Who, you may ask yourself, is Man-About-Town and why should I bother with what he has to say? For the past 4 years I ran an organization called the Center for New York City Neighborhoods (www.cnycn.org) – an entity created to coordinate the citywide response to the foreclosure crisis. Over that time we worked with more than 15,000 single and small multi-family homeowners at risk of losing their homes, developed special loss mitigation strategies with banks and servicers, trained counseling and legal service providers monthly, built a $6 million loan fund to help people keep their homes, and provided research and advocacy that impacted city, state and federal legislative efforts.
Before that, I worked in community development for ten years at Deutsche Bank (www.db.com/community). There I made loans, investments and grants to nonprofits developing affordable housing, supporting small businesses, and pursuing environmental sustainability. I also worked with arts organizations around the city to understand the impact of the creative sector on the local economy.
I’ve served and continue to serve on numerous local boards and advisory groups focused on affordable housing, arts and economic development, and other policy and economic issues. These include the Federal Reserve Bank of NY’s Community Affairs Advisory Committee, the Naturally Occurring Cultural Districts Working Group, Sustainable South Bronx, the NYC Workforce Development Funders’ Group, and others.
Finally, for the past six years I’ve also been an active amateur artist, producing musical theater with my partner Ryan Gilliam for Downtown Art (www.downtownart.org): a theater that “works with teen artists to create original theater, music, and performance events and to champion the capacities of young people in a world which often dismisses their contributions.”
For more on my bona fides, you can check out my LinkedIn profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/hickster.
More than anything else, I’ve developed relationships with lots and lots of really amazing folks in NYC and beyond. People who have dedicated their professional (and frequently their personal lives as well) to making NYC a better place – especially for those who lack access to power, capital and information. I’ve worked with public officials, bankers, philanthropists, advocates, developers, nonprofit executives, community organizers, and citizens on a wide array of topics.
In Man-About-Town, I’m trying to convey their thoughts and perspectives as well as my own – not so much reportage as anecdote. I think what I have to offer is made much richer by reference to their work, and I will do my best to acknowledge their voices throughout my writing so you can link directly to them yourself for further investigation and inquiry.
I always welcome your thoughts, and I’m always happy to connect you personally to anyone in my network (so long as they agree, of course). I hope my writing goes beyond communicating concepts to helping people access each other directly as resources and supports.