Results of Deep Democracy with Maria's List

Intergenerational politics of compassion, justice, and healing became the hallmark of movement building campaigns led by Stacy Abrams (Georgia), Lucy McBath (GA-6), and Ayanna Pressley (MA-7). They left behind transactional politics and shattered myths by leading with their hearts and backing it up with multiracial campaign teams that executed the science of igniting the base and expanding the electorate.The 2020 Presidential primary cycle is informally kicking off next February, and its important that we take stock of where and how we invested and what was the return on that investment.

  • Democrats should never primary each other, it will lose us the House majority and voters hate it. Primaries made Democrats more competitive, win or lose, we activated more voters by expanding the participation of American Rising Electorate (ARE are known as millennial, unmarried women, and people of color) while igniting the base of traditional democrats..

  • Democrats of color cannot win in the suburbs or South, we need Blue dog Democrats that appeal to everyone. Lauren Underwood (IL-14), not only won in a crowded Democratic primary, she defeated her Republican opponent, and out raised the entire field. Her victory was buoyed by college educated white women. Similarly, in New Mexico and Michigan, women and women of color won the majority of statewide constitutional offices and/or Congressional seats.

  • Broad messaging focused on health care, tax bill, and Trump's divisiveness did not sway white working class voters or Trump conservatives to Democratic candidates. White working class voters doubled down their commitment to Trump in the South and Southwest, but in Maria's List Deep Democracy (Framework & Analysis for Giving) states like Georgia, Texas, and Florida, effective movement building campaigns led by Stacey Abrams, Beto O'Rourke, and Andrew Gillum, respectively, resulted in down ballot pickups across the board for District Attorney, US Congress, Secretary of State, and district level races . All these races were buoyed by a dramatic increase in ARE turnout, especially among millenials (except white men)and Black voters.

  • First time Democratic candidates, especially women and people of color, cannot raise the money or build the campaign teams to win. By promoting new movement building playbooks, which also proved to be cost effective, this challenge was overcome in the short term for those that won. Yet many of these new elected officials and movement building organizations will face fundraising challenges for this coming year.

The most important lesson from this cycle is that supporting deep democracy means igniting the traditional base of Democratic voters and expanding the participation of the ARE and non-voters. It also means that in places where we lost or won, we must continue this investment as early as possible in 2019. It also means to hold onto these tenous wins, we have to win policy and keep the community groups connecting with their base. With funding, that is. Let's invest in movement building organizations led especially by women of color like  Domestic Workers Alliance (Georgia), Texas Organizing Project (Texas), Chinese Progressive Association (Boston, MA) and Center for Civic Policy(Nevada).

For updates visit www.mariaslist.net

Prepared by:  Wilnelia Rivera & Diana Hwang

Change is Not Waiting, We Are Here

by Wilnelia Rivera

Some political pundits credit the recent victory of Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley as an anomaly of the political climate or at worst, an uninformed choice made by a new crop of voters who were swayed purely by good speeches and rallies. Not only does this dismiss Pressley as a viable candidate and a seasoned campaigner but it dismisses voters’ ability to decide on what’s best for their community. The reality is that women of color are not elected solely based on their inspirational stories. MA-07 deserve the real story to emerge and the numbers don’t lie. When compared to the last midterms, voter turnout increased by 58 percent (full analysis here).

The establishment said that Pressley couldn't build a team to effectively challenge a sitting incumbent without the support of Boston Mayor Walsh, former Governor Deval Patrick, or without the backing of  progressive labor unions and organizations such as 1199SEIU, Emily’s List, and Planned Parenthood. She had to raise at least $2 million dollars. She couldn’t win without TV. “It just was not possible,” they said, but our movement building strategy worked and produced historical results. Behind speeches and rallies were volunteers, staff, and Rivera Consulting, Inc., the lead architect of the Pressley campaign.  

Rivera Consulting, Inc. calls these campaigns movement building campaigns because they both expand the electorate and ignite the base. Activists are trained in relational organizing and reach out to the pool of people who don’t normally vote while conventional campaign tactics are used to ignite the traditional base of likely voters. They also learn campaign plans to win and how their contributions are vital to success. By increasing their ownership, their activism is likely to extend beyond election night.  

We need political campaigns that connect with voters and residents on the issues they care about and that are not just persuading them to show up for a candidate or party. This strategy contradicts most political spending which is dedicated to TV ads that no longer promotes turnout from the nearly 60 percent of the Democratic base, the American Rising Electorate (millennials, people of color, and unmarried women. These ads are only aimed at the swing voters. Traditional electoral investment has focused on recapturing mythical white working class voters at the neglect of working class in communities of color and women. To win over the near and long term, messaging needs to be more carefully robust/mindful.

At the same time, movement building campaigns are more dependent relationship driven strategies and the heavy use ethnic media, digital marketing, and social media. These campaigns seek not only to win elections, but also seek to usher in movements that enable future policy change and advocacy. I believed from the very beginning that Ayanna Pressley could win if we identified first time primary non-voters across the district that matched her voter base in Boston. We did. She can win if likely voters represented a smaller share of the overall electorate on Election Day. They did. She won by 18 points, almost doubling overall turnout, and winning over 76% of all precincts across the district.

A deeper dive also reveals that first-time primary voters made up nearly 50 percent of the overall electorate - representing  the majority of all voters - while frequent and super voters only made up 12 percent of the electorate. These new voters were largely millennials, people of color, and women - the base fueling the current political resistance from the ballot box to main street, who alongside traditional liberals sent a loud message: Change is Not Waiting, We Are Here.

In this political climate, if progressives want to win governance power, we must first recognize that conventional political funding that has contributed to this current landscape. We cannot go back to business as usual, we must build upon the progress of this cycle to deliver the governance coalition that is necessary to take back our country. This is not a gimmick or a television advertisement that can be done weeks before an Election Day. It requires hiring and developing the talent to run these campaigns. We must give early financial support to elect bold progressives, while also investing in increasing the turnout of our base. Movement building campaigns don’t stop on Election Day, they extend civic engagement into protests, policy change, and resistance.   

Rivera Consulting, Inc. at the Heart of People, Planning of Politics: A Preliminary Look Back at 2018

Rivera Consulting Inc., seeks to unlock the hearts, skills and minds of our clients using our deep democracy toolkit to produce multi-dimensional social interventions, political, and community empowerment strategies to transform engagement  and cross sector collaboration. Among staff and our clients, this work is rooted in consistent innovation within the firm to best reflect a rapidly changing environment driven by major social progress of women and people of color and fueled by increasing income inequality, displacement, and climate change.

As former government, non-profit, and political campaign staff, we understand the opportunities and challenges that come with addressing inequities and complex social problems.. At Rivera Consulting Inc., our deep democracy toolkit is contributing to a just transition to a more representative democracy and automated economy in more ways than one. In the case of the Committee to Elect Ayanna Pressley Campaign (MA-7), Founder of Rivera Consulting, Inc., Wilnelia Rivera, recently told the New York Times, in a region city that most conventional observers described as parochial:

“Our strategy was to expand the electorate and ignite the base. We trained new activists to engage in a new form of political campaign and to reach out to the pool of people who don’t normally vote.”

By promoting a movement building playbook, Rivera Consulting, Inc. is offering a viable and proven alternative to a more representative democracy and a road map for 21st centuries political campaigns. Repeating the playbook in Boston and across the country has not only achieved the same results for the same select few, but has intensified inequality, especially among the largest eligible voting base the American Rising Electorate (millennials, people of color, and unmarried women).

At Rivera Consulting, Inc., deep democracy opportunities also exist in places across the country where you have the following synergy of factors: 501c3 and 501c4 organizations leading integrated voter engagement efforts, progressive ballot questions, coordinated donor and field coordination, as well as bold, progressive, exciting women and people of color candidates. We work with organizers, candidates, operatives to identify deep democracy seats, than we work with with donors and philanthropy to make the case for early financial support of these races. As Rivera shared in a recent interview for The Heart of the Matter hosted by Malia Lazu of the Urban Labs, “If the woke aren’t taking the less woke or sleepy to something better, we need to take them on a journey with us.” We need each other to do the work of social change and a thriving team to lead interdependent movement. Our staff and clients continue to be at the forefront - whether it’s changing hearts, helping elect more Democratic women and people of color, or transformative policy change to create a more sustainable Earth.

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The case for inequality and need for intergenerational change can also be seen in Puerto Rico, a site where Rivera Consulting Inc., affiliate consultant, Cassandra Lopez Fradera, a diasporic Puerto Rican, visits as a healing justice practitioner and communications strategist to make the case for healing justice as a multi-dimensional tool that focuses on restoring dignity to survivors of colonial and domestic violence as well as, co-creating solutions for long-lasting change in the face of re-imaging a new social contract with each other and the larger diaspora. She asserts, as does Rivera Consulting, Inc. that healing is a fundamental part of deep democracy, because it addresses intergenerational trauma and/or poverty as the starting point for social change. Cassandra’s work supports clients and communities to explore this space as a liberation tool for their voices to emerge and Rivera Consulting, Inc. uses this insofar it helps build trust needed for social change and cross sector collaborations.

Marginalized voices are often in spaces that are isolated from discussions and plans to build political power, which proliferates inequality and profit for a select few. In the days that followed Hurricane Maria, which made landfall in Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, the intergenerational effects of colonization and privatization of public services were shown to the world while the American government delayed their response. Unlike Mexico, where an earthquake of an estimated magnitude of 7.1 hit the night before Hurricane Maria, international aid arrived quickly. Puerto Ricans were isolated from international relief due to the Jones Act, a federal law that regulates maritime commerce in the United States. Only Congress can repeal the Jones Act and because Puerto Ricans cannot vote in congressional or presidential campaigns, it is critical to the engage American politicians and the diaspora continue to create change.

The word Hurricane (huricán) is a word that is indigenous to the Taíno language in Borikén (Puerto Rico), which is an archipelago of islands, not a single island, that includes Vieques and Culebra. While disaster capitalism is a manmade response to a natural event and what is necessary to healing is unique to each person, there is a shared struggle that the residents of Flint, Michigan, waters protectors in the Standing Rock movement, survivors of Hurricane Katrina, and people in the Merrimack Valley share. The Puerto Rican diaspora can play a big role in this change, however it must be led by the heart and supported by a strong infrastructure where deep democracy can flourish and center marginalized voices can create solutions given the space and resources. In the context of Puerto Rico, Cassandra explains:

“You can’t have a more just world without healing; simply put, because there is a finite amount of natural resources and we are extracting resources at a faster rate than the planet’s biological capacity for growth. When we are in right relationship to the land and remember that we are too apart of nature, we are reminded of our power to self-heal and regenerate.”

Another future is possible. It’s happening around us and in Latin America, where Rivera Consulting, Inc. has partnered with the MIT Community Innovators Lab (MIT-CoLab), AVACA and Conservatorio and embarked on a sustainable urban revitalization project in Santa Ana, Panama. Our approach, inspired by their work with the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative and our firm’s two Central Brooklyn based participatory action research projects (Brownsville, East New York, Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights, and East Flatbush), was to take an innovative urban American model and contextualize it. What’s in store for the future?

Stay tuned and make sure to vote on Election Day (Tuesday, November 6th).




Automated Economic Revolution: There is No Just Transition Without Community, Corporate Change Makers, and Academics

The automated economic revolution is here to stay and our ongoing collective failure to take this transition seriously places already marginal communities on the brink of living in a semi to permanent jobless and landless society. Ignoring it will only make existing disparities worst. At best, it is naïve to think that we can stop this transition by applying the same approach to breaking generations of poverty and addressing climate change to an automated economy. In some cases, those dedicated to eliminating poverty (upstream or downstream) have made more money studying its root causes and promoting the same solutions than transforming communities.

To transform communities requires moving beyond the conventional ladder of citizen participation and cross sector collaboration. Asset mapping, social change, and social change innovations are more effectively created with the people directly affected by poverty and other complex social social problems. To highlight this point is not to place blame or point fingers. It is to acknowledge what is not working and how many people are being left behind without access to basic needs. More importantly, it comes from the reality that change management in the 21st century must be multidimensional if it's going to be effective and help shape a just transition.

At Rivera Consulting, our theory of change is simple – the journey beyond the bell curve (see Figure 1):  We must build new systems of social change and collaboration to produce and shape a more inclusive government and people centered economy (see Figure 1).

 

  • What if corporations, which produce the most effective results (quantitative and qualitative) in our society – for good or for bad – became principal actors for sustainable urban revitalization?

  • What if we employed multi-dimensional social intervention and community empowerment strategies to transform community participation?

  • How can popular education learning hubs sustain community empowerment?

Figure 1: Organizational Life Cycle

Figure 1: Organizational Life Cycle

MIT Community Innovator Lab

MIT Community Innovator Lab

Our experience over the last two years at Rivera Consulting, Inc. with our ademic, nonprofit, and real-estate partners, has generated great case studies that help us advance all the questions above. Fundamentally we are exploring how value-based learning hubs can forge the foundation for short term to long term cross sector partnerships. We are learning and experimenting with how corporate change makers and community anchors may be better suited to become new protagonists for social change. Recently, we partnered with the Office of At-Large Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley and MIT Community Innovator Lab, to launch a bottom up policy development process for small business stakeholders in Greater Boston- a model that can substitute and transform the outdated model of citizen participation in the United States.  

We are driven by results and impact, as we offer community, academic, and corporate partners strategic operational change management processes, stakeholder management, and staff coaching (see Figure 1). Thought the use of asset mapping, we effectively partner with clients to create learning hubs that allows them to develop their own collective agency based on self-determination. This produces a paradigm shift needed to identify and develop their community’s assets while using their own solutions and developing trust to help project discovery with other public and private stockholders.  

At Rivera Consulting, Inc., deep democracy is an urban planning, political and social change tool kit that can support the paradigm shift necessary for a just transition.

 

 

 

 

Changing Minds and Hearts: Innovation in Asset Mapping

Asset mapping is not new. If you’re a sociologist, anthropologist, urban planner, or social scientist, you use some form of asset mapping to capture qualitative data. The application of asset mapping, in collaboration with indigenous leadership, can build the trust needed to produce new results. At Rivera Consulting, Inc. and NextShift, Inc., with the ongoing partnership from the MIT Co-Lab, we have co-developed an innovative asset mapping curriculum that combines best practices from the Bronx Community Development Initiative’s Economic Democracy Learning Center, popular education, social science, and participatory action research that supports social change agency, self-determination, sustainable community engagement and cross sector collaboration.  

As activist academics at Rivera Consulting Inc., asset mapping serves as an instrument for individual capacity building of a community to develop the collective agency, identifying and developing their community's assets and their own solutions. Our strategists serve the community through strategic planning, project discovery, development, and coaching to co-develop asset mapping tools that supports indigenous community leadership to co-develop and co-pursue their shared vision and tools. Even more important, it builds the physical and figurative space required for the cultivation of trust among people. If we want the work to live beyond reports, to replicate and sustain the work, it needs to live in the hands of communities and stakeholders with decision-making authorities. 

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Our recent and current clients, Community Care Brooklyn and Asociación de Vecinos y Amigos del Casco Antiguo (AVACA) are all living examples the of how asset mapping can be leveraged to change minds and hearts to impact policy and/or system transformation and change. Influenced by deep democracy, the asset mapping curriculum developed for each initiative uses mindfulness and popular education to reveal how our hearts contain knowledge that can incrementally unearth new ideas and approaches to complex social issues while simultaneously supporting the co-creation and co-development of community-led people centered research. For more information on both projects, visit Community Care Brooklyn and  Santa Ana Lidera

At Rivera Consulting Inc., asset mapping is an example of decolonizing social science for communities to lead their own change. We develop sustainable learning hubs, where the tougher work of relationship building, mistakes, and iteration manifest - cyclically at best. Ultimately, it’s about taking the asset mapping tool and infusing it with pedagogy, a heart, and an action plan. 

Movement Builders, Donors, and Philanthropists: Taking Over the Wheel and Flipping the Playbook!

The emergence and existence of white nationalism in our country signals a backwards turn to the right more abruptly than most of us want to admit to ourselves. But here we are. Aquí estamos. From my lived and professional experience, I know there is hope. Millennials, people of color, and unmarried women - the American Rising Electorate (ARE) - are the majority of the likely Democratic base at 59.2 percent. This movement at the ballot box  can usher a new era of civic participation and governance to rewrite the American social contract. Without this movement, we will not effectively address the current political climate or the tilted electoral map.

March 2018, Rivera Consulting Inc., at Groundswell Fund, talk and handout by Wilnelia Rivera lists federal (democratic primaries + red to blue) and governor’s races with women and people of color running in midterm elections. 

March 2018, Rivera Consulting Inc., at Groundswell Fund, talk and handout by Wilnelia Rivera lists federal (democratic primaries + red to blue) and governor’s races with women and people of color running in midterm elections. 

Deep democracy is the inherent belief that those at the margins should be at center and that the inclusion of all voices allows for a more complete view of the system. This inclusion takes the radical redistribution of power and privilege. It takes resisting cultural hegemony, taking over the ballot box, and winning governance power. This takes developing the political application of deep democracy.

Too often work in this space is often separate from discussions and plans to build political power. At Rivera Consulting, Inc., deep democracy opportunities exist in places across the country where you have the following synergy of factors: 501c3 and 501c4 organizations leading integrated voter engagement efforts, progressive ballot questions, coordinated donor and field coordination, exciting women and people of color running at all levels.

To me, it is clear that the breakdown in our democracy, its undemocratically distorted electoral maps and the emergence of Trump, require that we re-prioritize the political giving and spending that has contributed to this current landscape. Donor and philanthropists invest early and directly in organizations, operatives and strategists that work directly with the ARE we can increase its turnout. This also requires supporting and electing bold progressive candidates while transforming public debate, the electoral landscape, policy and the economy.

In order for deep democracy to be real, it also requires the professional development of the bench of director, strategists, experts, operatives, and justice warriors that will do this work. This is why, we must deepen relationship and partnerships with donors and philanthropists to explore, how we can co-build this infrastructure.

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For Maria’s List, we conducted national candidate outreach and campaign analysis, identifying ten states where new investments can be made in the 2018 midterm elections: Florida, Georgia, Michigan, Massachusetts, Maine, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Texas. For Groundswell Education and Action Fund, we aligned their current 501c3 and 501c grantmaking funds for integrated voter engagement with deep democracy opportunities across the country.

The next four years will be pivotal to us as a country. The mainstream media has us believing that if Democrats do not obtain a supermajority in Congress that we may not see our way out of this. The supermajority should not come at the further cost of our values or at the loss for the vulnerable and the ARE.

The rules of engagement in D.C. area different. We need a crop of fresh Democrats to be elected to work alongside seasoned members of Congress. That is why we are the senior campaign advisor to elect Ayanna Pressley for Congress (MA-07). Because as her campaign tagline states, change cannot wait.

Ultimately, if we are going to take the keys aways from the people that currently are driving us into deeper and darker ditches, we need to resist and rebirth a new political paradigm and landscape. To prepare to take over the wheel also requires and demands choosing equity by sharing power. That is the potential and possibility of deep democracy.

'Unbought and Unbossed': Creating New Opportunities and Getting Results

Six years ago, I walked away from professional politics. I was feeling burned out and tokenized. It was time to take a leap of faith and create the opportunities that the parochial underbelly of Massachusetts often designates for the establishment. I took my talents and vision as both a political strategist and urban planner to focus on policy intervention, planning, and social change education. 2017 was a culmination point in this journey and a successful year for our clients.

In Santa Ana, Panama, the agent curriculum developed developed for Conservatorio  and AVACA (called “Convocatorias para el aprendizaje del cambio social) was funded by the United States Embassy, unleashing a new sustainability initiative, Santa Ana Lidera. This initiative is anchored by my clients in addition to Voces Vitales, Futbol con Corazon, FXB and Fundacion Esparanza de San Felipe. 

In Brooklyn, we successfully completed a second asset mapping and participatory action research led by 50 high school and undergraduate students from Central Brooklyn for Interfaith Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, with a final report coming soon. What began as an experiment for Community Care Brooklyn in community-based research, has now become a permanent community engagement and cross sector collaboration strategy.

In Boston, we led the first all fare boarding pilot on the SL4/SL5 in coordination with the MBTA. (see Boston Globe: “All-door boarding made Silver Line buses move a little quicker.") In a matter of six weeks, Barr Foundation and our team of consultants hired outreach workers and designed a qualitative survey – supported by an integrated social media and communication campaign. Simultaneously, we launched a new pilot partnership program that will witness additional Gold Standard bus rapid transit pilots in Greater Boston while making the public policy case from the MBTA.

In Manhattan, we successfully designed a union dues campaign for the largest health care workers union in the country, 1199 Service Employees International Union.

In addition to watching my clients succeed, I also witnessed, along with other Americans of all stripes, mass youth-based and women of color led movements, a complicit Congress and an authoritarian President attack the fundamental values and institutions of our democracy. This unsettled me and brought me back to professional politics. The emergence of Trump did not begin in 2016, it is connected to decades of lost Democratic seats at the local, legislative, judicial and state level. This I know is true.

  • Democratic control of state legislative and governor’s offices is the lowest since the 1900s;

  • In 2008, Democrats controlled 59 percent of state legislatures, while now they control only 31 percent;

  • Looking at the same time period, Democrats held 29 governor’s offices, and now we only have 16;

  • Be wary of those that want to hold the Electoral College solely responsible. Democrats lost over 1,000 seats over the course of the Obama Administration, most of which did not involve the Electoral College;

  • Finally, by successfully redrawing districts, Republicans have tilted the electoral map to their benefit;

The good news, is that the work is underway to transform our country and Rivera Consulting, Inc. is at the forefront, emerging as leaders that will support this generation of change agents – whether it’s changing hearts, helping elect more Democratic women and people of color, or transformative policy change to create a more sustainable earth.

Invest in Your Team, If We Want To Win ....

Let's go in to my time capsule, the year is 2004. I am in a hotel conference room with dozens of other would be union organizers from across the country being taught labor history and the mastery of a one-on-one.  That week, in retrospect, ushered me into the movement. 

Early on in my organizing journey, I made two observations about the culture of the movement: professional development pipelines are limited overall and for women of color it's almost non-existent. 

If we want to make progress and win on social justice, we must invest in our team members.  This is my way and the Groundswell Fund (GF) way.  Through regularly scheduled coaching calls, I focus on skill building and IVE prep, planning, and execution for key staff members from New Voices (Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, and Cleveland), Mothering Justice (Detroit), and Women With A Vision (New Orleans). 

GF hosted it's bi-annual IVE convening, which brings together all organizations with coaches and  GF staff, in Petaluma, California. This year, I co-created a workshop training series, The Power of the One-on-One and Building a Strong Volunteer Program, for the most recent convening. The first helps IVE staff understand the strategic role of 1:1 beyond the "ask" and develop new skills in preparing, planning, and conducting a 1:1. The latter engages staff to reflect on challenges and opportunities related to traditional electoral and movement building campaigns. In doing so, the session is designed to help participants identify the best practices, systems and procedures that should be in place to support building a volunteer program.  

As a result, Women With A Vision and Mothering Justice have created a base definition that is now allowing them to put in place new procedures to support volunteer recruitment and data management. All organizations have revamped their scripts, incorporating best practices from the convening. Lastly, they also developed nine campaigns ranging from health care, criminal justice, affordable child care,  earned sick time, and local municipal elections. Two of these campaign are well underway and the next one kicks off next month. 

Now that we have returned to present day, the course of my time capsule, comes full circle. Yes, my role in the movement has evolved. Instead of running campaigns, I share my tactical, managerial, and emotional experience to invest in the leadership of women and women of color.   

Stay tuned for brief client updates this Fall!

People, Planning, and Politics: From Subscriber to Feature

Over the last few months, my clients have reached key milestones in the advancement of their work. This means that  I have logged many miles on foot, bus, train, taxis, and planes taking me from Petaluma, CA, Santa Ana and San Felipe, Panama, and now back again in Brooklyn.  My conference call line takes me to Detroit, Pittsburgh, and New Orleans while Boston, in fact, is the home base.

When I launched Rivera Consulting, Inc, two years ago, I believed steadfastly that my approach to people, planning, and politics is exactly what is needed and necessary to produce the results we need to achieve. Over the next two weeks, I will be highlighting interesting, important, and innovating stories from my clients that range from integrated voter engagement capacity building, learning hubs, tactical urbanism, and cross-sector driven innovations on issued related to bus rapid transit and sustainable development.

Spring rolled out with an invitation to be featured in the Boston Spirit Magazine's May/June issue in an annual piece called "Let Us Introduce You, ” which highlights LGTBQ people and allies making a splash in their respective industry and career. To think, that my work took me from a long time subscriber to a feature in New England’s largest and most prominent LGBTQ magazine - May/June issue. The article talks about my background and highlights my sources of inspiration.  In the interview, I shared the following when asked:  How do you view your role as a leader? 

“For a whole new generation of leaders...our view of leadership is different than traditional models. We don’t need to be the big boss to lead. I don’t need to be the CEO or president.You don’t even need to see my face! People are breaking things apart and finding different forms of leadership: decentralized models where people step up and step back depending on when you need to lead. That’s different than previous generations and cult-of-personality leaders. There’s a higher consciousness.”

I share this, yes, as a shameless plug for my work, but more importantly, as a reminder that leadership and collaboration in this century, must look, feel, and talk vastly different. As I publish the upcoming body of work, this is the thread that ties and frames my clients and my approach.

Why urban planning, engagement, and politics matter?

Gov. Cuomo’s $1.4 Billion Plan Targets Brooklyn in Fight Against Poor Health and Poverty

Too often as technocrats, organizers, and elected officials, we easily miss the strategic points of collaboration. My work with Next Shift's Collaborative focuses on identifying and leverage these points to enable transformative change. Last summer, Community Care Brooklyn (CCB), hired us to assemble a team of 28 young adults to engage in a Participatory Action Research (PAR) project to understand the community’s priorities for health creation, guided by a core question: “How do we mobilize the Brownsville and East New York communities to address the social, physical and environmental inequalities that affect health?Through a survey of 525 residents, the team explored the physical, mental, social, environmental and financial dimensions of health and developed a number of recommendations to lay the foundation for collective action.

The final report, titled, Healthy Brooklyn, Community Centered Study: Proposed Health and Wellness Interventions in Brownsville and East New York set the policy framework for Governor Cuomo's recent announcement. The recent announcement by Gover Cuomo is a result of CCB through our research coming to understand the impacts of social determinants of health and how to most effectively capture local community knowledge stakeholders and champions from the community, community-based and intuitional health providers, labor unions, the NYC Mayor's Office to the state capital chambers in Albany. "For too long investment in underserved communities has lacked the strategy necessary to end systemic social and economic disparity, but in Central Brooklyn those failed approaches stop today,” Governor Cuomo said. “We are going to employ a new holistic plan that will bring health and wellness to one of the most disadvantaged parts of the state."

 

We look forward to continuing our work with CCB as they look to implement near-term projects and as we launch a similar study with Interfaith Medical Center and Kingsbrook Jewish Medical Center, key providers in Central Brooklyn and CCB.

Stay tuned for more updates this summer!