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5 for Friday: Achieving Equity

August 4, 2017

In our penultimate post digging into an episode of Here to There, we're focused this week on equity. It's no accident that Equity is a topic we saved until late in the series. First and foremost, equity has been at the center of every episode of Here to There. One cannot think about livability and health outcomes and reshaping systems without putting equity at the forefront of your discussion, whether you call it by its name or not.

 

In addition to Equity being the constant companion of H2T, this was one of the more difficult episodes for which to obtain speakers. You know what marginalized people with a lengthy commute to a ten-hour shift working on their feet don't have time for? Coordinating schedules to record a podcast with two affluent white women. You know what marginalized people have no obligation to do? Explain their marginalization and put it on display for two affluent women and their podcast audience. You know whose "good intentions" marginalized people are wary of? Affluent white women with things like podcasts that talk about equity. You know who's fault that is? Affluent white women.

 

It is with that recognition that we are most appreciative to Ibrahim and Zac, who invited us and our listeners to join their 40 minute commute from Minneapolis' Phillips Midtown neighborhood to the Amazon fulfillment center in Shakopee and shared so much of their personal lives and experiences.

 

Getting time with Ravi Norman of Thor Companies was similarly a challenge. Turn out CEOs of successful minority-owned companies have busy schedules filled with things like creating transformational change and revitalizing underserved and underutilized communities. Fortunately, our persistence paid off.

 

If you haven't already, listen to episode nine of Here to There and then join me below for further thoughts on a very important topic.

  1. Via Brookings Institution - A collection of work that fits under the umbrella of Brookings' national initiative that's 'dedicated to promoting policies and strategies that unlock barriers to economic opportunity by race and place in America'. One very recent article that I'd point you to is this one which talks about the ways social mobility is hampered by 'glass floors'. CityLab has a great write-up on this topic as well.
     

  2. Via The Guardian - Spatial racism is usually related to infrastructure and the ways we put fences and walls (whether real or metaphorical) around groups to keep them in or out of certain places. For a current example of what this can look like, we turn to The Guardian's recent article covering what's going on in Cape Town, SA, where activists are calling for an end to 'spatial apartheid' that's been the result of gentrification and rising living costs.
     

  3. Via WaPo - In this excellent long-form piece, you get an inside look at what happens when jobs aren't where people want to be. In this case, the story takes place in Janesville, WI, where an automotive production plant comes to a halt after eight decades of building General Motors vehicles, leaving profound economic, interpersonal, and mental health effects on those left behind.
     

  4. Via MinnPost - As you heard in the commute portion of the podcast, it's not easy to get from Minneapolis to Shakopee for a 10-hour shift. Zac originally used public transit to get to work and found that it took upwards of three hours/day and he frequently slept on the train he took between Mall of America and Minneapolis due to exhaustion from his daily trip. In this MinnPost article, the author attempts to get to the fulfillment center in Shakopee via public transit and has a tough time, even on express routes that seem to clearly connect from A to B. 
     

  5. Via HBR - This article may be from 1995 but its thesis is as spot-on today as it was then: "We must stop trying to cure the problems of the inner city by perpetually increasing social investment and hoping for economic activity to follow." 
     

We'll be back next week to recap our last episode of Here to There which should be out early next week. In the meantime, catch up on episodes you missed by visiting the podcast website, and if you're feeling like you'd enjoy a print periodical, may we suggest this month's issue of Minnesota Business? 

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