“Overcoming poverty is not a task of charity, it is an act of justice. Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the acts of human beings.” – Nelson Mandela
Justice rather than charity; solutions instead of complaints. This was the tone of Greenlining Institute’s Economic Summit that I had the pleasure of attending last week in Oakland, CA. Focused on ensuring that communities of color are able to participate and thrive in the new economy, the event covered everything from financial services to health to energy policy. It was a refreshingly holistic approach to what are deep and persistent problems facing minorities in our state and across the nation. Among the more compelling ideas I heard were:
- Modernizing California’s Lifeline Phone service (subsidized phone lines for low-income Californians) to include mobile phones and SMS texting.
- A hackathon for Black Male achievement – with a long term goal of “an empathy spillover”
- Developing apps for gaming consoles (X-Box, Playstation) to connect young people who are absent from school to their homework – no email required.
- Installing solar panels on schools in low-income neighborhoods to reduce electricity use among the most under-resourced schools.
- Embedding internet cable in the high speed rail lines to provide quality internet access for rural communities –to facilitate technology that allows plants to communicate when they need to be watered.
Technological change is moving quickly and all too often people get left behind. Here’s to all the innovators working hard to make sure our state lives up to its promise of opportunity for all.