"Unaffordable cities: this criminal lack of housing is a global scandal
A basic lack of homes is taking a terrible urban toll – affordability is social justice. Our only choice is to build, build, build
Alec Steffen. February 10, 2014
The first time I heard the story, I have to admit, I didn’t believe it. A friend was apartment hunting and – despite being employed, personable and trustworthy – was having a difficult time finding a place. After a few weeks, she was invited to a “pre-showing”, where landlords show the apartment to a select group of prospective tenants before having an open house.
The apartment was perfect, if expensive: think hardwood floors, lots of light, high ceilings. She was smitten. As she was strolling through what she thought might become her new home, however, a man in hip clothes walked up to the landlord and said, “I’ll give you a year’s rent, in advance”. Needless to say, she did not get the unit.
As I say, I was sceptical. Then I heard basically the same story again, from a completely different source, about a completely different apartment. Then I heard a version of it about a flat in London, another about a competitor bribing a rental agent in New York, and another about the strategy of the pre-listing offer, where deep-pocketed tenants make generous bids to the owners of buildings where workers are making major repairs, to secure places that may soon be available before other tenants can even see them.”
Photo: San Francisco’s Chinatown - one of the most densely populated parts of the city. Photograph: Michael Layefsky/Flickr Vision
The ocean is full of waste produced by humans, and beaches often end up collecting the debris that washes ashore, which is unsightly and potentially deadly to marine animals. While cleanup initiatives have the obvious benefit of ridding trash from coastlines, the recyclable waste can also be used for creating products and opportunities. In the past we’ve seen schemes in the UK develop the Sea Chair — a stool made entirely of trash trawled from the ocean — and now Plastic Bank is enabling those participating in beach cleanups in Peru to exchange their help for training, micro-loans and access to 3D printing facilities. READ MORE…
"There really are two kinds of food entrepreneurs," says venture capitalist Paul Matteucci, who encourages and connects food-tech upstarts through his not-for-profit, Feeding 10 Billion. “There are the ones that hang around Berkeley or Brooklyn, and build businesses mostly for the end consumer. Then there is a whole different group of highly technical people who are building robotics for the field, sensor-based technology, automated watering systems, new food-packaging technologies, and big-data-related inventory control to reduce waste.” These, he says, are “the people who are going to solve the big problems.”
A raft of entrepreneurs and venture capitalists made their money in tech, and now want to do something with an even longer-lasting impact. Meet the Silicon Valley companies trying to fix our broken food system
Crowdfunders are more social than traditional entrepreneurs
Scholars studying entrepreneurship find that less than 30% of traditional entrepreneurs maintain direct or indirect ties with investors or customers. This stands in contrast to crowdfunding entrepreneurs who report maintaining regular and direct contact with their financial supporters during and after their campaign. This includes responding to questions, seeking feedback on prototypes, and posting weekly progress updates.
"The original concept, developed by Istvan Kissaroslaki from Hungary many years ago, hadn’t been able to go to market without substantial financial backing. But in 2010, Stacy Zoern, an American lawyer disabled from a muscle disease, came across the Kenguru online and thought it was just what she needed. Zoern eventually convinced Kissaroslaki to move the company to Austin, Texas. The pair has been aggressively pursuing investors ever since."