A Personal Invitation To Join Our Incubator And Create A Nationwide Solution For The Man Who Disrupted Our Insight Panel On Gentrification

18 Aug A Personal Invitation To Join Our Incubator And Create A Nationwide Solution For The Man Who Disrupted Our Insight Panel On Gentrification

Tuesday marked the public kickoff to Goodie Nation’s social impact tech incubator focused on gentrification economic inclusion. Held at General Assembly in Ponce City Market, Creating Economically Inclusive Gentrified Areas was packed with 300+ people from all parts of Atlanta. It was, easily, the most diverse crowd (ethnicity, age, socio-economic status) we’ve ever attracted. Unfortunately, an otherwise great event was disrupted near the end. But before I go into that, let me set some context first.

Spurred by a grant from Google, we are launching a 6 month incubator with the goal of producing ten (10) tech or tech-enabled companies focused on connecting 500,000 people across the country who live and work in areas affected by gentrification to nearby emerging economic opportunities by 2019. Anyone 18+ plus can apply to start a team as we’re giving people tons of value at absolutely no cost. We have a design thinking workshop in September for professionals and college students to guide them through a proven process for generating awesome ideas. The best ideas will move onto a hackathon where developers, designers, and product managers will volunteer their time to turn the ideas into actual prototypes. A month later, creatives and marketers will volunteer to help with branding and communication strategies. And in early January, each team will present their companies to hundreds of influencers, community activities, experts, investors, etc at a Demo Day. If that wasn’t enough, each team will receive dedicated coaching from two experienced entrepreneurs, and will be assigned a subject-matter expert as an advisor to give feedback and make connections. It’s more than $10,000 worth of value per team. Learn more about it here.

As we’ve done research on the economics of gentrification (basically the money being spent), it’s become clear that this is a massive, and complex challenge. Most people don’t understand it. Heck, even some experts don’t understand it. The Insight Panel was a way to create a common understanding of what gentrification is, the economics around it, the groups of people and organizations impacted/involved with it, economic opportunities, key insights and trends, obstacles to connecting people to those economic opportunities, examples of successful solutions, and ideas for more. You can view the presentation deck here.

So it’s about 8:50pm, and we have to close the event. The panel ran about 10 minutes too long, and as the moderator, I had to cut the audience Q&A short, and move onto to introducing the special guest speaker. Just as I’m introducing him, this guy stands up and starts to speak. At this point, I’m thinking he is about to ask a question so I let him say something (I’m a nice guy from Alabama). But he starts yelling about the people at fault for gentrification. I calmly ask him to stop, but he keeps on. I ask him again, and he keeps on. (Now at the very beginning, we went over the Code of Conduct, and I gave everyone 60 seconds to read it on the screen. Basically, it says don’t be a jerk, or we’ll make you leave.) This guy keeps on yelling and makes a move toward the middle of the floor in the direction of the panelists. Not knowing if he has a weapon, our team swoops in and moves him to the back, and he is STILL trying to get to where the panelists are. Eventually, they take him out of the room, but somehow he gets back in and approaches one of the panelists and starts yelling in his face. Luckily he wasn’t armed as it could have been a really bad situation (note: we’re getting our own security officers for future events).

But what I should have done at that moment was to invite him to be a part of the incubator. To actually create solutions with the help of superstars instead of complaining about a massive problem. But I didn’t, so I found out who he was (Steven or Rob Andrews), and sent him the following message on Facebook.

Steven: Thanks for coming out to the insight panel Tuesday night. I understand your frustration with the overall situation, but we (Goodie Nation) are actively working on real solutions that will be launched by January. The objective of the panel was to provide a clearer understanding of the situation by people with expertise on both sides of the fence. Some people in the audience have a deep understanding of the issue, but most don’t. As an educator, I’m sure you can appreciate getting everyone to a baseline understanding of the topic.

This was the kickoff to our incubator where we are GIVING people who want to create actual solutions access to some of the best entrepreneurs in Atlanta for 5 months of coaching, an advisor to make connections, world-class help with forming an idea that can be used all over the country, a tech team to build it, a marketing team to brand it, and platform to share what they built with influencers and experts. All of this at NO cost. I am PERSONALLY inviting you to create the change you seek. All it takes is your commitment. An[d] judging by your emotion, that doesn’t seem to be an issue. Please let me know as soon as possible if you want to create a solution that can help 500,000 across the country.

Since we aren’t friends on Facebook, I’m not sure if he’ll see this message. So I’m asking if anyone who knows him could forward him my message or tell him to check his message. I wanted him to know that we are actually doing something about the problem – not just talking about it, and Tuesday was the first step in the months-long process organized by volunteers. Going through our incubator, for free, is an amazing opportunity to actually move the needle, and help people in need. Every day we don’t implement a solution a lot of people fall further and further behind. Talk isn’t enough. 

Steven, let me know if you accept. Let’s create some change together.

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