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For just $10 each, New Yorkers are taking back their city. Because rent is too damn high.

A new group is putting power — and real estate — back in the hands of everyday people.

For just $10 each, New Yorkers are taking back their city. Because rent is too damn high.

It's known as the city that never sleeps. Maybe that's because we're all so freaking busy working just so we can afford to live here.

Historically, New York has served as one of the greatest hotbeds for creativity in the country. It's where people like legendary musicians David Byrne and Patti Smith became, well, legends. But since that heyday, Byrne and Smith have gone public about how the city's focus on catering to the wealthy and ever-rising rents — on studio spaces, living spaces, and community space — are closing the door on creativity and culture in New York.


"If that's a veiled criticism about me, I won't hear it, and I won't respond to it." GIF from "Arrested Development."

They've got a point. But it's not just happening in New York. Building rents across the country are on the rise, making it harder and harder for working artists and locals to put down roots in their communities.

Median rent in Denver is up over 10% from last year. Over 8% in Kansas City. 7% in Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas. And New Yorkers are getting hit especially hard: Median rents have jumped 75% from 2000 to 2012. Meanwhile, hideously expensive (and, uh, hideous) luxury buildings are being erected left and right.

Wealthy foreign buyers are using shell companies to snap up these eyesores on their behalf and — insult to injury — they're not even doing anything with the eyesores they bought.

It's a pretty disheartening situation. So much so that Patti Smith went ahead and proclaimed that New York City has been taken away from the young and the struggling.

Her advice? “Find a new city."

How about a longer-term strategy that doesn't involve a U-Haul? A strategy for locals and artists to own a piece of the real-estate pie?

Hold onto those horses, Patti. There's hope yet.

Enter: The NYC Real Estate Investment Cooperative (NYC REIC), organized by a group of local residents, artists, and activists.

Tired of rising rents forcing out small businesses and locals, they asked themselves: “What if investment in real estate and concern for local community went together?" GOOD QUESTION. (Uh, maybe one that should be at the heart of all city planning?)

Cumulus? Nimbus? Venn diagramus. Image via NYC REIC.

And they came up with a brilliantly simple idea to take back their city.

The plan is this: Anyone can join the co-op by pitching in $10. (There's also a hardship fund so you won't be turned away if you don't have the cash on hand.) Then, members democratically choose a commercial space to purchase. Throw in some help from the org's lawyers and a little community oversight, and you've got a property for local businesses to operate, for artists to work, and for community groups to organize — that's guaranteed to have affordable rent forever.

Yeah, you heard me. Affordable rent forever. That is too damn awesome.

And New Yorkers seem to think so, too: Within one month of launching, NYC REIC received pledges of over $1.2 million.

The cooperative now has hundreds of members, and they're on the hunt for their first purchase.

The founders of NYC REIC believe that real prosperity means community prosperity. And their belief is grounded in fact.

They were actually inspired by a similar cooperative — the first of its kind in the U.S. — that was started in Minneapolis. There, over 200 local residents pooled their resources into the NorthEast Investment Cooperative (NEIC), purchasing two buildings on a neglected avenue. Business is booming today on Central Avenue, with a locally owned co-op brewery, bakery, and bike shop.

Oh, hey, Central Avenue. You look nice. Image via NEIC.

Now, NYC REIC is scaling up that model, with the goal of making New York a place where small businesses and local culture can not just survive, but thrive. So far, NEIC and NYC REIC are the only real estate co-ops of their kind in the U.S.

So far…

But the beauty of it is that it's a simple, highly adaptable model that communities around the world can use to take back their cities.

So, Patti? Maybe come back to New York. And to all the rest of you exhausted and overworked creatives: Here's to a future where we can afford to do what we love AND sleep like normal human beings.

One hour before my next shift. Just going to rest my eyeeezzzzzzzzzzzzz.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

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Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
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Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

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via Witty Buttons / Twitter

Back in 2017, when white supremacist Richard Spencer was socked in the face by someone wearing all black at Trump's inauguration, it launched an online debate, "Is it OK to punch a Nazi?"

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The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

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