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These before-and-afters will make you question everything about how our economy works.

You'd think it was some sort of natural disaster. Nope. Totally man-made.

These before-and-afters will make you question everything about how our economy works.


Images via GooBingDetroit.

Yup. These images were taken only two years apart. And what you're seeing was not an accident.

When the economy crashed in 2008, it was because of shady financial practices like predatory lending and speculative investing, which is basically gambling, only the entire economy was at stake.


When the recession hit, it literally hit home for millions of people. And Detroit was right in the middle of it.

I spoke with Alex Alsup, who works with a Detroit-based tech company that's mapping the city's foreclosed homes to help city officials see the bigger picture and find solutions. He also runs the Tumblr GooBingDetroit, where he uses Google Street View's time machine to document the transformation of Detroit's neighborhoods over the last few years.


It's a pretty cool feature that you can try out for yourself.

"There's a common sentiment that Detroit's looked the way it does for decades, but it's just not true," Alsup said.

It's astonishing to see how quickly so many homes went from seemingly delightful to wholly unlivable.


GIF via GooBingDetroit.

When the recession went into full force, home values took a nosedive. But the city expected homeowners to pay property taxes as if they hadn't.

Not only does the situation defy logic, but it's like a brass-knuckled face punch to the people the city is supposed to be looking out for. Alsup explains:

"You had houses — tens of thousands of them — that were worth only $20,000 or so, yet owed $4,000 a year in taxes, for which very few city services were delivered (e.g. police, fire, roads, schools). Who would pay that?"

Indeed.


GIF via GooBingDetroit.

A local group calls what happened to Detroit a "hurricane without water."

And like a real hurricane, homeowners aren't the ones to blame. They're even calling for what is essentially a federal disaster response.

Here are the three strategies they want to see in action — and they can work for basically anywhere in the country that's struggling with a housing crisis.

1. Stop kicking people out of their homes.

They want the city to end foreclosures and evictions from owner-occupied homes. Many people aren't just losing their homes — they've lost jobs, pensions, and services because of budget cuts. Putting them on the street is like a kick in the teeth when they're down.

2. If a home is worth less on the market than what the homeowner owes on their loan, reduce what they owe.

Those are called underwater mortgages. Banks caused this mess, and governments ignored it. It's only fair that people's mortgages be adjusted based the current value of their home.

3. Sell repossessed homes at fair prices to people who actually want to live in them.

Selling to banks and investors only encourages what led to the financial crisis in the first place. Wouldn't it make more sense to sell to people who are going to live in them and have a genuine interest in rebuilding the community?

Housing is a human right. And an economy based on financial markets doesn't care about human rights. Maybe it's time for a new economy?

Click play below for a silent cruise down a once lovely residential block in Detroit.

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If the past year has taught us nothing else, it's that sending love out into the world through selfless acts of kindness can have a positive ripple effect on people and communities. People all over the United States seemed to have gotten the message — 71% of those surveyed by the World Giving Index helped a stranger in need in 2020. A nonprofit survey found 90% helped others by running errands, calling, texting and sending care packages. Many people needed a boost last year in one way or another and obliging good neighbors heeded the call over and over again — and continue to make a positive impact through their actions in this new year.

Welcometoterranova and P&G Good Everyday wanted to help keep kindness going strong, so they partnered up to create the Lead with Love Fund. The fund awards do-gooders in communities around the country with grants to help them continue on with their unique missions. Hundreds of nominations came pouring in and five winners were selected based on three criteria: the impact of action, uniqueness, and "Welcometoterranova-ness" of their story.

Here's a look at the five winners:

Edith Ornelas, co-creator of Mariposas Collective in Memphis, Tenn.

Edith Ornelas has a deep-rooted connection to the asylum-seeking immigrant families she brings food and supplies to families in Memphis, Tenn. She was born in Jalisco, Mexico, and immigrated to the United States when she was 7 years old with her parents and sister. Edith grew up in Chicago, then moved to Memphis in 2016, where she quickly realized how few community programs existed for immigrants. Two years later, she helped create Mariposas Collective, which initially aimed to help families who had just been released from detention centers and were seeking asylum. The collective started out small but has since grown to approximately 400 volunteers.