For the first time in a long time, I’ve got time. So I think I’ll spend an hour refining those three big goals I’ve been working through. The more refined they are, the easier it should be to figure out some actions that’ll work toward solving the problems created by those three big goals. I’ve been finding too that writing this stuff down makes talking about those goals more natural. So today I’ll just write 3 paragraphs, one for each of the goals.
Education – I am going to help define what designing for the margins looks like.
I believe we are not done innovating in the field of education until everyone wins. Students from my neighborhood win less predictably than their peers in other neighborhoods. In my career, I have worked almost exclusively with students that weren’t winning. That experience has taught me that we can do better, not in some fluffy, we can change the world kind of way, like actually do better. We can make a better school, one that works for more than just the kids that were already winning, one that works for everyone. I believe other people are finding the same thing to be true, and I find that incredibly interesting.
I’ve go no idea what form (read – actionable items, next steps, quantifiable goals, etc…) any of the above would take, but I like the spirit of it, which is a good start.
Inner City – I am going to help rewrite the narrative around our inner cities.
The stories white suburban America tells itself about the inner city are all wrong. If we weren’t taught to fear areas of concentrated poverty, we were told to go out of our way to avoid them. I say we, because I am a part of that subset of Americans. No one ever told me how to think about the corner of 8th and Burleigh, but I had an opinion of what to expect long before we decided to move here and what I found out was we were all wrong. Our unjustified fear gives us comfort in choosing to position ourselves further and further from inner city neighborhoods which only exacerbates the issues found there. Instead of avoidance, we should embrace. We should replace fear with empathy. Instead of judgement, we should ask ourselves how it got to be this way. Then we should consider what each of our roles might be in perpetuating the problems and what we can do to put things back to the way we all want them to be.
Housing – I am going to flip my neighborhood.
Living in the poorest part of Milwaukee has taught me the value of stable housing when you are living within the margins. Stable housing in 53206 is in short supply. A critical mass of the properties are treated as disposable which creates a level of transiency within the community. Unfortunately, this means inner city families with little to spare are starting over much more frequently than their suburban peers causing instability within neighborhoods. This problem can be solved by thoughtful investment in these spaces that lead to properties renters are proud to live in while still providing rates of return to investors that rival returns netted in other common long term investments. This balance is not only achievable, it is an easy way to make long term change in inner city neighborhoods. I have seen the power owning 5 houses within the same half a block has on the stability of a neighborhood and while 5 per half block might not be the “right” formula, there is a right formula for providing enough stability to jumpstart long term sustained economic growth for everyone involved. I want to be the catalyst for that growth in my neighborhood.