Today at Collision conference Shaquille O’Neal made an appearance to promote Steady, a company that wants to help working Americans get a steady financial life. The company was founded by Adam Roseman a few years ago with the goal of making life more predictable for the average American. As nearly everyone knows, inequality has been increasing since the last recession and now companies like Steady are looking to stop that growth. Their platform helps people find work while also learning how to budget and other financial bits of wisdom.
Growing up in a single-parent home, Roseman saw first hand the daily financial struggles many Americans face. The vision for Steady came to Roseman after seeing the plight of his recently retired father. Like many Americans, his father found he didn’t have enough retirement savings and needed to work part-time to make ends meet. Roseman stepped in, suggesting his father look for flexible work opportunities that fit his needs, availability and interests. And through Steady, Roseman and his team hope to help millions more.
Democracy is messy and in order for it to function many voices need to be heard, when some groups can’t be heard they peacefully take to the streets. Despite a history of protesting for a good cause resulting in beneficial societal change there are people who doubt the efficacy of such movements. There is a long history of groups getting together and rallying behind a common cause which we take for granted today, like weekends and liberty. Given what is happening this week in the USA it’s high time we all show our support (in a non COVID-19 spreading way) for those fighting for human rights and eradicating racism.
In 1911, 146 workers were killed by a fire in an unsafe factory. At the time, workers often dealt with extremely hazardous working conditions. The tragedy prompted a march on New York’s Fifth Avenue of nearly 80,000 people. This march helped to pass new laws to ensure workplace safety and helped the growing union movement. This eventually led to laws that we still use today, like the minimum wage requirement and the right to collectively bargain as a union.
This past week saw Americans out on the streets en masse to protest police violence, in particular race-based discrimination practiced by police throughout the nation. Non-white individuals get harassed more, suffer more violence, and are treated worse by the judicial system than white people. This has been proven time and time again, with people getting increasingly sick of it with every passing year. 2020 has seen many needless deaths due to racist and untrained officers – Americans have had enough. We can show solidarity (and many already have with rallies) while calling for systemic change in the USA and in our own countries. A few years ago Scientific American looked into ways we can change American policing.
If implicit bias workshops may not be the answer, what can police departments do?
We don’t know how to de-bias people because the culture is so saturated with those stereotypes. My general recommendation is—and I think it’s consistent with what the Center for Policing Equity is generally proposing—that departments find ways to reduce the rates at which these interactions are occurring.
Police have a lot of discretion on who they can engage with and who they detain, and that can result in wild variation in discretionary stops. You can reduce the amount of contacts without compromising public safety and then the chance for biased outcomes gets reduced dramatically. We have seen that in NYC: The number of stops are way down and the racial disparities are mathematically necessarily reduced because there is less room for disparity.
As a Republican President in the states is undergoing an impeachment trial the Republican Party is also going under many trials. For the last few decades the Republican Party has engaged in gerrymandering to ensure that their party wins instead for the Democrats (or independents). This modification of electoral maps has been argued to be everything from racist to classist and everything in between. The predominantly old, white, and male Republican Party has been denying all the allegations against them, and now they’ve met their match.
The daughter of the leader of the gerrymandering effort, Stephanie Hofeller, has released documents that prove true all the Republicans are denying in the courts. Sometimes it takes one brave person to speak up to help ensure a nation’s democracy can continue.
Stephanie says she connected with the North Carolina chapter of Common Cause, an advocacy group that had brought a lawsuit against Republican state officials to overturn political maps Thomas Hofeller helped draw. After mentioning the hard drives to Common Cause, Stephanie received a court order to turn them over as potential evidence for the lawsuit. She did so in March after making a copy of some of the files for herself.
Since then, the Hofeller files have led to bombshell developments in two major legal battles in the political world.
In September, Common Cause won its legal challenge to political maps in North Carolina, where a state court cited some of the files as evidence of gerrymandering designed to unfairly give Republicans an advantage in winning elections and maintaining control of the state legislature.
Tishaura Jones, the first female treasurer of St. Louis, set out to improve her city through good design. Through her own struggles dealing with the city’s bureaucracy she identified many problems with how information is presented, she noted she wasn’t the only one running into bad design. Jones decided to do something about it; the policies were there but nobody knew how to understand them since the information was presented in a Byzantine way. She has led St. Louis to alter how information gets communicated to its citizens.
As treasurer of St. Louis, she used two key design techniques to improve policy delivery and outcomes. First, she reached out to other cities that had prototyped and tested new, human-centered policies. Building on what other cities had learned allowed St. Louis to springboard forward instead of getting stuck reinventing wheels. Second, she brought together policy and processes, applying people-centered design to the rules that governed services and the delivery of them. By building connective tissue between policy, process, and people, Jones was able to built new trust in old institutions to deliver real change impacting residents’ lives.
Justin King, policy director of the family-centered social policy program at New America, where I did research, has spent his career working on issues at the intersection of children’s lives and government policies. “Tishaura and Jose before her are reinventing what’s possible inside government,” he says. “People see the state and municipal government, in a lot of cases, as a predator on them and their communities . . . [Their work] is against the tide. It is really positive and really innovative and really worth talking about.”