Since this event is the same day as we publish, I need to find the words that will get you to change your direction and head to Grand Valley State University's downtown campus tonight for a chance to hear a speaker who is going to rock your world and all that you know.
For starters, Caroline Woolard raised $1 million in less than two weeks via 300 people on a crowd-funding site who pledged to create New York's Real Estate Investment Cooperative (REIC).
As part of a growing movement of artists in the world looking to address the issue of displacement, Woolard's message is quite possibly the flashpoint intersection that the creative community has been waiting for over the last 50 years.
According to Woolard, "The idea of the REIC is that people pool money in cooperative investment group(s) and these investment groups buy buildings and lease them affordably or make very low interest loans available to others to buy or renovate property for community-serving uses. The ultimate property owners would be community land trusts set up to manage the land and cooperatives and non-profits set up to manage the assets on the land."
This process brings a new level of engagement to our community business districts and the urban spaces that artist inhabit, and it could enable better control of the kind of place the community hopes to be. Imagine a few co-operatives on your street and you can visualize the powerful connections such a program would bring to a community.
The lecture is titled "Artists for Community Land: making real estate work for innovation, art, and economic justice" and Woolard will be engaging the audience on her experiences and the impact of rent, debt, and precarity on culture in an urban setting experiencing growth. Woolard is a guest of GVSU's Visual Studies department.