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Brewing up a little Democracy!

Some of you have seen the footer of my emails:

“I’m a cooperative investor: join me in supporting DEMOCRACY BREWING

Have you clicked the link? Are you intrigued?

I need you to get excited about this. We are looking for a few more investors. There are a variety of packages in the prospective. Intended return is 5% and the cooperative will buy back shares in 5 years. If you go for the $3000 package, you will get a free crowler of beer every time you visit – as many times as you want! Read the prospectus here.

The organization has started to build out the pub in Downtown Crossing – it is awesome! I went to their open house the other night to check things out. It is going to be really cool. The space is great. It’s a lot bigger than Stoddard’s or the other pub on the block there. It has a cozy feeling, like the den of revolutionary plotters.

You can see the build out here – really going to be cool. The gap goes to the lower level where the kitchen, brewing and events space will be. You can read more about the project here.

Looking up at the entrance from below. I took a little tour while sampling the brews.

The point is not the ancillary benefits, but rather, to join the cooperative movement and directly invest in this great concept. Democracy Brewing will be creating a space to gather and support progressive voices and organizations. You can be a part of it!Here are James and Wex distributing samples of what will be coming up. All good stuff!

Here is the location on Temple Place – right off Tremont at the Boston Common. It’s a three minute walk from the Downtown Crossing T station at Washington St. Yes, the old Windsor Button shop. Buttons used to be huge!

Check out the link to learn more about this awesome opportunity. Below is the leadership team – you can read more about them on the site. Let’s invest together!

Let me know if you have any questions.

I can’t wait to meet you at Democracy Brewing for a pint and some good chow!

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Civekos Outline – Class Exercise #4

MLD-836 Class 8 Workshop Questions Grey Lee 9/26/17


  1. How do you operationalize your value proposition and unique attributes into your service delivery chain?


Our value proposition is meeting a gap in a niche market of housing. Two spectrums are intersecting: One is related to recognizing and rewarding people who are devoted to social benefit work through subsidizing their housing. The other is creating new and dynamic synergies and connections for these professionals through a new (old) model of group living where people internalize deep learning about communication, patience, service and compassion.

We operationalize it by performing some market research, some philanthropy testing (which could involve finding an in-kind facility contribution/licensing), then implement the prototype. From that we learn how to better manage a given node and learn ways we could scale.

I am trying to determine how my concept fits with issues around privilege, affordability, gentrification, and interventionism in general. While there may be a lot to debate, I am going to side-step a lot of it. I believe that right now, there are a variety of social problems that can be ameliorated by social work and social benefit professionals. Again, while there may be a debate about how much to pay these people, like teachers and health care professionals, regardless of how to influence take-home pay, reducing rent for these people will benefit them, and potentially lengthen the duration in their life that they want to do this type of work. Further, while people of any means make choices around housing, and people have traditionally “doubled up” or lived with groups of others in an effort to reduce their housing cost, I think it is reasonable to build this out for people who “could” choose otherwise. Many people choose to work for social benefit who come from places of economic privilege. There may be a way to seek a type of social finance bond from networks of privilege to directly support a scion of privilege who chooses to work in this realm and who chooses to live in one of our nodes.

We have to procure the nodes in our network of “social benefit lodges” and identify the main partners who will underwrite the real estate side of the equation. There will also need to be partners on the social structure – the governance, the selection/attraction of residents, and general facility and node operation.

Another part of the service delivery chain will be to engage residents as part of the marketing and sales team – to recruit subsequent residents and/or new node groups.


  1. Can you think of ways to innovate and make it better?

One thing that we may want to do is look at a replicable design, for instance, some kind of pre-fab structure that could scale like some of the “shipping container” housing that has been developed. One model is Bjarke Ingels’ (Danish architect of the firm BIG) “Urban Rigger” floating dorms. This may be appropriate in some locations – for instance, to locate a node in a place like San Juan, Puerto Rico in the aftermath of a disaster – but this is a departure from the expected priority location targets of repurposable group living facilities like old fraternity houses, religious community housing or otherwise.

Another innovation to improve/expand this model is focusing on the software for improving small learning communities. Slack is an obvious model to create spaces for communication and project management. There are other platforms like WeSpire (corporate employee community engagement gamification) and Habitica (to-do list gamification which can be linked across different people) which can link small teams who may have a common purpose.

There are circular economy platforms for sharing resources and time banks like Neighborrow and Yerdle which don’t quite work because the parties are too unrelated. Within the bounds of the pre-qualified community in each node or even throughout the nodes in this network, a sharing platform could be more successful for sharing tools and other seldom-used but useful items.

The peer-to-peer education platform E-180 (“Brain Dates for Learning Humans”) could see a materialized “in situ” option in the nodes in the network of sobene (social benefit professional) housing [pronounced “sobenny”]

There are a few places to go with just the real estate – scaling to different sizes, repurposing specific challenging properties, tweaking the level of quality/amenities offered. A lot depends on the early engaged philanthropy or partners and what they want to see/who they most want to support.  

  1. Are you truly “delighting” your beneficiaries/stakeholders and solving their pain points?

One of my major challenges is trying to determine a true “pain point” for my target customer. Over time I am seeing that my customer is the individual resident, not the employing agency. The party motivated to find housing is that sobene. As we create a highly differentiated product, we will delight that specific customer. They will have a subsidized housing option, which has superior features and connects them to a social network of similarly socially committed people.

  1. How do your staff and volunteers contribute to your service delivery excellence?

The staff for the central organization will be mostly involved with network organization and the build-out/project management of the nodes. We will recruit residents with some form of vetting for expected in-kind contributions of time and wisdom. Each node will have individuals in certain roles to support that community – a “house government” as it were. Central office staff will design models and guidelines and facilitate (train the trainers) to get nodes up and running. There may be ways for local supporting philanthropies or hosting employer agencies to supply guidance into nodes to ensure they are executing on the intentions around smooth group functioning, strong peer synergies and community engagement.



  1. What are the core elements of your solution and delivery model that will fit together to create your high impact enterprise?

Core elements include the acquisition process, and the modeled house node governance process – the systems around resident communication, role & responsibility management, and community engagement. We will have to find the right balance between a centrally-planned and administered real estate operation and a locally-focused community engagement process. The nodes will have to have significant autonomy to meet the local resident market and best connect with sponsoring employer agencies/organizations. The definition of social benefit, and the selection process for residents, will have to be managed by local parties to ensure the best fit with that locality.


  1. Are there others in your eco-system whom you can draw in to create or sustain value?

Indeed, these nodes for social benefit professionals will connect with employing social agencies and other service entities who have already engaged with the housing question. We are different in that we will house people from a variety of employers – that cross-fertilization is part of our value proposition. But entities like the Episcopal “Life Alive” and Catholic Worker Houses will be allies. They may even host a node. The cooperative community will also be a strong partner – the Cooperative Fund of New England and North American Students of Cooperation (NASCO) Real Estate fund residential cooperatives and we may be an attractive investment for them. The Slow Money community and entities like RSF Finance may also see the cash flow of residents as a good “patient capital” investment. Community Development Corporations which have built affordable housing may be able to see this model as a useful type of asset to have in their service realms (perhaps even to house their employees), although they generally produce housing for a different type of selection criteria.  

  1. Can you create a virtuous circle of benefits based upon your value proposition(s)?

There will certainly be an emergent virtuous circle of benefits as the nodes multiply and the overhead per node diminishes. Each node will be a marketing tool to encourage more funders, more employer agencies and more residents to join. Over a few years, an age stratification may emerge where longer-term, “lifers” become more permanent house residents (within the bounds of the management structure and governance processes (no curmudgeons allowed!)) will manifest social capital more strongly to guide each node and to engage with new and shorter-cycle residents. There may eventually be nodes designed for families and groups of people who will plan to live long-term in the social benefit professional space. The nodes could each create relationships with academic institutions, municipal and state agencies, and even become their own type of community development entity or social enterprise incubators. People living together, working toward a common purpose of social betterment, will evolve new patterns and solution processes. It will be exciting to watch.

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Real Estate Finance Association Fall Meeting

Every now and then I get together with my father, Bruce Lee, to head into the city for a real estate industry program. He spends most of his time in the burbs, working the commercial real estate circuit along Rt. 128 and Rt. 3 North. He’s been at it for over 25 years at Lee Partners of New England.

This September was a meeting of the Real Estate Finance Association. They had a few speakers that we both like on the docket, so we were looking forward to it.

Bruce wrote up his notes about the event here – he has a long history of observations on the industry and reflected well from the observations of the folks like Bryan Koop (Boston Properties) and Roy Hershland (T3 Advisors), Rob Griffin (Newmark Knight Frank) and Bill Poorvu (formerly of HBS).

The basics were that the experts think we are still moving forward with a growing real estate industry and there is no reason to think it is going to burst anytime soon. That is of course what they said last year…how long can it go? But so far, no major indicators of a change.

After the program, we took a walk through Downtown Boston to see some construction sites. We wound up on the Common. It was a great outing for Lee Partners of New England!


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Civekos: Attributes and Competition

Grey Lee – Social Enterprise MLD 836 – 9/17/17

This assignment is looking at the solution, even though I am currently investigating my problem statement as a priority, and trying to avoid focusing on my “solution.” I don’t want to build out something that doesn’t have a strong enough problem, which might fail on the marketplace. On the other hand, I have been thinking about this for some time now and do believe there is a real market for this offering. Fine-tuning it to find funding is the next big question, in my mind.

There are two paths: 1) a traditional multifamily developer/financier sees the value and the market and we build it out, or 2) a philanthropic entity supports it. The one would require stronger financial return from essentially the residents, shifting this away from my original concept of subsidized housing for sobenes (social benefit professionals). The second would enable the project to avail itself of patient capital, contributed real estate, philanthropy or a social impact bond structure and provide the subsidization.

Meanwhile, the assignment has some good market testing questions.


  • What are 5-7 unique attributes of your solution that your beneficiaries value?


The beneficiaries are the people who will live in the lodges.

  1. Reduced housing expenditure (target of 50% local average / or totally free like a fellowship award)[obviously needs to be determined and specified]
  2. Filtered/Selective mix of peer residents
  3. Structured para-professional support: workshops, mentors, networking
  4. Facilitated social quality-of-life dynamic: seamless IT, organized meals, outings, interactions, amenities like sporting equipment, workshop,
  5. Simplified/reduced-friction group living: cleaning service, meals, streamlined administrative requirements
  6. Mission-orientation and pride of purpose for being a collaborating resident: you are not simply living there, paying rent, and passing through. Residents become alumni of a place they strongly care about.



  • How does your closest 2-3 “competitors” or “alternatives” compare to you?


Fundamentally, the alternative to what I’m envisioning is simply cheap housing anywhere, which is the default for people who are earning at the levels that social benefit employers tend to pay. Many in these roles choose to live in groups – 2-3 housemates – in order to reduce total costs. Often, these group arrangements are spontaneous and messy, and could benefit from more structure. I believe there is a fine line between “fun and easygoing” community and “stable and supportive” institutional style housing. It can be modeled, fine-tuned, and monitored.

There are few specific comparisons which have emerged over time for this type of housing under the auspices of some mission-orientation that provide their own designated housing. My concept is rather a pan-organization concept. Somewhat like a private dorm/multi-resident facility in an academic town (like London House in London) which hosts students from multiple colleges or institutions. In this case, it is hosting residents working for a variety of agencies/non-profits.

Entities which provide housing for people doing social benefit work include:

  1. Catholic Worker Houses (such as Haley House in Boston), which provide housing to a small number of resident staff, but also a larger number of units for low-income residents (who do not work for the organization and their residence is not related to their professional engagement).
  2. The Beacon Hill Friends House is a communal housing arrangement with a slight institutional feel where over 20 people share space, 5-nights-a-week meals, and activities. While generally ascribing to Quaker principles, residents are not expected to work in social benefit arenas.
  3. Various schools and museums provide housing for their teachers or caretakers, and notably summer camps seasonally house their workers.

On the other hand, there are a number of new entities which are building out group living settings known as co-living, similar to the office setting known as co-working. Co-living assumes a willingness to live in a single room attached to communal resources like living rooms and kitchens, with a varying level of service provision. In a sense, it is enhanced multi-housemate living. Most are targeting tech industry workers who are new to an area and want to rapidly integrate socially to the location. These are often priced at near luxury levels in their market (not quite suitable for most social benefit professionals).

  1. WeLive
  2. Urby
  3. Quarters
  4. HubHouse
  5. Common
  6. HackerHome
  7. Startup Mansion
  8. Dwell

There are some entities that focus on serving the needs of nomadic workers (those who are coding, writing or otherwise can work on projects remotely via the internet) with nodes throughout the world. Some of these are more like hostels or a “Club Med” where you can live in one for a month, then on to another, for a change of pace. Due to their locations in emerging market economies, they are often priced “reasonably” compared to something in Boston or San Francisco, but still, not trying to give anyone a break!

  1. ROAM
  2. Outsite
  3. Nomad House
  4. Terminal 3

My concept of blends aspects of these but primarily seeks to connect people doing good work and subsidize their housing through some kind of underwriting.



  • How sustainable is this over time–are there ways to design your offering to build lasting value? Can you be a thought leader in your space? How can your beneficiaries, partners, volunteers help you build value and distinction over time?


The intention is to be sustainable. People will always need places to live, and social benefit work will always call to people. We can find the balance between creating a good product – the housing – and matching the cost to provide to the ability of the residents to contribute. One major dimension will the the screening/selection process, to figure out what really is “social benefit work” and who “qualifies” for that.

Ultimately, I envision the entities becoming self-perpetuating. As the real estate acquisition or build-out costs are amortized over time, and operational costs stabilize, each node may be able to throw off cash for the expansion of the network.

I can be a thought leader for the concept, in fact, that is a major requirement for me to be able to lead an organization in this particular space. I need to start writing about this, critiquing my competition, and connecting future partners and collaborators.

Because this entity is mission-based, and seeks to create a response and support structure for other mission-based organizations employees’ housing needs, we will have the goodwill of these partners. Residents themselves will resonate with the larger purpose of their “landlord” and will potentially be more committed to its long-term success. They will be encouraged to provide volunteer service in facilitating social norms and group activities in the lodges. Some may take on governance roles, and alumni may serve on boards or advisory bodies. I know that the idea is not unique and many competitors may emerge – I hope that happens. I hope more people are able to benefit from group living, more agencies and employers can engage and sustain their employees passions to serve for longer, and more communities benefit from having these types of nodes in their midsts. In a sense, we want to build a larger segment of any given population devoted to social purpose.

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Civekos: Value Proposition Exercise

[I was working on this under the assumption that I had to limit it to one page – which led to this result. I know I could expand on these areas. See my entry from the Jason Jay “Problem Definition” workshop. Thanks!]

MLD 836 Grey Lee Class 4 Workshop – Value Proposition/Solution Questions – 9/12/17

  1. What is your theory of change?

Living in a facilitated and subsidized communal setting will improve the level of commitment of social benefit professionals. Their commitment will be improved through reduced anxiety around housing costs, through improved connections to peers in social benefit fields, and through resonant values expression in the group living setting related to communication, sharing resources, and connecting to the surrounding community. My model will further provide network benefits as the nodes of housing get organized in multiple locations.  

  1. What is the nature of the offering you create/plan to create?

The offering is a superior housing option for people committed to social sector work.

  1. Who is the main beneficiary/customers?

People who are working in the public/social sector, generally young and single, who want to live in a group setting. Their employers may also benefit as they could participate in subsidising the housing for less cost than increasing payroll costs (a higher net benefit to the housed employee). The community benefits from being more welcoming for a longer duration the social servants.

  1. What social/public value do you create?

Reduced housing and household costs and elongated terms of public service.

  1. What is the next best alternative to solving the problem?

People can find cheap housing in inferior buildings/facilities and without the structured interaction, the socio-professional synergies, or linkages to the local community. Employees can negotiate to attain higher income to offset their increasing housing costs as their preferences shift over time.

  1. Can you calculate/describe why your solution is better, being as specific as possible?

We will have to develop the financial model in regards to how our facilities’ units cost in comparison to a market rate for similar housing. Fundamentally, by aligning philanthropy to engage in the real estate, we can magnify their benefit to public service professionals in a new way. Structuring the housing experience for people, new to the work, helps them connect and stabilize their social life/professional responsibilities.

In terms of benefits to residents, there are a few:

  • Household economy: food, supplies, etc are cheaper in bulk
  • Semi-serviced domestic needs like cleaning and cooking are more efficient & higher quality
  • Group interaction is facilitated through both formal settings (weekly group dinners, group presentations, social events) and informally (casual encounters in the kitchen, impromptu networking, spontaneous social outings) for example
  • Group dynamics are moderated by established systems, group norms, grievance systems and
  • Group membership is vetted through an application by each individual – a high quality of housemates is ensured
  • A local board guides and supports the node and helps make connections (this board drawn from the subsidizing agents, community partners, and the employing entities)
  • There is pride in being connected to a larger purpose through this type of network


  1. Can you articulate a value proposition for your staff, volunteers, partners?

Our housing reduces costs and builds the capacity of social benefit professionals to thrive.

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Civekos: Problem Definition Exercise

MLD 836 Grey Lee Class 2 Workshop: Problem Definition 9/5/17

  1. What is the specific problem you are aiming to address?

Housing costs are significant for people who are working in the social sector, and many professionals leave the social sector after a few years because they feel like they won’t be able to afford to continue to live in their chosen community due to housing costs.

  1. Who has “pain points” around this problem?

Both the individuals working in the social benefit sector and the agencies and organizations that employ them. Workers move on from their preferred engagement and employers lose talented and experienced staff. Social benefit organizations have to cycle through many staff to keep their roles fulfilled.

  1. Why is this a problem to be addressed now?

Technology, design and curation can enable a new type of lower-cost and higher-amenity housing option. For-profit co-living enterprises* have started to build out communal residences but are aimed at high rent capable members. A branded, well-modeled, philanthropically-supported initiator entity can step into this mix and create a new option on the sub-market of housing for people dedicated to public service who want the benefits of group living.

Example for-profit co-living enterprises include WeLive (spin-off of WeWork coworking); Unsettled (one-month work-vacations); Roam (co-living in emerging markets); PMGx, Common, HubHaus (lite-luxury serviced apartments fostering community), and others.

  1. What is your solution and vision for success?

My organization will develop or re-purpose multi-resident buildings to be local lodges of a network of residential group living communities for individuals dedicated to social benefit work. The facilities will be somewhat like a dormitory or fraternity/sorority house for people working in the social sector. There are many related types of housing in institutions and in the cooperative sector; this new network will be more formal and more supported to create nodes of engagement and cross-disciplinary interaction to advance social benefit work in a variety of communities.

  1. What are your near term, mid-term, and long term goals?

The first order of business is to test the market and the concept. Who is already working on this and how are they not supporting social benefit professionals? Can we develop a brand and followers?

In a year, we want to run a test and model a prototype. Can we find a host or sponsoring entity – somewhere that has social benefit employees needing structured group housing? Can we find multiple of these in order to fulfil the inter-disciplinary enrichment of the community we intend? Also, is our model of group management working? What are the trade-offs that residents experience and how is our model managing friction points? Can we really say living in our lodges creates an enriching experience? How are we measuring that?

Over time, I intend to build out an organization that can forge partnerships with social benefit employers, receive and secure the residential assets, convert them and market the opportunity, and then operate the facilities and manage the community of residents.

  1. What is your end-game to establish a sustainable solution and perhaps declare “Mission Accomplished”?

If the network is self-sustaining and creating new value for non-profit and agency partners, that will be winning. This organization will be a steward of the open-source nature of the process – linking the parties into the future. We can provide standardization, research, and advocacy to support the nodes. An ongoing need will be to continue to identify new niches to support, to develop processes of self-improvement and to celebrate excellence.

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Civekos Redux

Hello Good People!

I have rebooted my plan for Civekos, the cooperative housing network for social benefit professionals.

I had an opportunity to describe the concept to some folks at Harvard Kennedy School through their Social Innovation & Change Initiative. They are seeking applicants for their Social Innovation Fellowship Program – looking for new ideas on how to innovate in the social sector. I responded by giving them my latest thoughts on Civekos. I actually didn’t bring up the name or the larger social movement of Civekoi (the renunciate members dedicated to social purposes), but I outlined the benefits of subsidized housing for social benefit professionals. You can read the application below.

I always like some photos in my blog:

Here’s a new development near my house in Cambridge (this is technically Somerville). It was a standard triple decker (three units, 6-9 bedrooms), and now looks like 8 units with more like 20 bedrooms. But probably a condo style development of separate ownership and some kind of management entity that maintains the exterior, public interior space, parking and grounds.

Here is another multi-fam development from about 30 years ago (can you tell?) on the other side of the same Beacon Street. This is also condos. It’s not that exciting to me.

Here is yet another – the more vintage multi-family alongside the new one. You can also see the elevator core of a yet next building going up – this on the site of what had been a single-story ~3000sf commercial building. I knew it was going to get redeveloped and am surprised it took the owners so long to shift it from what it was to residential.

My larger thoughts are about who and why people are going to move into these places, and what and how they could be designed and operated for greater social benefit. Building a similar amount of domiciles using a cooperative household or togetherment model could result in stronger linkages among residents and between them and the surrounding community.

That is one of my areas of interest.

But regarding Civekos and housing for people dedicated to social purposes like teaching and social work, here is the pitch I provided. Actually, here is the application description and the questions they were asking. Briefly, the selection criteria are:

  • Provides evidence of real commitment to a specific social issue and the people adversely affected by the current state.
  • Demonstrates a clear connection between the Fellowship and long- and short-term post-graduation goals.
  • Approaches innovation with a learning mindset.

While I was concerned that my concept is something of a “meta-solution” rather than a specific intervention into a social problem, I am hopeful that it can be seen as a good aspect of a broad solution effort, and an actual innovation in how we provide compensation and residential tenure security for people who choose to pursue non-commercial professions.

Here is the application essay (four questions):

  1. What public problem or social issue are you passionate about? Why do you care? Please discuss 1) how you came to understand the problem through academic, personal, and/or professional experience, or other activities, and 2) your personal motivation to contribute to a solution. (500 words or less)

I want more people to be able to commit to long-term work in the social benefit sector, yet many leave because of fears about housing costs. Many people working in non-profits, or government agencies, or teaching, or other social benefit work, spend a few years of enthusiastic service and then leave and start new careers in the private sector in order to earn more income. Social benefit professionals can become income sensitive especially when challenged by housing cost that are rising rapidly in their community.

This is a clearly seen problem in many places. My personal motivation stems from a systems perspective where I envision multi-resident housing “lodges” for social benefit professionals throughout the world. A network would evolve and adapt for different locations and different populations.


Imagine facilities similar to youth hostels, but with long-term residents, sharing in a group living setting and taking various responsibilities for house/facility management, developing and strengthening their commitment to social benefit service work. Each node in the network would provide not only a reasonable-cost housing option for social benefit professionals, but also a micro-community of curated colleagues which could support each other’s intentions and provide emotional & professional support. The lodges would be centers for continuous learning, maturing, and networking, regardless of the specific professional work a member performs. The facilities could model distributed education for sharing best practices, integrating with surrounding communities, and facilitating long-term commitment to social benefit work.


  1. How will you use this opportunity to make change happen? Please describe the factors that led you to apply for this particular Fellowship and how you anticipate using your time to develop and advance your social innovation project. (500 words or less)

If selected to participate in the Cheng Fellowship program, I will be able to focus on researching, modeling and building out a network of housing for social benefit professionals. There are many examples of how people who are providing social benefit work find housing. Major institutions like the Catholic Church and the military provide housing as a matter of course for their members, who are performing social benefit work. I have found many semi-similar affordable housing models but nothing quite specific to reward social benefit work and reduce the total household costs for this type of professional by reducing housing costs. Across the globe, there are a variety of institutional structures which address housing and also connect social benefit work to housing, but usually these are directly connected to a specific institution – the housing is only for associated workers. There could be a more open-source brand and non-affiliated (non-religious and/or non-political) to link multiple employers to a housing benefit. It would not be unlike other types of benefits social oriented workers find: such as student debt forgiveness, schedule flexibility, food or travel allowances etc. Entities like Teach for America or small social service non-profits observe that their fellows and staff do find low-cost housing on the market, yet this is a missed opportunity to create a better benefit package and better experience for these employees.


I will use my time at Harvard to tap into the resources and academic connections to learn how to create a social enterprise which would meet the demand for this type of housing. I will explore the legal structures necessary, such as urban land trusts and community development corporations. I will research the governance structures that would be needed, such as decision-making processes and conflict resolution. I would determine ways to select residents and/or how can the nodes in the network be self-organizing, independently appropriately responsive to their localities and generate net positive benefit.


  1. How can we be sure that you will still be working on this post-graduation? And if you aren’t sure, why? (250 words or less)

I have had a dream about this concept since at least 2011 when I first worked on it as a part of my Environmental Leadership Program ( cohort research project. Due to my professional trajectory, I have not had sufficient bandwidth to truly build out the model. However, I have been living in a prototype of this housing, my 11-person residential cooperative household, since 2004 (which had been founded in 1963). I am an active participant in the cooperative housing community in the Boston area and can see a real opportunity to build out a network to meet the needs of social benefit professionals in many places. I want to use my year at HKS to focus on an audacious concept like this and learn how to iterate until we have a self-perpetuating social enterprise dedicated to delivering low-cost housing to this population. It may be a technology or communications platform, or it may be as evolved as a non-profit real estate development entity financing, building and managing these facilities.


  1. What characteristics, skills, or experiences demonstrate that you will be able to attract and mobilize money, people, and institutional support around your cause? (250 words or less)

People know me as a charismatic and engaging person who can rally support to a cause. I have had reasonable success growing small organizations into stable operations. In attracting support, I have worked to earn grants, various sized corporate donations, and built out income-earning programs and fee-for-service contracting. I have been involved in real estate, building, community development and planning throughout my entire professional life. The topic of housing cost is hot, and facilitating more people into social service can attract a coalition of supportive institutions. The idea of grouping people in “co-living” arrangements is also contemporary: adding to the group living experience a shared social mission orientation will strengthen the nodes in the network. Financial and in-kind support will come from traditional social service support entities (like CDC’s and city agencies), and from “start-up” oriented actors who can see this as a new model to address social needs. Having developed two non-profits from scratch, and having grown other entities through hard work and leadership, I believe I can tackle this problem and build a new organization to solve the dilemma of housing cost for social benefit professionals.


[Stay in touch!]


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Sights of Rome!

Of course spending some time in the Eternal City would result in the seeing of some sights.

I have collected a few of my shots on the general topic of touristic sights here.

I will indulge you in a separate entry on “Structure” – my take on the details of my strolling.

One of my all-time faves here now: The Pantheon. What a great place.

This is a lovely little bridge we went over a few times. There were buskers. Great music. A piano even! And people just hanging out. On a Monday night.

I know this is some famous church. I can’t recall the name. You can tell me. It’s quintessential.

This is another quintessential pic: mopeds and arches.

I think this is a little hidden Etruscan gem. Who could it be?

And of course the big boy: El Colosseu!

Random ancient stuff:

This place was so crowded, I was getting freaked out. Somehow I took a picture without being able to tell that ten thousand people were crowding around me.

This is a statue of some important figure who was used as a sounding board and complaint system during the time of some autocratic popes who really didn’t want to listen to anyone. There is a lot more to this story but here you go:

I had to have a picture of me looking somewhat regal or fascist. From Palatine Hill. A nice little side-garden in front of the museum. We had too much fun looking at duomos and missed the cut-off for going into the museum – suddenly it was past 7pm. Great days in Rome!

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Structure: Rome

While in Rome, my eagle eye spotted all sorts of visual treasures.

More of the collection is in an album here; below are some of my faves.


At Diocletian’s Baths:

Looking up:




Planar Geometry:

I have a whole series of these: buildings at night with one light on…

I thought this was cute:

And this one was rather bold:

This is looking into some fancy embassy’s main hall…must be some nice parties have happened in there!

This was on Instagram…and the BLUE!

Loads of great doors in Rome. I could do a whole post about this.

Here’s a little door…liked the texture…

More stone and masonry texture… and antennae…

The PANTHEON at night. Just a classic.

And this was looking through a window grate at a little old shop. Maybe a tailor? Maybe an insurance broker?



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Fun in Rome!

Whew! It was actually kind of hard. A few days in Rome. With Fabio & Raquel. What a couple! And don’t forget João – he is a good kid.

I arrived in Rome and immediately we had to go get ice cream. Mieko, another Burning Man connection, had been cleaning up the apartment (this was a place that Fabio had once lived in, which he had been subletting to various people for the past dozen years, which was now vacant of tenants and in-between renovations…long story). Dean, Mieko’s man, had just arrived from having been in the States for a wedding, in the middle of their “year around the world” trip. We all went out. Fabio gave us a tour of the town from his place, near Termini, to the Pantheon. Then we walked around for two and a half hours. Wow! That was a lot of fun.

Actually, we had dinner first – then ice cream. This is Fabio, Raquel, Joao, Mieko, and Dean. And me in the awkward selfie location.

Here we are at the nearby street market – generally excited about things!

Here are a bunch of the photos. And some choice shots below.

Grey and Fabio getting coffee across the street from the flat – this is every morning. I’m sad I didn’t get the two very engaging barristas who work here – what a hoot!

Raquel modeling her Cleu Camp (our Burning Man camp) tatoo, while at the deli getting some supplies for our Todi trip.

Mieko made “acqua fresca” from the watermelon: just add lime juice. Refreshing!

Here is some fun in Rome – a guy trying to clean the crenelations in the basilica of Diocletian’s Baths…it is a pretty big place.

Grey, Danielo & Fabio had lunch at the Teatro Quirino – an excellent spot with great food and books, quite close to the Trevi Fountain but we had the place to ourselves. Really relaxing. Great music. We were able to sneak a peek into the stage to see a modern dance performance practicing. Very cool.

On one of the days, we went to the beach. It was fun!

And had pizza on the way back to the City.

We had a lot of great wanderings – this is just one example from the blog entry about “Sights” – which is almost as good as the one with “Structure” – even though this one about “People” is the best!

This is us at the last dinner – in a piazza in the Jewish Quarter – all showing off our Cleu Mandalas.

Ah, and here is the two lovelies just doing there thing:

And this is one of my favorites. When we got back from dinner, we were wondering where to park. There is a little street near the flat. Can we park here? Looking closely you’ll see that cars and mopeds are parked in all directions (actually in Rome you are supposed to part with traffic, unlike in Boston, but as is in Cambridge). The street was actually one way heading in to us – so we had to figure out an alternative. The sign was actually placed in such a way that it couldn’t be turned to face the direction of the jurisdiction…but I didn’t get a pic while we were laughing at it. Roma! Always smiling.

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