A Hello and Recommended Reading from Communications and Development

Hi, everyone. I’m very excited to be working as Woodstock Institute’s new Communications and Development Associate. Woodstock has a lot of exciting projects for the coming year, and I look forward to a unique and interesting experience adapting Woodstock’s communications and development strategies to frame and highlight developments on the policy and research side. 

As our 2016 Policy Agenda laid out, this upcoming year will see us increasingly focus on issues surrounding small business lending. My hope is that Woodstock’s work on these issues will provide valuable insights into questions concerning economic access, community wealth-generation, and new ways of addressing the kinds of predatory lending practices that produce and maintain systemic inequities. In educating myself about Woodstock’s research and policy work, I have taken advantage of a number of resources from other outlets. I’d like to share a few links I’ve come across, as a way of describing the conditions to which Woodstock is responding: 

Among the things to which I’ve been paying attention, perhaps the most recent and exciting has been the roll-out of Black Youth Project 100’s Agenda to Build Black Futures. BYP 100’s focus on financial literacy, their call for accountability for payday lending’s targeting of African American populations, and their understanding of the relationship between community revitalization and economic development are all very exciting aspects of the group’s mission. The Agenda presents a thorough analysis, and I encourage anyone with an interest in financial justice to follow activists working on these issues as they relate to and resonate with race.

This New York Times article from last year concisely details the mechanisms of discriminatory lending and its larger community impacts. The treatment and explanation of redlining is particularly salient here. 

For a good primer on the subject of payday lending, I would refer Woodstock followers to Susanne Soederberg’s October 2014 piece, which situates payday lending within a larger history of predatory loan practices.

Finally, for an overview of the piece of legislation that influences much of Woodstock’s day-to-day work, try this White House summary of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act. Dodd-Frank created the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) that we refer to often in our reports and policy advocacy. A lot of our work comes out of Dodd-Frank Section 1071—which is where most of the law’s regulatory teeth are—and it’s important for consumers to have at least a “broad strokes” understanding of the law.

I hope that you find these links useful! As I continue in my work at Woodstock, I will do my best to direct our readers to sources that are both engaging and informative and to highlight diverse and substantial voices on topics of economic fairness and community prosperity.