Welcome back to The Black Urbanist Weekly. I’m Kristen Jeffers and I’m currently producing this weekly digital newsletter on my site, via email and various other places,to share my thoughts, my Black, Spiritual, Southern, Working-Class, Educated, Queer, Femme thoughts on how places and communities work. Think of this as my weekly column, sitting on your proverbial print paper’s editorial page or as so many other of your favorite newsletters do, in your inbox.
This is edition number #12 and I know I promised y’all an even deeper dive into how I’ve changed my views around gentrification. And if you were a Patreon supporter, you would have gotten this message on Friday, as usual. Head over there now, so you don’t miss a newsletter on its release day.
And I said it was coming this week. But as I go back and review my decade of work on the eve of celebrating 10 years of The Black Urbanist in October of 2020, I realize it’s not so much my beliefs have changed as much as I’ve started to really embody my beliefs. That the intentions I set for myself and our communities in 2010 and 2014, are even stronger, prouder, equitable and inclusive than they were then.
I point out 2014 because that’s when I collected my thoughts for the first time and put them in a book.
A book that I kinda hid from the world because I thought I wasn’t enough.
I wasn’t credentialed enough.
I wasn’t respectable enough.
I wasn’t old enough.
And a whole lot of other insecurities and issues.
But, before the end of the month, I’ll be re-releasing it, in its imperfect state, available for you to cherish and criticize (and order in wholesale).
Because things have changed and I’m looking forward to dedicating my 2020 to breaking down not just how I’ve grown in this book in my theory and practice of being a friend of cities, but adding in more content and resources to support those already building out this vision.
Because we can’t wait any longer to do the right thing in our communities.
And I’m done waiting to do the right thing myself.
Right now this is my full-time job. Some of you are sitting here still asking yourselves and me why not go work for one of the institutions that I discuss on here? Why not split your time and then continue to do this until it builds up.
Next week, I’ll be doing a review of my book from my perspective five years later, along with sharing the final cover and places to purchase and order the book. I will also be touring with this and the forthcoming second book in 2020, so please mark your calendars and plan to join me in a place near you.
Other Things on My Mind
First, something very weighty and something I studied back in the 8th grade for a class project and that I would often bring up during my bike tours here in DC when I would take people to Capitol Hill and sometimes the FDR memorial– what the US Government did to Japanese immigrants and their U.S. born descendants during World War II. This article speaks to how they used craft and art to bring some dignity to the injustice in their lives.
On a much lighter note– you can never have enough music from my home state and because these artists have incorporated several notable NC places into these performances of their work.
And more on music as #spotifywrapped always gets it right with me music-wise. Been with them since 2011 and no signs of changing.
If Pinterest and The Knot could tamp down search results on former plantations as wedding venues, imagine what this could do over on Zillow, Yelp, Redfin and others that allow people to find places, and sometimes find them for the wrong reasons.
The kind of article that motivates my media making, that straddling between the objective and the subjective. When I read this I still hear Dorothy Butler Gilliam telling me and others that the black press is an activist press.
And finally, several of you have sent me or tagged me information about Kansas City starting the process of going fare-free on buses. Here’s that 435 Magazine article, which links to prior coverage and debate on this issue and Transit Center’ argument against fare-free transit.
Here’s where I stand on this– anything can be done. I know that sounds simplistic, but seriously, we’ve all seen votes do all kinds of things for our “commons” life. Good and bad. In this particular case, there’s precedent from how the streetcar is funded. They did a use tax on downtown parking lots and downtown businesses.
This is not un-similar to how developers built communities, then built streetcars to serve them in the 19th and 20th centuries.
How this can apply to our modern systems is simple– the whole program can be re-budgeted on the government side and new taxes and fees can be assessed on the citizen-side. So no, it’s not quite fare-free, it’s just that the average solo customer won’t be paying for their bus system twice anymore. Instead, you shift the burden to businesses, the government and ideally, dividends and endowments created from business taxes. This can be done on a progressive scale and it does require major corporations that have been opting out of being taxed, to pay back in.
I feel like the Transit Center article missed several opportunities to argue for fee-free transit, especially on the account of low-income riders. They sort of do at the end, but not before paragraphs of why this didn’t work. They also cite a handful of low-income riders they surveyed with no indication of how race, actual income and resource levels (which can vary even among the poor), gender identity and presentation and the jursidiction they live in makes a difference in how and where they ride.
They also claim that no other US city has managed to fund some form of transit for free. Maybe not every route or every system, but to the average rider, as long as it comes on time and frequently, no one’s really thinking about where the money’s coming from, unless it’s coming out of your pocket and more of it than normal or equiable is coming out your pocket.
Having been on the ground in KC, I think this can be done. But, I do hope they and others who consider doing so are careful with implementation.
Before You Go
—Check out the job board. Additionally, as I work on improving the public job board, I’ve seen your clicks and I’ve added two new Patreon levels—Opportunity Seeker and Opportunity Maker. Opportunity Seeker allows you to get one resume/cover letter/portfolio/proposal critique and I’ll be sending out the email version of the jobs update to those of you who pledge at this level. You’ll also be able to take the web version of my course How to Communicate in the Modern World, for free. Opportunity Maker allows you to place your job listing at the top of those Opportunity Seeker emails and your firm/agency/organization can hold exclusive webinars with the Opportunity Seekers—which you can treat like similar events on college campuses or at conferences—but virtual!
—Check out Kristpattern on Instagram and DM me if you’re interested in anything for sale over there. The holidays are here, folks. And these are great black queer woman-owned gifts you can give this season!
— Let me come and talk to you about killing your civic-inferiority complex before the holidays or in 2020 or beyond Book me for a lecture, workshop or both. Also Les, my wonderful life partner and sales director is great at hyping you up, making you laugh and helping you or your organization make radical changes in your life and health Book her too. And listen to my wonderful podcast mentee’s The Crossroads Podcast, which also discusses environmental issues from a black woman’s perspective.
—Finally, even if you aren’t in the job or opportunity market or have jobs and opportunities to post, I’ve refreshed all my Patreon levels. All of you are at least at the $1 a month level, which is why you’re seeing this newsletter. $5 allows you to ask me one question a month that I will research and answer in-depth and make part of a permanent Q&A, $10 gives you first dibs when the podcast relaunches and when we start doing live events again.$20 grants you digital copies of all my future books. $50 gets you something free out of the Kristpattern store. Learn more and upgrade!
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