Posted by: bkivey | 27 December 2013

Prosperity For Me But Not For Thee

Last week The Oregonian published a story concerning a proposed Trader Joe’s on a long vacant lot in a historically Black Portland neighborhood. The article was not so much about the store as the organized opposition to it.  The Portland African American Leadership Forum (PAALF) has sent strongly worded emails to city leadership and organized community protests seeking to prevent the store’s construction.

From the PAALF About page on their website:

“Its’ work addresses the unique and interrelated issues of poverty and disparities that challenge us as a community.”

Trader Joe’s is a boutique grocery store chain, but I wouldn’t classify them as ‘upscale’. Prices are competitive with other grocers, and in many cases are cheaper. They’re not exactly a New Seasons. You’d think that with all the talk about ‘food deserts’ and lack of economic opportunity in minority neighborhoods, the community leadership would welcome a Trader Joe’s.

You’d be wrong.

Sections of the PAALF email reprinted in the print version of the story (but not the web version).

(The development) will “increase the desirability of the neighborhood” for “non-oppressed populations.”

“. . . PAALF is  and will remain opposed to any development in N/NE Portland that does not primarily benefit the Black community.”

So on the one hand, these community organizers profess a desire for opportunity for their neighbors, but as soon as a company actually wants to provide some opportunity, those same people are all “Hey, now. You can’t build here. You’ll making the neighborhood better, and more to the point, you’re not Black enough.” Apparently the PAALF is more interested in complaining and playing the victim than actually improving the lives of Black folks.

This is a textbook example of ‘leaders’ exploiting the people they are claiming to represent. I wrote a post on this phenomenon earlier in the year, and while this type of behavior knows no ethnic bounds, it does seem to be more prevalent among historical minorities.

The membership of PAALF’s Steering Committee is replete with educated professionals. Most of the folks are involved with some sort of social services, and the list of partnerships are almost exclusively from the social services and government sectors. This creates an echo chamber in which everyone agrees with everyone else, and all solutions must come from government. Year after year, the ‘leadership’ is made up of the better off, but the people they use as a power base stay poor.

Back into programming

One of my goals for the coming year is to develop and sell some Android apps. After looking around for a free, relatively easy to use and powerful programming tool, I found the MIT App Inventor., an Interactive Development Environment (IDE). The programming interface is intuitive and well laid-out. Instead of writing code, the programmer snaps together blocks representing function-specific code. The blocks are shaped such that they ‘snap’ together, and only code that will work together will fit together.

This isn’t to say that programming an app is a ‘snap’. You still have to write flowcharts and figure out  exactly how the app will work, just like programming in more traditional environments. But you don’t have to write every line of code, although source code is available.

The site is well-supported with tutorials, libraries, and documentation. The IDE allows the developer to test the app as it’s being designed on an Android device or emulator. The IDE is oriented toward wireless connections, as the USB and emulator can be problematical. I haven’t actually written programs outside of school in decades, but it’s been refreshing to find that I’ve retained the basics of program design, and some math courses are coming in handy. I’m also rediscovering that one of the more difficult aspects of programming is translating the program design into something the working language will accept. I enjoyed programming when I was a teenager, and have found the same satisfaction with the current project.





  1. Live in the Detroit area, my dad was a route driver delivering ice cream to the stores and grocieries in the area inside Detroit, many of these people were middle eastern(Christian Iraqi’s) Chaldean’s, in areas increasingly becoming segregated, the level of animosity from the residents toward the merchants that they often stole from and the jealousy that they treated them with is legend. the segregated ones in a city with democrat leadership hated the very people who tried to actually make a living in increasingly desparate areas, all the while they would just sit on their porches and get high and drunk and hating anyone that did better than they. with all the government did for them, is it any wonder!

    • Detroit is in so many ways a Progressive cautionary tale no one wants to heed. When the city declared bankruptcy last year, I read several articles where residents were asked who was responsible for the FUBAR condition of the city. Almost to a person the response was ‘Republicans’. I expect Los Angeles to be in a similar state within the decade.

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