“What matters is not whether the government’s budget is in surplus or deficit but whether the government is using its budget to achieve good outcomes for the rest of the economy.” — Stephanie Kelton @StephanieKelton
The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory and the Birth of the People’s Economy

Deficit Myth (2)I finished The Deficit Myth a few weeks ago. My paradigm has shifted and so will yours when you read this pivotal book. I’ve written book reviews before but have been wrestling with how to best capture this momentous theory and how it can reshape our collective aspirations for politics at this urgent time.

Over a 46-year vocation for community development, there have been numerous times, including now, when “limited” resources have curtailed initiatives for a #JustEconomy. Thanks to Stephanie Kelton, I now realize that the prevailing political lens was not only wrong but even intentionally obscured. “It is counterintuitive to define full employment as a certain level of unemployment,” Kelton observes. “To put it crudely, the Fed uses unemployed human beings as its primary weapon against inflation.”

I have been a Fed watcher since my first job working for Gale Cincotta, mother of the federal Community Reinvestment Act [CRA], put me in the Federal Reserve Board room with her, over a dozen diverse community leaders and Fed Chairman Paul Volcker in 1980. As far as I’m concerned, Janet Yellen is the only Fed Chair who fully embraced its dual mandate to pursue both maximum employment and stable prices.

Community Development has been subject to decades of malign neglect by monetary policy that has discouraged affordable reinvestment. Kelton and Modern Monetary Theory [#MMT] advocate for fiscal policies that provide a federal job guarantee. “Involuntary unemployment will disappear. Anyone seeking paid employment has guaranteed access to a job at a rate of remuneration established by the federal government.”

Individuals, families, communities and our economy will benefit. MMT reveals a future built around a “care economy.” The federal government would fund “jobs that are aimed at caring for our people, our communities, and our planet.” Clearly not a priority of a Republican controlled Senate and White House.


True in October 1976 & 2020

But here’s the crux of the paradigm shift: a deficit of another trillion dollars should not be the relevant issue before Congress today. In a pandemic, its warped lens are condemning Americans to more unemployment, homelessness, inadequate education, rampant climate change, and COVID deaths. These are “The Deficits That Matter” {Chapter 8}.

“By shifting the discussion of budgeting from its focus on debt and deficits to one that focuses on the deficits that matter, MMT gives us the power to imagine a new politics and a new economy, moving us from a narrative of scarcity to one of opportunity.”

Kelton reminds us the reason we are confronted with these real deficits: “It’s the deficit between the few and the many; between the powerful and the powerless; between those with voice and those without. It’s our democracy deficit.” In “Building an Economy for the People” {Chapter 9}, Kelton exhorts us to pursue multiple policies with the MMT lens to harness the power of Congress to build an economy that works for all. But for that to happen, our understanding of the economy has to change. The public debate must shift.

So embrace this “Copernican moment.” For the sake of your family, your community, and your country, read this book.

“Through the MMT lens, we can see an alternative and more hopeful set of possibilities. It’s our future. It’s our economy. And it’s our monetary system. We can make it work for us.” — Stephanie Kelton



You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye

So much stormy weather since the Memorial Day murder of George Floyd…. Resistance signOne can only wonder the forecast between Independence Day and Labor Day and then before Election Day, now less than four months away.

Thought about Stephen Stills’ 1966 lyrics For What It Is Worth: “Young people speaking their minds; Getting so much resistance from behind.” Unfortunately, I assume there will be other events to use those lyrics in a future blog.

Other flashbacks only accentuate the struggles across centuries against systemic racism and more recent decades of redlining. Chicago’s NPR reporters updated this sad and unjust history last month with story on the shocking disparity that remains prevalent in lending between white areas and communities of color.

Follow-up story @lindalutton this past week on community groups calling on Chicago to donate city-owned lots to build 2,000 single-family homes on the South and West sides — an obvious start on reparations for decades of public and private disinvestment. Affordable housing that can also create local jobs with career potential for thousands.

Such research and proposed solutions have been published before. The political will has always been lacking. There can no longer be excuses or inaction or insufficient perfunctory attempts.  Deficit Myth

I’m in the middle of reading The Deficit Myth: Modern Monetary Theory & the Birth of the People’s Economy @StephanieKelton. In Chapter 4: Their Red Ink is Our Black Ink, she urges us to change our lens and the national paradigm. Deficits “can be used to sustain life & build a more” #JustEconomy.

All those community rebuilding investments that we have advocated for so long can be seeded by our own federal government. To date, our elected officials have not understood this or have opposed it in their furtherance of racist inequality.

When you’re standing in the eye, there are more storms heading our way. Stay Safe. Be Mighty.

I am a sturdy soul
And there ain’t no shame
In lying down in the bed you made
Can you fight the urge to run for another day?
You might make it further if you learn to stay
I wrapped your love around me like a chain
But I never was afraid that it would die
You can dance in a hurricane
But only if you’re standing in the eye

Songwriters: Timothy Hanseroth / Phillip Hanseroth / Brandi Carlile



Some visitors tasted our Newfoundland Screech
Tipped up the bottle drank 6 ounces each
And they let out a yell as they ran for our beach
Thank God we’re surrounded by water.

The sea, oh the sea, the wonderful sea
Long may she roll between nations and me.
So everyone here should get down on one knee
And thank God we’re surrounded by water!

Check out YouTube link above

Lynne & I finally did our first Road Scholar trip this August. As usual, we chose to head north to avoid Chicago’s heat. We have enjoyed other Canadian visits to Nova Scotia, Quebec and New Brunswick. This time we went even further north and east to the province of Newfoundland and Labrador.NF Battle Harbour Sunset

Our Road Scholar guide and host, Tony Oxford, made our journey through this beautiful land even more outstanding. NF Tony OxfordSharing his personal life experiences furthered our learning about the local culture. His great music fostered quick cohesion among our group of 22 from around the US.

I sort of knew that Newfoundland was an island but appreciated its history of fishing and whaling even more as we all joined in thanking God we were surrounded by water. We had discovered Screech rum decades ago when visiting the Fortress of Louisbourg on Cape Breton in Nova Scotia. So we made sure to find it one morning at the local market before our bus moved on.

There were several “mauzy mornings.” Translation: cloudy and foggy. Tony would introduce a new word or Newfoundland saying each morning. The first “Whadda y’at?” translates as “What are you up to?” The appropriate response: “This is It!” I’m talking to you. Not sure if I got “swarving” right; maybe we were only swerving when we were on our own.

The highlights of our 10 days were numerous. My top 6 were:

1. Watching four whales feeding along the coast of St. Anthony’s

NF Whale 3

Photo Courtesy of Allan March

2. Red Bay UNESCO World Heritage Site on the history of Basque whaling industry in the 1500s.
3. Battle Harbour National Historic Site, the center of Labrador fishing for centuries.NF Battle Harbour
4. Western Brook Pond Fjord at the northernmost extension of the Appalachian Mountains.NF Western Brook Fjord
5. L’Anse-aux-Meadows National Historic Site where Leif Erickson first encamped.
6. Point Amour Lighthouse, tallest in Atlantic Canada.NF Point Amour Lighthouse


Another Newfoundland phrase we quickly embraced describes our visits perfectly as “Best Kind.”

Thanks to Tony, we and our new Road Scholar friends learned to sing with gusto another classic in Newfoundland culture:

I’ve done a lot of living and I’ve found
No matter where you go the whole world ’round
They always go together hand in hand
Where there’s one there’ll be the other, music and friends

If we take the time to make them
Nothing else can take the place
Of music and friends
Nothing makes the whole world right
Like music and friends

Check out YouTube link above



“It is tempting to divorce this modern campaign of terror, of plunder, from enslavement, but the logic of enslavement, of white supremacy respects no such borders. And the god of bondage was lustful and begat many heirs: coup d’états and convict leasing, vagrancy laws and debt peonage, redlining and racist G.I. bills, poll taxes and state-sponsored terrorism.” Ta-Nehisi Coates before US Congress, June 19, 2019

I had already decided to use “Plundered” for the title of this blog. But Ta-Nehisi placed it in an even broader context in his historic Juneteenth testimony on the necessity for our nation to discuss what steps should be taken toward restorative justice for Black communities, including the topic of reparations.

I had already been inspired by the May 30, 2019 Chicago Sun-Times story by Carlos Ballesteros: ‘Plunder of black wealth’:  Predatory housing contracts gouged Chicago’s black homeowners, new report says.

The report — “The Plunder of Black Wealth in Chicago: New Findings on the Lasting Toll of Predatory Housing Contracts — was produced by a dozen researchers from Duke, Loyola University, Roosevelt University and the University of Illinois at Chicago and published by Duke University’s Samuel DuBois Cook Center on Social Equity.

It is the first study to put a dollar amount on how much wealth was extracted from Chicago’s black community in the 1950s and 60s through home sale contracts. “The total amount expropriated from Chicago’s black community due to land sales contracts,” the report concludes, is anywhere “between $3.2 billion and $4 billion.”

Family Properties CoverI have blogged before about the predatory rip-off of “contract sales.” I noted Beryl Satter’s book “Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America” about the work of her father Mark Satter, an activist attorney seeking justice. I commented in December 2014 that in these current turbulent times “it merits remembering that justice has been sought for decades.” Ta-Nehisi Coates reminds us that it has been over 150 years.

Mark Whitehouse in his June 17, 2019 Bloomberg Opinion, Black Poverty Is Rooted in Real-Estate Exploitation, recaps the continued plundering in the 1970s. The federal government offered Federal Housing Administration [FHA] as an alternative loan that blacks assumed was a good product.  Instead it too was used by sleazy real estate brokers to “block bust” and sell shoddy homes to unsuspecting black buyers. Whitehouse cites the FHA scandal of the 1970s, in which indiscriminate federal lending and outright corruption enabled speculators to sell inner-city homes to blacks at inflated prices, resulting in widespread foreclosures.

cities-destroyed-for-cashThis is where the vicious cycle of plundering was when I began my organizing career in 1974. Whitehouse embeds in the word scandal above a link to Cities Destroyed for Cash: The FHA Scandal at HUD published in 1973. As a volunteer graduate student, I was inspired by Brian Boyer, who investigated and wrote this book, when he spoke to over 1,000 multi-racial community leaders from across the country gathered in a Chicago Catholic school hall.

When he was done, Gale Cincotta [a white ethnic Greek] told the extraordinarily for the time diverse crowd: “We have met the enemy and it is not us. It is our own government.” Witnessing the launch of a national movement, that would take on the American Bankers Association, the Federal Reserve Board and the US Department of Housing & Urban Development, was a career motivator. Having Gale as a mentor for over a decade was worth the PhD I never got.DISCLOSURE Sept 1974

Whitehouse embeds in the word enabled a link to a 2014 blog that quotes Beryl Satter from her book:

“The scandal involved the abandonment and ruin of over 240,000 units of housing nationwide—enough to house over one million people. In Detroit alone, more than 25,000 houses had been abandoned—about 10 percent of the city’s housing stock. The cost to the U.S. government was estimated at close to $4 billion, in preinflationary, early-1970s money.”

Most recently, we had the plundering of the subprime boom of the 2000s. Whitehouse justly condemns it for steering blacks into “inappropriately expensive loans that enriched a whole ecosystem of mortgage-industry professionals, but often left borrowers with nothing but an eviction notice and a bad credit history. In the wake of the subprime bust, investors including private-equity firms have again targeted the same neighborhoods, buying up houses on the cheap and renting them back to black and other minority tenants — sometimes under contracts very similar to those of the 1960s”

This Whitehouse embedded link takes us to Old Wine in Private Equity Bottles? The Resurgence of Contract‐for‐Deed Home Sales in US Urban Neighborhoods by former colleague Dan Immergluck from my years at the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations [CANDO].

Whitehouse opens his column with the question that every Presidential candidate should answer:

One question is — or should be — central to any assessment of the state of America: Why, more than a century and a half after slavery ended, does the typical black family remain so much poorer than the typical white family?

My answer: They continue to be plundered. It is in all of our interests as a nation “indivisible” for it to STOP to assure “justice for all!” That’s the country I pledged my allegiance to.


This has been a memorable month since my last blog posting. I completed four years as the CEO of the Institute of Cultural Affairs [ICA] and extended my employment as such for another 12 months. I would have to say it is even more stressful than when I first blogged about accepting the position. So I did renew my meditation classes this month. Yet, the prognosis for success at ICA-USA remains hopeful. 

I had dinner on April 2nd with two colleagues, Helen Murray and Ed Shurna, from my first job in Community Development 45 years ago when we all worked for Gale Cincotta fighting redlining and succeeding in passing the federal Community Reinvestment Act [CRA].

NTIC Staff 1980 (2)

Helen [center], Ed [behind her] & Yours Truly with hat & scarf.

Little did I know then in June 1974 when I transitioned from a volunteer grad student to launch Gale’s national newsletter DISCLOSURE, I would find myself still advocating for equitable development today.

As we had dinner, I followed Twitter feeds that Chicago had overwhelmingly elected Lori Lightfoot as Chicago’s Mayor. It was 35 years ago that I left working for Gale to become CEO of the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations [CANDO]. One reason, besides coming off the road for future family reasons, was to work full time in my home town with Harold Washington as Chicago’s first African-American Mayor. 

94 Ted & Harold

Little did I know then that when I first encountered ICA providing strategic planning for the City’s non-profit delegate agencies that I would find myself today promoting ICA’s Technology of Participation [ToP®] methods.

My third professional job in my community development career was at the Local Economic & Employment Development [LEED] Council, subsequently rebranded as North Branch Works. This CANDO member pioneered Planned Manufacturing Districts [PMDs] to save jobs and create employment opportunities for Chicagoans in need.

The original PMDs were dismantled by the Rahm Emanuel Administration and in his last City Council hearing on April 10th what is now branded Lincoln Yards was approved for the largest public subsidies to a developer in Chicago’s history.

Affordable housing, you ask?  Insufficient. Job connections? Currently inadequate. Time for a new sheriff?  You bet.

While there are multiple stories from the past still to be shared and cogent political points yet to be made about the future, there are also some very key personal moments to look forward to in the coming months.

My wife Lynne & I met in the summer of 1975, when she was a grad student working with Gale’s national community network. We will be celebrating our 40th Wedding Anniversary in July at Wrigley Field, of course. She started working there this past week in Guest Services; but will be asking for the day off to celebrate our anniversary with 17 family members.

In December, I will be celebrating my 70th birthday and hoping that Social Security remains solvent.

But the most momentous event of 2019 will be celebrating with our son TJ and our daughter-in-law Maureen, who were married after Thanksgiving last year, the birth of our Grandchild in late September! Another Cub fan in time for October playoffs! We’re all looking forward to celebrating the future generation. 

TJ & Mo W Flag (2)

Maureen & TJ fly the “W Flag” on their Wedding Day




To prevent displacement, communities need responsive lenders and investors to finance community anchors that can provide a range of services for the vulnerable, expand businesses, and assure real affordable housing. It will also require reawakened politicians to embrace real community participation. That was my message in session remarks to colleagues from across the country at the 28th annual conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition [NCRC] this month.

There is more urgency to this next chapter in the saga to preserve the federal Community Reinvestment Act [CRA]. Federal Reserve Governor Lael Brainard opened her keynote noting: “CRA is highly valued by banks and communities, and could be even more so.” Certainly that’s more astute than Alan Greenspan allowing predatory lending to destroy communities on his watch.

Yet the urgency is not only driven by pending CRA Reform proposals, it’s exacerbated by the on-going financing of non-affordable housing with the blessing of local government and taxpayers’ subsidies. One attendee in the Preventing Displacement session tweeted my rhetorical question: “How many more luxury apartments can the market bear?”

I learned new terms at this session: “serial eviction developers” and “displacement enabling lenders.” The California Reinvestment Coalition has been researching the pervasiveness of such incidents and has formulated an Ant-Displacement Code of Conduct for lenders to vow not to finance landlords who use loopholes to evict tenants, but instead to invest in affordable housing.. They are tracking the imminent invasion of New York by California’s most egregious displacement lender.

In my remarks, Crafting New Narratives for Communities Taking Charge of Change, I shared the history of Chicago’s Uptown and its challenging future. I commented on inadequate Chicago ordinances that only further racial and economic segregation. I remarked that Chicago’s history does provide justification for community skeptics to question “Planning for whom?”

As we await the election of Chicago’s first African-American woman Mayor on April 2nd, we are still confronted with a tale of two cities. There are now multiple billion dollar development projects rushing to get through Chicago’s City Council before there is a new sheriff and a new City Council that ends developers’ perceived notion that they don’t have to directly provide affordable housing. Meanwhile Uptown’s diversity is increasingly threatened by developer greed, when Uptown could and should be a national model of inclusion.

If it ignores the lens of “equitable development,” CRA Reform could accentuate CRA credit for loans to luxury and market-rate housing in economically and racially diverse communities that will only further real estate speculation, displacement and lack of affordable housing for those Americans who should benefit from CRA lending. Banks fueling displacement should be downgraded on their CRA evaluations.

The Institute of Cultural Affairs [ICA] USA has called Chicago’s Uptown home since 1971.


Mural by Paul Noah

ICA’s anti-displacement strategy is to sustain spaces for the vulnerable population of Uptown. Our Chicago Landmarked building, which we now brand as ICA’s GreenRise, is a community anchor that provides affordable space for two intentional residential communities and 25 social service agencies which serve over 1,000 low income and homeless persons per week. An ICA colleague captured ICA’s community vision in mural art: “Uptown: Where Diversity Brings Success.”

I would be remiss if I didn’t highlight the key moment at this year’s NCRC conference when the Senator William Proxmire Lifetime Achievement Award [first established by NCRC in 2006 in honor of the US Senator who authored the Community Reinvestment Act of 1977] was presented to civil rights leader Stella Adams. A longtime member of NCRC’s board of directors and the organization’s Chief of Equity and Inclusion from 2016 to 2018, she was honored for her leadership and advocacy for fair lending practices and enforcement of the Fair Housing Act across the country.

John Taylor, President and Founder of NCRC, lauded Stella as “a true soldier in the complete sense – somebody who is willing to sacrifice and do whatever it takes to get the truth and to confront power and to get at change – social and economic and civil change – that creates a better society.”

Stella Award 3-11-2019

NCRC CEO Jesse Van Tol, NCRC Board Chair Bob Dickerson, Stella Adams, and NCRC President and Founder John Taylor award Adams the NCRC Senator William Proxmire Award for Lifetime Achievement at the Just Economy Conference on March 11, 2019, in Washington, D.C.              Photo by Maria Bryk Creative for NCRC.

In accepting the award, Stella implored:

“Every day we fight against injustice, inequality, racism, sexism, all the isms, and we lose sight of what we are fighting for. We are so busy fighting to preserve and protect past gains, and let’s be clear, all our gains are at risk, that we fail to plan for this future where we live out the American dream. That is what we are striving for. I need you to fight for your future. Fight for equity.”

Stella, thanks for your service and your inspiration. You are a true Champion & Warrior for Justice.


“When we no longer work to sustain our own points of view and work toward community ownership of change as accountable partners, we will discover that what endures is the fire of inspired action.”
— Jennifer Vanica, Courageous Philanthropy: Going Public in a Closely Held World

When I first met Jennifer Vanica in May 2017, I was not aware of her history with the Institute of Cultural Affairs [ICA] and her use of our Technology of Participation [ToP]® methods.Vanica Book Cover I did know of the Market Creek Plaza from a presentation several years ago at an annual conference of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition [NCRC]. This once abandoned 20-acre factory, at the heart of San Diego’s Diamond Neighborhoods, was transformed into a diverse community focal point, incorporating cultural traditions, arts, and entertainment with necessary community retail and services.

Jennifer first shared this story with SHELTERFORCE readers in October 2014 in her article “Residents Need to Own Community Change.” Now Vanica’s book, Courageous Philanthropy, recounts the full 20-year journey of not just this project but also of this community and its unique partnership with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation (JCNI) and the innovative capital structure required to bring the Plaza to life so the community could enable itself to thrive.

First let me disclose that as CEO of ICA-USA, it is my job to market our ToP methods as tools to build real consensus for real action. I first encountered ICA when I became CEO of the Chicago Association of Neighborhood Development Organizations [CANDO] in 1984. The Harold Washington Administration had contracted with ICA to provide strategic planning for its non-profit delegate agencies. Given our current Mayoral Election, Chicago’s neighborhoods can only hope the winner is as committed to equitable planning and development as Harold was.

Jennifer acknowledges that ToP’s “power of participatory planning became one of our first and most important tools” and continued to guide work for nearly two decades. The key was resident working teams engaged with Jacobs Center staff to plan, design, build and OWN the Plaza. One chapter title quotes a resident: DON’T DO ABOUT ME WITHOUT ME.

My second reflection is that I am confronted today with the same challenges of raising capital and philanthropic support that Jennifer writes about. I am both in awe of the creativity and distressed by the multi-year saga told in this book. I have only been working four years to restore ICA’s GreenRise in Chicago’s most economically and racially diverse community, Uptown. Personally with 2019 being my 45th year in my community development vocation, I’m unclear on my ability to persist another 16 years.

In a chapter entitled SAILING IN HIGH WINDS, Jennifer remarks that the need for risk capital to support community change remains largely unmet. While financing community change requires learning how to blend types of capital, the field of community change, she proclaims, is “calling out for a reawakening and resurgence.” Readers can only be envious of Jennifer’s mentor, Joe Jacobs, as the indispensable “angle-entrepreneur-philanthropist, willing to take the risk position and provide the patient, flexible resources needed.”

My third interpretation of Jennifer’s message for us all is the prerequisite of “working at the intersection of social responsibility and market–driven approaches.” But to do so requires us to “Lead – not with answers – but questions.” As Jennifer observes, “we stopped being program developers and had become process designers and facilitators.”

My fourth observation is the imperative of Jennifer’s challenge: “It’s about getting at underlying contradictions and barriers that keep disinvested communities stuck.” The captivating chapter, THE PEOPLE’S IPO, starts with this quote from a resident on the Ownership Design Team:

“We’re allowed to buy Lotto tickets and that’s got to be a riskier way to make money than land in our own neighborhood.”

Invest, Participate, and Own; together they formed an IPO like no other.

After six years and three state applications, The People’s IPO was finally issued on January 6, 2006. It closed less than ten months later with $500,000 raised at an average investment of $1,176 from 415 investors [78% African-American, 11% Latino; ages ranged from 8 to 85].

Four years later at the end of 2010, total economic activity generated was $47.8 million with 215 jobs created at the Plaza [65% from the community; 84% people of color]. Of its $10 million in construction contracts, $7.8 million went to minority contractors. Once known for its “Four Corners of Death,” the community became home to 14 major cultural events, attracting nearly 25,000 people.

Vanica counted nearly 4,000 visitors from 31 states and 17 countries for learning exchanges with the resident teams while she was part of the Market Creek experience. I’m sure that number continues to grow annually.

Yes, the book is long; but it is certainly worth the time. Being the community development geek that I am, I enjoyed the chapters with the organizational structures to address the “theory of thirds” and the evolution of a Citizen-Centered Learning Model and the capital stack chart. If only there were five foundations today actively seeking Program-Related Investments [PRIs] for community anchor projects.

Having interviewed community leaders nationally for almost 12 years in my first job, I enjoyed every one of the stories Jennifer shared. I enjoyed their embracing of her story telling in the video from her book launch.

I especially relate to her Top 10 List for thriving in the face of complex community change. My four favorites are:

#2 Choose to act; aim at a headpin
#7 Look for the clearing
#9 Refuse to be defeated
#10 Leap and the net will appear

The lessons she details are especially relevant to philanthropy and the community development field at this point in our history. For example:

• Embrace people as citizens, not clients
• Accept the obligation to hear a public voice
• Form a platform to work together across divides
• Build a collective vision
• Craft new narratives for communities taking charge of change
• Create a culture of ownership

Jennifer & Ted Jan 2019

Jennifer Vanica & Ted Wysocki at January 2019 Technology of Participation [ToP]® gathering.

Vanica’s last chapter, LETTER TO THE NEXT GENERATION OF “UNREASONABLES” is aimed at a new generation of philanthropic leaders. But this final message on the final page is for us all:

“You must align the work of community regeneration with the heart of democracy by lifting up the chorus of voices within neighborhoods as worthy, mindful and equal at the table…”

Jennifer’s biggest lesson to remember? “When transformational change is needed, courage is required.”

Courageous Philanthropy is available at iUniverse


Two years ago after the November Trump Ascendancy to the throne, I went to hear Bill McKibben, the founder of, speak. I’m sure all in the audience were looking forward to hearing about all the progress on climate action that was awaiting us over the next four years. While McKibben shared the audience’s frustrations over the election result, he inspired me with his story telling on how was founded.

Anna MoveOnThis year post-election, I heard Anna Galland, Executive Director of, speak at a fundraiser for Organizing Neighborhoods for Equality: Northside [ONE Northside].

MoveOn is where millions mobilize for a better society—one where everyone can thrive. MoveOn is more than its name. It is challenging America “to move forward boldly and fearlessly, upholding and enacting the values that will make our country work for all of us.”

ONE Northside is a mixed-income, multi-ethnic, intergenerational organization that unites diverse communities on Chicago’s north side. Building collective power to eliminate injustice through bold and innovative community organizing, they are developing grassroots leaders acting together to effect change.

Anna shared in her keynote remarks that MoveOn’s Nobody Is Above the Law campaign, which is fighting to defend the Mueller investigation, had deployed that day its rapid-response network to convene 900 protests over Trump’s effort to ensure that the Justice Department ends the investigation.

ONE Northside leaders shared their multiple issue campaigns including its Affordable Housing Team’s focus on defending the North Side’s diverse neighborhoods, like Uptown where I work, against gentrification. Among current advocacy is IL state legislation [SB3512], which would both lift the ban on rent control and implement rent stabilization in the state of Illinois. Election Day was a victory for the hard work of its Team to tackle the urgent need for affordable housing with over 70% of Chicago’s 46th Ward voters checking their support for rent control.

MoveOn_HouseWinGraphic_NewAnna imparted her elation in the House returns providing a check on Trump exploits over the next two years. ONE Northside leaders proclaimed their pledge to take their issues into the pending Chicago Mayoral race.

Now there is less than two years for us all to be Moving On For Change.


“The banks of this country are remote from the people and the people regard them as not belonging to them but as belonging to some power hostile to them.”

I started my March 15, 2015 blog with this quote. I first acknowledged that it was not a quote from US Senator Elizabeth Warren; but it could be. It is from a 1908 keynote address to the American Bankers Association by Woodrow Wilson.

Now in the last month, Senator Warren @SenWarren has awakened my imagination to the possibility of electing a President who is an affordable housing advocate, not a luxury developer. She has introduced legislation, titled the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, which takes aim at segregation, redlining, restrictive zoning, and the loss of equity by low-income homeowners.

The Atlantic article by Madeleine Carlisle on September 25th describes it as “perhaps the most far-reaching assault on housing segregation since the 1968 Fair Housing Act. It’s ambitious, pouring half a trillion dollars over 10 years into affordable-housing programs.”

Warren’s bill would strengthen anti-discrimination laws by expanding Fair Housing Act protections to include gender identity, sexual orientation, marital status, and source of income, attempting to limit housing segregation in the future. It will authorize more enforcement mechanisms for the federal Community Reinvestment Act [CRA] and expand it to include credit unions and nonbank mortgage companies.

Meanwhile, the Trump Administration has started the comment clock on its efforts to strip “community” out of a law that’s supposed to strengthen America’s communities. A New York Times Op-Ed on August 28th by Jesse Van Tol, chief executive of the National Community Reinvestment Coalition [NCRC], ran with the headline: “A Green Light for Banks to Start ‘Redlining’ Again.”

The Community Reinvestment Act [CRA] was passed in 1977 to end “redlining” by requiring banks to lend money in the communities where they are chartered to do business or receive deposits. According to NCRC calculations, banks have made nearly $2 trillion in small-business and community development loans since 1996 to meet CRA requirements.

NCRC members 5th3rd & Huntington MAR 2017

NCRC members announce community lending agreements with Fifth Third & Huntington banks March 2017

This impressive record is now at risk of being turned into a math formula, which would make CRA exams considerably less effective in evaluating how banks are responding to local needs in metropolitan and rural counties. One ratio cannot tell an examiner, a bank, a mayor, or a member of the public how responsive a bank is to its various local service areas.

If CRA exams award points for financing or activities that do not address lack of access to banking or community development needs in lower income areas, then CRA will be less effective in channeling resources to the very communities that were the rationale for its passage. Coupled with an expansion of the kinds of activities that could count as “community lending,” it could allow banks to make fewer loans in poorer urban, suburban and rural communities.

Ignoring the lens of “equitable development,” it could accentuate CRA credit for loans to luxury and market-rate housing in economically and racially diverse communities that will only further real estate speculation, displacement and the lack of affordable housing for those Americans who should benefit from CRA lending.

Comments to these proposals to weaken CRA must be submitted on or before November 19, 2018. For more info, including instructions on how to submit your comment go to: 

Reinvesting in communities can make America’s economy great for all. At a time when power is again becoming hostile, we must Treasure CRA in order to pursue a Just Economy.