NYC Delivery Workers Help Each Other

Foodora work

Delivery apps make ordering food easier and cheaper for consumers, but it costs the workers. By offloading the costs of actually delivering food onto labour the app companies like Uber have few expenses they need to cover, thus the appeal to investors. For the first wave of food delivery apps the companies used venture capital to pay delivery workers, but that money ran out and the rates workers were paid decreased.

Now, around the world, delivery workers are fighting back and organizing. In New York City there’s been a massive effort by delivery workers to help each other in more ways than campaigning against the app companies.

Workers developed the whole system — the bikes, repair networks, shelters, charging stations — because they had to. To the apps, they are independent contractors; to restaurants, they are emissaries of the apps; to customers, they represent the restaurants. In reality, the workers are on their own, often without even the minimum in government support. As contractors and, often, undocumented immigrants, they have few protections and virtually no safety net. The few times city authorities noted the delivery worker’s changing role, it was typically with confused hostility. Until recently, throttle-powered electric bikes like the Arrow were illegal to ride, though not to own. Mayor de Blasio heightened enforcement in 2017, calling the bikes “a real danger” after an Upper West Side investment banker clocked workers with a speed gun and complained to him on The Brian Lehrer Show.

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Save the Planet from Your Kitchen

cooking prep

We are what we eat, and what we eat can change the world. All of us can make tiny changes in the kitchen to help reduce the harm modern food consumption does on the planet. Over at Eater they explore some ideas that people can try in their kitchen to improve their diet while also improving the planet. The really neat thing in this article is that it promotes us to learn from lockdowns during the pandemic when we all ended up making more home cooked meals.

Do what you can keep doing

Since the pandemic began, many of us have adopted efficient shopping and cooking practices out of necessity, but maintaining those habits post-pandemic could help make our lifestyles greener (and easier) in the long run. Look for stores reintroducing self-serve bulk sections and invest in quality food containers to continue saving money on ingredients in bulk, cut down on packaging, and reduce the number of trips to the store. Even if you return to the office, continue prepping meals on weekends and remain flexible with how you use ingredients to ensure you always have a decent meal after work. Clean the kitchen faster by integrating composting into your cooking routine, and reorganize your fridge to keep perishable ingredients visible to avoid food waste in the back. And pass down all these good habits to your kids, along with family recipes, to make them great helpers in the future.

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Understanding that the Map is not the Territory

Maps are all around us and you probably use them more than you think, and maps change the way you think. Knowing that the abstracted representation of the world (the map) is not the actual place (the territory) is an important distinction that we need to make. Another, easier, way to think about this is by knowing that the menu is not the food.

With how much we rely on maps in the modern era we should consistently think about what the map is telling us – and not telling us. Over at ArchDaily they have a good article exploring how maps have been used to change how we think,

Maps aid us in navigation and help us make sense of the vast scale of our world, but they also have many limitations. The Mercator Projection is a well-known example of a map that heavily distorts reality, making Greenland, for instance, appear the same size as South America when it is only one-eighth as big. The field of urban planning has throughout its history relied on maps to aid in the layout of urban settlements and design of urban environments, but these maps have also tended to be disconnected from the myriad of experiences of those “on the ground”, as maps can fail to take into account the complex nature of an urban area.

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Want Better Communities? Get rid of Homeowners

The North American dream often hinges on owning the shelter you reside in, but with raising home prices this is a challenge for many. It may work out in the long run though as we should be creating systems that favour renters over owners since homeowners tend to hold back progress. Of course, we will need to protect renters from evictions and so on. Regardless, over at Vox they have an interesting analysis on home ownership which is worth considering:

Researcher Rachel Bogardus Drew points to more than a century’s worth of messages praising the benefits of homeownership, “everything from personal freedom and self-determination, social equality and inclusion, personal and economic success, and a better quality of life.”

One of the messages Drew cites is from a 1916 article in the Hutchinson News telling readers: “Owning a home raises one in the estimation of his neighbors and associates. … Nothing gives a man a better standing in a community than the fact that he is a house-holder, a payer of taxes on real estate.”

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Avoid these Evil Tech Companies

safe texting

Tech companies have transformed from the stereotypical scrappy startup to the stereotypical megacorporation hellbent on making money before all else. Google is a great example of this transition from a company doing good to a company getting in arguments with its employees about how evil they should be. Slate asked a bunch of smart people working in tech who think is the most evil and created the following list linked below. Why is this good? Well now we know which companies we should try to avoid.

The tech industry doesn’t intoxicate us like it did just a few years ago. Keeping up with its problems—and its fixes, and its fixes that cause new problems—is dizzying. Separating out the meaningful threats from the noise is hard. Is Facebook really the danger to democracy it looks like? Is Uber really worse than the system it replaced? Isn’t Amazon’s same-day delivery worth it? Which harms are real and which are hypothetical? Has the techlash gotten it right? And which of these companies is really the worst? Which ones might be, well, evil?

We don’t mean evil in the mustache-twirling, burn-the-world-from-a-secret-lair sense—well, we mostly don’t mean that—but rather in the way Googlers once swore to avoid mission drift, respect their users, and spurn short-term profiteering, even though the company now regularly faces scandals in which it has violated its users’ or workers’ trust. We mean ills that outweigh conveniences. We mean temptations and poison pills and unanticipated outcomes.

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