Update: THANK YOU to everyone who has contributed here and laid the foundations for the Rights Here Project! The project now has fiscal sponsorship, so future donations can be made here .
I’m Annabel Short, and I’m inviting you to join a journey through New York City, sharing the stories of people who are transforming the way that we build, from the ground up.
Construction in New York is booming. This reflects a global trend: the industry is projected to grow 85% by the year 2030!
And yet…as real estate investors and speculators prioritize their own short-term profits, much of what we see being built in cities will lead us to a future like the one in the image below.
We're seeing construction that prioritizes an elite one percent, ignores the growing risk of climate change, undermines working conditions for construction workers, and displaces people from their homes.
Luckily people are working towards a different vision.
A vision of cities for all of us, with dynamic streets, housing that families can afford, good jobs, accessible infrastructure like schools and hospitals, and clean air to breathe.
Through the Rights Here podcast, videos and interviews you will hear from organizers of immigrant day laborers, women forging their careers in construction, green infrastructure architects, and affordable housing activists. I’ll begin these conversations in Council District 51 in Staten Island, and travel through the city to end in District 1, Manhattan’s financial district (because it’s always good to look at things from a different angle!).
Those of you who know me know I’m passionate about connecting with people where they are at, as the starting point for all social change.
There will be a lot to talk about. Big tech is expanding its footprint on real estate - with Amazon locating a new headquarters in Queens being just one example. The closure of Rikers jail poses important questions about what will get built in its place. And low-income communities of color are facing the brunt of climate impacts like increased storms and heat waves.
These conversations will help to build new connections and open up new strategies for change.
After MANY years working on corporate accountability and human rights, I’m convinced that it’s time to turn attention to the real estate and construction industries, which have largely flown under the radar despite their huge influence over our lives and our futures.
This neighborhood-by-neighborhood journey in NYC is the first stepping stone for a new initiative to start transforming the way we build.
By supporting, you’ll be contributing those critical first $$ to get the journey started, providing wind behind my sails, and most importantly, amplifying and building connections between people who are moving our cities in the right direction.