he's a commercial real estate developer and he provided and that the program provides a training mentoring and loans to aspiring local residential developers mostly of women and people of color since twenty fifteen there wasn't they trained more than twenty five hundred people more than three hundred and fifty loans totaling more than forty million dollars that have actually we have more than three hundred and fifty units have been read read totally rehabilitated their respective activities actually improve the value of each other's properties and these books and they're reducing blight you know in Philly from the neighborhood by neighborhood from the inside out there now jump starts now in more than thirteen communities around the country and do Langer is a member of the act tribe in Alaska and he's what he's working on securing livelihoods for aspiring native youth and women you know and where he's from and he's doing it through kelp farming in ancestral native waters kelp is a traditional food source number one and it also has important commercial a component in bioplastics enough pharmaceuticals and also if they use it as an additive in cattle feed to reduce the methane in it I mean it's it's amazing what I could do and so what he's competing against multinational companies to actually own a piece of this emerging ocean industry for his people so he's gonna be up against it but he's got to be doing this it's so it's important and in the south Bronx there's this historic rail station that brought my Daddy who is a Pullman Porter into the neighborhood when I was where I was born and raised back in the nineteen forties it was even harder to get a mortgage while black and he won fifteen thousand dollars in a horse race and carried it in effect in the satchel you know back across the country and purchased a home near that rail station after his family and that rail station has recently been acquired by his baby daughter the me who is transforming it into a mixed use into a multi use performance venue and event hall for music and weddings and keep seniors and gaming tournaments and


I am the manifestation of my mommy and Daddy's wildest dreams now

I'm not

saying that talent retention is gonna solve all the problems associated with poverty maintenance or displacement and gentrification or solve all the wrongs of capitalism but I know we are not going to solve any of those problems without it we don't have to keep building monuments that honor the shameful practices that created the inequality that low status communities experience if we use the tools of capitalism that we have but in a much more restorative way we can help people in Los status communities show that you don't have to move out of our neighborhoods to live in better ones thank you

mature you mentioned the boogie down grind in your talk so tell us what inspired you to open that and how you ensured that you were meeting the needs and the wants of the community when you opened it up we did surveys focus groups also to things like that and people would consistently say they wanted to cool places to hang out and like cafes and restaurants and bars none of which we had in our community and these are called third space is right exactly call them third spaces that's like urban planner parlance but yes

neither home nor work exactly but places that build community because you're engaged in the active community while you're in these places that are not at work now

for other folks are listening to this who might be inspired by this idea how does one get started I mean not everybody is a real estate developer but does want to contribute or revitalize their own communities I mean look you start where you are when I first started doing this work is twenty years ago I was working as a ten dollar in our community organizer in a little community and it literally started with talking to our community about what they wanted they wanted to see things like you cleaner streets like places to hang out with and their kids and literally started with cleaning up an old dump and then we built the idea that you know this list end of a street was the beginning of a bridge then transformed itself or we help transform it into a park that literally brought in with a three million dollars to develop it so I think that's what you do you do what you can't because you don't know where it's going to end but dream big and then follow up on it how does it extending housing because so much of the conversation around building new housing centers on building low income housing but you have suggested that building exclusively low income housing can actually continue a cycle our concentration of poverty yeah can you say more about that what you mean by that sure well statistically having IT make this up Smith suggested me the concentration of poverty literally begets other types of issues associated with it you know lower health outcomes lower educational attainment higher rates of folks being involved in the justice system you know even bad policing and so I think the most obvious thing we can do is just well don't concentrate poverty

and and especially I think you know we're not trying to integrate super wealthy neighborhoods but our approach to real estate development isn't it we call it a talent retention approach right the same kind that you know we literally took the page out of a successful business book like it retain your your good talent and we think that if you can encourage people to stay specifically with lifestyle infrastructure things like cafes and bars and stuff like that if you build it there Thursday not that they'll come in you know we're okay with people coming to but our approach is more about how do you retain that talent the talent that's there so they can actually you have the kind of impact economically socially and even spiritually when people start to see like whoa like their people in my and it's staying in my neighborhood who are doing the kind of things that people say we can't do

one idea that really struck me from your talk was providing a public defender to offer legal counsel for property ownership just as we have public defenders in the justice system so I'm curious how that could be actualized

cities states municipalities could say so so we can start at that level but also I think if the U. S. securities exchange commission's actually set those people that are in love status communities and literally deem them as a protected class because there's so much I considered fraud photo it's perfectly legal for real estate companies okay for big or small in the particular private equity firms to go into those communities make quick cash offers because they're banking on the assumption that people have no idea what value that there is any value in their communities and they're almost a hundred percent right I mean I could think about in my own neighborhood in the south Bronx less than twenty years ago the home owner occupied home ownership rate not really was something about like well over twenty percent and now it's less than seven oh my gosh it almost all of those deals were the result of predatory speculators coming in and buying those properties for far less than they're worth and what does that do for the generational wealth potential it's just tragic so but again if their policies in place if there's a public defender yeah seven I mean literally I think we could have such an impact such an impact on the generational wealth potential you know in American the status communities will match your car thank you so much thank you thank you for having me