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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.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

4-year-old New Zealand boy and police share toys.

Sometimes the adorableness of small children is almost too much to take.

According to the New Zealand Police, a 4-year-old called the country's emergency number to report that he had some toys for them—and that's only the first cute thing to happen in this story.

After calling 111 (the New Zealand equivalent to 911), the preschooler told the "police lady" who answered the call that he had some toys for her. "Come over and see them!" he said to her.

The dispatcher asked where he was, and then the boy's father picked up. He explained that the kids' mother was sick and the boy had made the call while he was attending to the other child. After confirming that there was no emergency—all in a remarkably calm exchange—the call was ended. The whole exchange was so sweet and innocent.

But then it went to another level of wholesome. The dispatcher put out a call to the police units asking if anyone was available to go look at the 4-year-old's toys. And an officer responded in the affirmative as if this were a totally normal occurrence.

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