Monday MOCHA Walks & the Real Food Challenge [video]

The Men of Color Health Awareness movement (MOCHA) kicked off their Monday walks last night (weekly at 6:30PM, at the mini-track behind the YMCA).

We had a great discussion about the Real Food Challenge, thanks to Myles Postell Reynolds (video below).


“A quiet alarm sounds.” Brooklyn gentrification subject of art exhibit (City Limits Magazine)

Gentrification may seem like a problem we wish we had, but  I am convinced that the time is now to plan for sustainable and equitable development. One risk is that, at the first sign of economic opportunity, big boxes and national chains will pour in, curtailing an historic opportunity to build real community. 125th Street? Times Square? Holyoke Mall?

This image (above) is part of the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts’ exhibit, “The Gentrification of Brooklyn: The Pink Elephant Speaks.” More images here. From their press release: “This exhibition, guest curated by Dexter Wimberly, will examine how urban planning, eminent domain, and real estate development are affecting Brooklyn’s communities and how residents throughout the borough are responding. The exhibition will include the works of several Brooklyn-based artists, as well as those who have been forced to relocate as a result of gentrification. In addition to works of art featured at MoCADA, there will be a schedule of public programs taking place throughout Brooklyn.”

From the City Limits Magazine review: “Anyone who’s lived in New York for a while has done it: Walked down a familiar block and remembered the old days – even three or four years ago – when that yoga studio was a bodega, that multinational bank was a local business, and you could rent a one-bedroom apartment for under $2,000.”

Environmental justice/land use photo-tour of Springfield at WNEC Law School [Updated x2]

Yesterday I talked about environmental justice and land use with Ben Rajotte’s students at Western New England College School of Law. Van Jones (Obama’s exiled green jobs czar) set the stage with this excellent video (below). And I followed up with a guided photo-tour of Springfield’s most dramatic built environment equity issues (environmental justice tourism!). Download the slideshow here (PDF, 11.5 MB).

UPDATE: My friend Bill Childs (see his WNEC “Blawg” here) alerted me that the commercial activity around the Basketball Hall of Fame is not all national chains. Onyx is owned by two local guys (WARNING: annoying music!), one of whom is a WNEC alum. And Max’s is a regional chain.

UPDATE: Relatedly, today’s NY Times piece, “Slumbering Pittsburgh neighborhood reawakens,” is about the revival of a Pittsburgh neighborhood (East Liberty). The article refers to a “community plan” that called for “attracting shoppers to a broader range of businesses than the aging mom-and-pop stores that remained, reviving the street grid, and creating jobs and better housing.” Big boxes are never neighborhood upgrades, but I couldn’t help but consider the possibilities of attracting national chains but requiring that they are scaled appropriately, located downtown, and pedestrian-friendly.

Leighton Ku comes to SI to hear about MA health reform & community impact

Leighton Ku, a health policy researcher at George Washington University School of Public Health and a member of the Kaiser Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, came to The Springfield Institute last week to learn more about the community impact of health reform in Massachusetts. The need for education, employer challenges, needle exchange, and minority workforce development were among the themes discussed. These video highlights from our conversation (below) include comments from José Claudio, Michael Denney, Vanessa Otero, Trevis Wray, Herbierto Flores, and me.