Stories From Behind the Fog

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NewCo Shift Forum

What is it truly like to be homeless? Arjanna van der Plas finds the humanity behind our shared misconceptions


Arjanna van der Plas is a writer and designer who focuses her work on the stories of homelessness in the San Francisco bay area. In this talk, one of five Shift Ignite sessions held earlier this year at the Shift Forum, van der Plas brings us into the world occupied by the human beings forced into life without a true sense of belonging.

Arjanna van der Plas: Hi, my name is Arjanna. My talk is about the invisible wisdom that I found in the city. Imagine going through a day where nobody looks you in the eyes. You wake up, nobody wishes you good morning. You walk through the city and everybody ignores you, or even avoids you.

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How Can We Keep Artists In Our Cities?

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NewCo Shift Forum

Moy Eng has a market-based answer worth understanding


Moy Eng, Executive Director of the Community Arts Stabilization Trust, gives one of five Shift Ignite talks earlier this year at the Shift Forum. Our cities are losing their artists as the flight back to urban centers has driven rents beyond their reach. What can be done? This five minute Ignite talk has some answers.

Moy Eng: Hi. They say that you are who you really will be, at the age of seven. Here I am at the age of seven, bright, eager to please, and wanting to make parents and my teachers proud at my first Holy Communion.

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These “Laws” Will End Driving In America

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We’re going Spongebob on this article… something to spice up the legalese.

Ask anyone with a vested interest in denouncing self-driving cars, and they’ll spout off a sound bite about the piles of legislation standing in the way of this technology’s growth. Be it repealing old laws or drafting new ones, the pace of government can only be accelerated so much by lobbyist dollars.

But ask them a second question: “what laws in particular?”

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This is how Big Oil will die

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From WHMP / clipart.com

It’s 2025, and 800,000 tons of used high strength steel is coming up for auction.

The steel made up the Keystone XL pipeline, finally completed in 2019, two years after the project launched with great fanfare after approval by the Trump administration. The pipeline was built at a cost of about $7 billion, bringing oil from the Canadian tar sands to the US, with a pit stop in the town of Baker, Montana, to pick up US crude from the Bakken formation. At its peak, it carried over 500,000 barrels a day for processing at refineries in Texas and Louisiana.

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Open Streets Four Ways

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It’s the time of the year again when the sun is out and the streets are alive. From festivals to block parties — and my favorite, open streets — there’s just something about summer that makes a city more vibrant and human scale.

Philly Free Streets, the city’s first open streets event in 2016 (Photo by Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman)

Open streets events in particular are important in more ways than one. Not only do they showcase streets as public spaces — as some of the largest public spaces we have in cities — but they provide a demonstration of ownership of space and remind us all that we have the right to the city in how we play, get around, and prioritize people over cars. More than this, they provide the incentives and cultural shift necessary to make lasting improvements to our urban landscapes.

In the past year I’ve been lucky enough to take part in several different iterations of open streets events across the country. In my observations of these events I noticed some interesting similarities as well as differences — in part due to geography perhaps, maybe even population, or just the preferences of the open streets coordinators. Coming from the perspective of an uninformed participant*, I’ve summarized my observations and the basic information for four open streets events, ranging from the Mission District in San Francisco, to Philadelphia, PA.

Open Street #1: Sunday Streets SF in the Mission District

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NewCo Miami Is A Go!

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Knight Foundation, M+D partner to bring the NewCo festival to Miami’s shores


Miami is one of the key bridges to Latin America and a place of great diversity, in business and entrepreneurship as well as culture. Today we’re proud to announce Miami will become the latest city on the NewCo global tour, joining the ranks of more than 15 cities hosting NewCo festivals through early 2018. NewCo Miami will be held in February 2018.

Miami is the home of Knight Foundation, which is supporting the launch of NewCo in their backyard to further their goals of community and business engagement in South Florida. The goal is to foster a startup culture, open to the broader community, that helps make Miami more of a place where ideas are built.

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How Our Technology Choices Today Create the Future

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An extract from Driver in the Driverless Car , which is about the amazing and scary future we are creating.


It is a warm autumn morning, and I am walking through downtown Mountain View, California, when I see it. A small vehicle that looks like a cross between a golf cart and a Jetsonesque bubble-topped spaceship glides to a stop at an intersection. Someone is sitting in the passenger seat, but no one seems to be sitting in the driver seat. How odd, I think. And then I realize I am looking at a Google car. The technology giant is headquartered in Mountain View, and the company is road-testing its diminutive autonomous cars there.

This is my first encounter with a fully autonomous vehicle on a public road in an unstructured setting.

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Kushner ‘SWAT Team’ Will Target Bureaucracy With Tech Luminaries

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The NewCo Daily: Today’s Top Stories

Ryan Johnson | Wikimedia Commons

Ever since Bill Clinton tapped Al Gore to “reinvent government” along business-savvy lines, every new administration has ritually announced the same kind of effort: We will form a commission, and it will tap the collective genius of the American corporate world, and we will use that know-how to modernize the public sector’s backward bureaucracies!

Now it’s Donald Trump’s turn. His son-in-law, real-estate heir Jared Kushner, will lead the new White House Office of American Innovation (The Washington Post). It will be “a SWAT team of strategic consultants…staffed by former business executives and designed to infuse fresh thinking into Washington, float above the daily political grind and create a lasting legacy for a president still searching for signature achievements.” The list of the office’s advisers is tech-heavy, including names like Tim Cook, Bill Gates, Mark Benioff, and Elon Musk, and the work is expected to focus on privatization of services and functions now performed directly by the government.

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Calling for a Union of Cities

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Cities & local communities should form networks of mutual support across regions to defend progressive values

In a previous piece on conscience & moral imperative in the Trump era, I promised to follow up with some specifics about my particular approach to the present & future struggle.

Short Note on Conscience in the Trump Era

This current piece outlines a major focus of that work. The premise is this:

Cities & local communities of conscience must join together to support each other, oppose Trumpism & Trumpublicans, & defend the progressive values that have made us the engines of human civilization for all of history. ¹ ²

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Do Startups that Scale Lose Their Soul?

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Excerpt from “The Airbnb Story

Airbnb, Approaching IPO, Could Face an Identity Crisis

Photo: Airbnb Open 2016 — Trips Keynote.

Whenever Airbnb does choose to make its entry into the public markets, there’s one group of people outside of Wall Street that will be paying close attention: some of Airbnb’s hosts. There’s no doubt that many of the millions of Airbnb hosts will see the occasion as a victory and an important milestone for the company that has afforded them an income stream. But some are starting to feel that they should get some shares, too. They helped build the business, after all, and they control the product and experience that makes the entire platform possible.

Hans Penz and his wife rent out two rooms in their house in Staten Island, New York. Penz, thirty-eight, is a baker and originally started hosting as a way to raise money to grow his business; now, the couple do it because they like the extra income and having people from all over the world stay with them. Penz loves hosting and is one of those people who genuinely believes Airbnb “is making the world a better place.” He also feels that hosts, or at least the most engaged hosts, should be able to get pre-IPO shares. “The hosts are the company,” he says. He says he’s talked about this with other hosts and with the company. He says that if he were one of the company’s existing investors, “I would definitely ask the company how they’re going to make sure hosts stay with Airbnb and don’t decide to start their own business.” When I ask Chesky about this issue, he says the company has looked into it and talked about it internally. He says it’s hard to give a million people equity in the private market, where every investor must be given access to the company’s financials. “It’s not without its complications.” This same issue came up way back when eBay went public, but that company in the end did not end up granting shares to its sellers.

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