Targeted consumption: Buy Black

Monday’s post gave some resources for investing your self-directed retirement funds in your community. Being mindful of where you spend your consumer dollars is another, more common, and easier way to support your community and align your money with your values.

Covid-19 was the prompt that first redirected my attention to supporting local economies, and even before the police murder of George Floyd sparked a human rights war (in the words of Nenna Joiner, founder of Feelmore Adult in Oakland and Berkeley), the effects on small businesses were racially inflected.

I know when these types of things happen, it tends to hit us, black people, the hardest, but it also hits our black-owned businesses the hardest, because we don’t have access to as many funding opportunities as other businesses do. So this is the time to really step up and support your small black-owned businesses.

—Tomara Watkins, founder of Loza Tam

Here are some resources to help you target your consumer dollars to Black communities and Black-owned businesses.

Continue reading “Targeted consumption: Buy Black”

Austin’s Highland Mall as Victor Gruen’s Last Laugh

Oh, Highland Mall, the stuff of my childhood back-to-school shopping dreams. It opened in 1971 and closed officially in 2015, though it had been dead for a while before then. During the 80s, it was the most accessible mall in Austin to my family, who lived in rural isolation to the east of the city. I salivated to be driven 50 miles to shop in that neon-lit concrete bunker, though now I’m much more likely to be found eating ice cream in a green space at The Domain farther north when I visit my home city. Today, the property is owned by Austin Community College and is being transformed into a mixed-use anchor of neighborhood amenities, including not only retail, residential, and park areas, but also computer and chemistry learning and co-working facilities.

Food court at Highland Mall, Bellerophon5685
So who was Victor Gruen? Tom Scott gives a brief introduction to the Austrian architect who conceived of the shopping mall as a way to combat suburban sprawl in the United States, his adopted country–then hated the “bastard offspring” of his idea and developers’ money that resulted. The Highland Mall of my youth was one of those bastard offspring; the Highland Mall of the future is much more what Gruen had in mind.


Illustration of an analog numeric typewriter, superimposed on a paper chart of printed numbers.

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