Millvale Going Gr$$n

A local living economy through ecodistricts workshop.

A workshop for Millvale property and business owners to explore and develop business opportunities through an ecodistrict. How can we use our current assets to generate investment and grow a green, thriving Millvale? Come and learn how!

November 11th, 2013 at 7 PM at Millvale Community Centre, 416 Lincoln Ave, Millvale PA. To register please email us at Please include your contact phone number. Your contributions are welcomed.

Making Eco-District Development Happen

If the technology and design problems can be solved, why aren’t we developing eco-districts? There are two major barriers; one, innovation in the real estate sector and two, the sources of capital. Today, a full 27% of all US population lives alone, as well, average household size is now 2.6 down from 3.1 in 1979, and our senior population is growing at a rate of 10,000 per day. Yet, home builders continue to build 3,000 square foot homes at a record pace. Sources of capital explain this discrepancy. Capital is risk adverse and changing their perception of what is desirable for consumers will take some time, they are stuck on the single family home with a picket fence. Who can blame them it has been a very profitable run and with low monthly payments occupancy is always possible.

Maybe it is too much to imagine that our African American seniors would once again be interested in changing our future, but the opportunity is there. African American seniors could form an Eco-District Land Trust and make eco-districts happen.

Making Eco Districts Happen

Seniors, it is up to you! We call you the greatest generation, please be great once again and help us change the future of our city.

Today I learned that every day for the next 19 years, 10,000 Americans will turn sixty five. Pittsburgh is the oldest city in America with 23.6% of its population over 60. In our urban communities many of the homeowners are African American seniors who acquired their home during the steel boom, when people had stable employment. Now they live on a fixed income and find it difficult to maintain their home or pay their property taxes. Not surprisingly many of these homes end up abandoned and then become subject to property tax foreclosure and a demolition target.

Property tax foreclosures and demolition take what little equity our neighbors had and eliminate wealth transfer and economic opportunity for future African American generations. Although it may seem a natural sequence of events it is also a tragic loss of wealth for our African American neighbors. Ultimately lack of economic opportunity for our African American neighbors impacts our city’s quality life and competitiveness in the world stage.

It is not likely that city will change the property tax foreclosure process as it is hungry for property tax revenue. The private sector is mostly incentivized to develop for market demand and sees opportunity only when there are sufficient subsidizes and opportunity to make “property values jump”. So where is the solution?

Seniors, it is up to you! We call you the greatest generation, please be great once again and help us change the future of our city. Maybe it is too much to imagine that our African American seniors would once again be interested in changing our future, but the opportunity is there. African American seniors could form a Land Trust to manage their property ownership for their benefit. Yes, for your benefit, that means the trust could build housing that meets your needs and develop in a way that provides ample employment opportunities for our community. Why let the subsidies go to corporations when they are intended for your benefit?


“Under the Radar” Corporations and National Policy

Regional trade agreements such as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) or the proposed Transpacific Partnership (TPP) and bilateral trade and investment agreements between two countries, include provisions that allow corporations to sue governments when they feel their rights have been breached by a government action.

We don’t have an economic problem, we have a moral problem

Economics is useless as pure science, it is not a pure science. Economics is a human endeavor to improve well being. We have to understand that a collision with earth is not in anyone’s interest. We have to recenter our politics, global society and ourselves.

We don’t have an economic problem, we have a moral problem.

Jeff Sachs

Austerity measures on government spending is it a matter of psychology?

So is the austerian impulse all a matter of psychology? No, there’s also a fair bit of self-interest involved. As many observers have noted, the turn away from fiscal and monetary stimulus can be interpreted, if you like, as giving creditors priority over workers. Inflation and low interest rates are bad for creditors even if they promote job creation; slashing government deficits in the face of mass unemployment may deepen a depression, but it increases the certainty of bondholders that they’ll be repaid in full. I don’t think someone like Trichet was consciously, cynically serving class interests at the expense of overall welfare; but it certainly didn’t hurt that his sense of economic morality dovetailed so perfectly with the priorities of creditors

3 Reasons not to build a minimum viable product

“Let’s get the definition out of the way first; Eric Ries defines MVP as “…that version of a new product which allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least effort.”

As we detail in “The Lean Entrepreneur,” famed entrepreneur Bill Gross created an MVP in 1999 that validated that car buyers would be willing to by autos online sight unseen. The customer would choose a car on his website, describe the options desired and then pay for the car. Bill then would go buy the car from a dealer (losing money in the process) and deliver it the customer.

That MVP grew into”

African American community in Pittsburgh experiencing historic non-transfer of wealth

A look at a map of municipal property tax foreclosures shows a sea of read ink in our urban neighborhoods. Urban homeowners acquired ownership during the steel boom, now they are living on a fixed income and can’t afford property taxes, maintenance or repairs of their homes. When redevelopment does show up at their door they are told that it is good for them as their property value will increase.

“They are getting good money for their properties” An African American nonprofit executive said. $25,000 to $50,000 may be considered good value in property terms, but it is not likely to do much for the homeowners or their families. The new housing being built will cost more than $250,000. How many African American households in Pittsburgh can afford that? Most residents of neighborhoods being considered for redevelopment have annual income of less than $18,000.

The big question, why are we not working with African American property owners to co-develop their properties and have them become equitable partners? Potentially it could reduce redevelopment costs and increase the equity of our African American neighbors. Don’t we want multi-culturally diverse neighborhoods?

As far as co-development strategies there are many proven methods, cohousing, real estate trusts, shared equity appreciation agreements, and creative financing strategies. Being open to innovative approaches could truly improve our city’s quality of life and reputation.