The UN Cares About Your Local Housing Crisis

Without a doubt a global housing crisis is hurting all of us. In the majority world basic housing needs aren’t being met while in the richer minority world owning a home is out of reach for the average person. These issues might seem worlds apart but that’s not how the United Nations approaches it.

Leilani Farha, the UN’s Special Rapporteur on the Right to Housing, is leading the charge against profit hungry landlords and arguing for shelter for everyone. She’s featured in the documentary Push (video above) and since the filming she’s still going strong holding evil corporations to account.

“Their business model, of which Blackstone is a frontrunner, is becoming the industry standard. Properties that are deemed ‘undervalued’, which generally means affordable to those living there, are being purchased en masse, renovated, and then offered at a higher rental rate, pricing tenants out of their own homes and communities. Landlords have become faceless corporations wreaking havoc with tenants’ right to security and contributing to the global housing crisis.” 

The experts said they had heard countless stories of tenants’ whose buildings had been bought by private equity firms and whose rents had skyrocketed almost immediately afterward, sometimes by 30 or even 50 percent, making it impossible for them to remain.

Read more.

Watch Push at Hot Docs.

Thanks to Delaney!

Documentaries can Change the World

If you enjoy documentaries you might be changing the world. Documentaries change conversations around important issues and some are so effective at doing so that they make a real-world impact beyond the audience. By bringing issues to light these films raise awareness to problems that we as a society can solve, sometimes the solutions are complex (like Inside Job) and other times they are easier to argue for (like banning the capture and torture of whales). If you want to make the world a better place then go watch some documentaries and tell your friends about it.

Two Columbia University staffers appeared in this exposé of the 2008 financial crisis: Economist/professor Frederic Mishkin and Business School dean Glenn Hubbard. Both men were less than transparent about their professional connections to the finance world. The film reveals that Mishkin wrote a paper about Iceland’s economy without disclosing the $124,000 he’d received from the country’s chamber of commerce. Hubbard, meanwhile, grew combative when questioned about his many consulting clients. A few months after Inside Job’s release, Columbia released much stricter disclosure rules for faculty who work with Wall Street, and the economics department chair credited the movie (which won the Oscar for Best Documentary Feature in 2011) as a driving force.

Read more.

Celebrating Resiliency

The Rockefeller Foundation has produced a new documentary celebrating areas humans live in that are designed to be resilient to climate change. By building our cities and countries around the concept of resiliency we can better prepare for what’s ahead when it comes to unpredictable and extreme weather. It’s design thinking applied on a ecosystem level that allows human civilization to continue while supporting existing natural systems.

The clip above is focussed on Louisiana post hurricane Katrina, the movie explores other places around the world that have also rejuvenated their loyal ecosystems to thrive once again.

Resilience is also a key theme at Rockefeller, which believes national, even global change can start at a city level. In a way, municipalities are the perfect ecosystems to try transformational projects that other cities can tweak or adopt. To that end, the group has invested over a half billion dollars in various resilience initiatives including the National Disaster Resilience Competitionand 100 Resilient Cities.

According to Carter, the film’s concept began with the idea of chronicling several success stories that others could learn from. The group quickly realized that had they enough material for a movie about the broader global movement. Resilience test cases include New Orleans, which has rebuilt better, greener and stronger in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Read more.
Watch the full movie here.

Watch Before the Flood Right Now

When I started this website about good news I never thought I would be mentioning Leonardo DiCaprio, but here we are. The award winning actor teamed up with Fisher Stevens to create a really good documentary about the state of climate change. The documentary weaves together the historical context we find ourselves in and how the current power structures (economic and political) contribute to the ongoing issues around climate change. Change is happening faster than predicted and the documentary encourages us to act even faster.

It’s a good documentary that paints a dreary picture but not without hope for saving the future.

Here’s the trailer in case you need more convincing.

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