I’m with the Banned

I am a big fan of Spotify especially here in the Root + Branch office. Sometimes a good jam session is completely necessary to keep your day moving. Spotify recently released a timely project entitled: I’m with the Banned. And I’m encouraging everyone to give it a listen!

Spotify launched the playlist and original series, as a music initiative to empower artists and fans from different cultures to collaborate. By coupling the music of banned nations with American voices, Spotify is “amplifying the voices of people and communities that have been silenced.”

The series focuses on issues that range from immigration to LGBTQ equality through artist collaborations, performance and original content.

 

As Spotify explains, “The artists featured in “I’m with the banned” break stereotypes, bend genres and approach their art with open ears. Artists include:

  • Kasra V – DJ and record producer hailing from Iran and specializing in techno/deep house, he hosts a bi-weekly radio show on NTS Radio and is a curator of the Dance playlist for 22Tracks
  • Moh Flow – Singer/songwriter from Syria who co-produces with his brother, AY. While residing in Dubai and traveling the world, the 25-year-old has had the chance to harness his music making skills to release music consistently over the Internet.
  • Waayaha Cusub – A Somali musical collective that organized the first international music festival in Somalia’s capital since the start of the civil war in the early 90s.
  • Methal – Yemeni singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist, who learned to play by watching American YouTube videos.
  • Sufyvn – Acclaimed producer/beatmaker whose electronic tracks blend American hip-hop and traditional Sudanese music.
  • Ahmed Fakroun – Singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist from Libya and pioneer of modern Arabic Music, influenced by Europop and French art rock.”

 

Happy Listening!!!

 

-L

Chaffetz finds out D.C. is expensive.

You might have heard recently,  congressman Jason Chaffetz (R-UT-3) suggested in an interview with The Hill,  that Congressmen should receive a housing stipend of $2,500 per month (or $30,000 per year). He reasoned, that “D.C. is one of the most expensive places in the world, and I flat-out cannot afford am mortgage in Utah, kids in college and second place in the here in D.C.”

For many of DC natives, this comment sounded quite tone-deaf, as residents making far less than US Congressmen, with far less power than US Congressmen are barely holding on to their housing as it is. Not to mention, U.S. Congressmen, like Chaffetz have refused to give Washington, D.C. full power in the U.S. Congress, despite Congress having full control over D.C.’s budget. Members of Congress earn a $174,000 annual salary, which is nearly twice as much as the DC Metro’s median household income.

The recognition of the skyrocketing housing costs, without any recognition of the impact on DC residents felt like an extra striking blow. Enterprise pointed out that:

“Now that these Members of Congress understand that the rental housing market has changed significantly since they were first starting out on their own, they should take a hard look at the housing needs of their constituents. Members of Congress who truly understand and care about housing affordability in this country must reject the president’s budget proposals and instead provide robust funding for housing and community development programs.”

Read more from Enterprise, about actions we can take to help preserve affordable housing for average D.C. residents.

Guide to not being Complicit with Gentrification

I know this article says its a guide for “artists” but actually many of the tips are valuable for anyone who is at risk of being a “gentrifier.” Not sure if that applies to you there’s a quick way to think about it: Did you grow up in the neighborhood you’re living in?  If not, now ask yourself: are the people that did grow up here being displaced because of affordability or housing stock? If yes, you are likely living in a gentrifying (or gentrified) neighborhood.

But that doesn’t mean you have to be a part of the problem. In fact, there are ways you can be part of the solution, immediately.

Read on. It’s worth it.

Let me summarize it for you though:

  1. put your privilege to work for others.
  2. Respect the history of your surroundings.
  3. do not assume your perspective or experience is universal or most important.

 

Tell us how you mitigate gentrification in your neighborhood.

Good White People

This is an interesting short film about the Over the Rhine neighborhood in Cincinnati, Ohio. When considering policy, investment and real estate, we must think through the consequences and impact of our decisions.

Are we displacing successful communities to “improve” areas?

Is that really improvement?

Teaching Students How to Revitalize Their Communities

When we work in communities, we always strive to help build the capacity of local community leaders. Whether that’s through connecting them with resources we know about, or introducing them to other community partners, or transferring skills, our goal is to help communities grow strong and resilient. the foundation of that growth is local community leadership.

Yes! Magazine highlighted a fascinating non-profit, Community Learning Partnership, that is creating college programs that couples classroom work with hands on experience as change agents in their community. CLP provides students, instructors, and community groups a model for preparing local leaders and activists. These college programs “offer fledgling community organizers ‘a sense of optimism about how they can effect change in their own backyard.'”

Programs like CLP are expanding the role of college in communities and building leadership capacity as well. Read more about this fantastic work in Yes! Magazine’s article Where They Teach Students How to Revitalize Their Local Communities. 

Sharing the Benefits of Solar in DC: Georgetown University

We are thrilled to announce the launch of our first project through the Neighborhood Solar Equity initiative. We have partnered with community centered solar developer, Community Renewable Energy to install 1.1 mW on Georgetown’s campus, making it one of the largest on site solar arrays in Washington, D.C.

Through an innovative project model the system will produce renewable energy for the University and amplify the benefits of solar for the District of Columbia.

We created the model to serve the energy needs of the University, while also ensuring the surrounding neighborhoods benefit from the renewable energy. Profits from the system have been dedicated by the partners toward reinvestment in DC neighborhoods, including through a “Community Investment Fund” which, in collaboration with Georgetown University, will support clean energy projects in low-income areas of the District.

The project is expected to generate about 1.5 million kilowatt-hours of power each year, contributing to a cleaner electric grid and offsetting an estimated 25,506 US tons of CO2 in it’s lifetime, which is the equivalent of planting 593,300 trees in D.C. Installed at no cost to the university, the project is expected to save the university over $3 million on energy costs over 20 years.  Furthermore, it’s anticipated to catalyze over $1.5 million more in local community investment.

Read more about our Neighborhood Solar Equity initiative, access the Georgetown University Solar- Press Release 4.22.17, or read more from our friends at Georgetown.