Reimagining the political
What are the parameters of politics? If we downplay politics as an achievement of power but as a means of something else like communal love, helping to forge culture that is grounded in principles of love rather than domination; what does it mean to be political? How do we rethink the entire game?
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Carlos Menchaca represents New York City Council District 38, which includes Sunset Park, Red Hook, Greenwood Heights, and portions of Borough Park, Dyker Heights and Windsor Terrace. He is New York State’s first Mexican-American elected official and Brooklyn’s first openly gay office holder.
Carlos has authored over 80 pieces of legislation of which 24 have been approved and he is co-sponsor of 625 legislative items of which 277 have been approved. Recent legislation he has introduced includes proposals to promote workplace safety with apprenticeship training, to punish predatory landlords, and to improve street safety for cyclists and pedestrians. Carlos authored the legislation for New York’s first municipal identification card, IDNYC, which now serves over one million registrants.
As Chair of the Committee on Immigration, Carlos led negotiations that funded the nation’s largest public defender program for undocumented immigrants, and for the greatest City allocation in recent history for adult literacy services. He has supported innovative programs for immigrant day laborers, street vendors, and worker cooperatives. Carlos’ commitment to direct democracy is shown in his annual allocation of more than $2 million to Participatory Budgeting (PB) where residents nominate and vote for capital budget projects. In 2017 for the fourth year in a row District 38 produced the highest number of PB voters City wide, and welcomed voting by all residents regardless of immigration status, and for the first time, middle school students.
A champion for the neighborhoods in his district, Carlos has successfully defended the Sunset Park and Red Hook manufacturing zones from luxury residential development. He has fought gentrification and displacement through street protest, support of tenant advocates, and through legislation that extends tenants’ rights including the right to counsel in housing court.
Jessica von Farkas
Jessica is passionate about humans and about co-creating an equitable future. Within the BMW Foundation Herbert Quandt, Jessica organizes their Regional Responsible Leaders Network in North America where she builds bridges between leaders, organizations and movements, with the aim of cultivating a community of purpose to inspire Responsible Leadership and to advance the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations 2030 Agenda.
Lauren Higgins is a co-founder of the Center for Collaborative Democracy, a newly formed non-partisan not-for-profit in the US with a mission to revitalize democracy for the 21st century. Lauren brings a background in conflict resolution and systems change, and her deep experience in organizational development, convening and facilitation, network governance, and peer learning. She has led global projects focused on social innovation, public imagination, creativity, and the new economy. Lauren regularly convenes and facilitates many philanthropic and innovation networks and is active in civic conflict resolution and restorative justice efforts in her current home of Kansas City, Missouri. As Program Officer at the Kauffman Foundation she designed multiple innovation programs and now works with the Entrepreneurial Ecosystems team to develop learning and capacity building programs for entrepreneurial ecosystem building – a systemic approach focused on creating inclusive communities for entrepreneurs.
Nadira’s a writer. But as media’s blossomed, so has she—from an award-winning journalist into a sought-after host, recognized Millennial expert, passionate progressive, and ever-evolving storyteller who’s graced pages and stages from Fortune to VICE to the United Nations.
Known for her distinctive style, both sharp and uniquely empathetic, Nadira’s appeared on the likes of NPR, HBO, CNN, and MSNBC. She’s captivated audiences at Google, Disney, Comic-Con International, the UN’s Global Festival of Action, and marquee events around the world. And she’s relished examining contemporary culture from all angles in many a print outlet, among them Newsweek, Essence, Smithsonian, MTV News, and Fortune, where she did some of her favorite journalism as a staff writer profiling such singular subjects as Shawn “Jay-Z” Carter, the rollicking ancient art trade, and twentysomethings in the 21st century.
A would-be poet, professional sports fan, and proud graduate of Stanford University, Nadira’s eternally grateful to be a Caribbean-American kid, raised in the great state of Connecticut, who calls Brooklyn, NY, home.