W3, Challenges & Sustainability of New York City, Daisy Liu

W3, Challenges & Sustainability of New York City, Daisy Liu

The third week of New York Module is about social entrepreneurship and sustainability. After the first two weeks, I got an impression that New York City is innovative, creative and prosperous. Nevertheless, some challenges also exist. Although NYC is famous for rich investment bankers, I came across homeless people all the time. While rich people live luxury life in Manhattan, low income people in eastern coast are struggling with making a live.

Windy, the founder of Green Map System, showed us the neighborhood of low-income communities in South East of Manhattan. This area was hit hard by hurricane sandy in 2012. Thanks to Mayor Michael Bloomberg, the region was rebuilt. However, when walking around, I feel a very different atmosphere here from other parts of Manhattan. The houses/apartments here are much lower and older. Facilities are far less modern and it’s even difficult to find a good cafe. Most of community gardens are closed. Windy said that there were addicts and thieves in the region so people feel unsafe to open their gardens. I also observed that some kids hanging out on the street when they were supposed to stay at school. The inequality of development creates social unrests and hatred. Poor people hate the rich.

I could not help thinking how could NYC improve the poor’s living standard? One word popped up: education. Guest speaker Daniel Pianko was an expert in education industry. He said that the technology would shape the industry dramatically in the coming decades. His point is that education in future should be cheaper and capability-oriented. A lot of universities, especially those in the middle of the education system, would very likely to be replaced by new education entities like General Assembly.

Brooklyn Grange and Brooklyn Research are two interesting social entrepreneurial startups. As their names indicate, both of them locate in Brooklyn, a very fast growing and new innovative center in NYC. Brooklyn Grange is focusing on rooftop farms. It leverages scientific planting knowledge and sophisticated business management expertise and grew very fast. The rooftop farms could provide urban citizens with local organic vegetables and fruits in an efficient way. The idea is fantastic! Brooklyn Research is an innovative design startup founded by 3 NYU graduates. They specialize on 3D printing technologies. It’s amazed to see the unique products they produced. Although 3D printing technology is far from commercialization, I strongly believe it will impact manufacturing industry significantly in the near future.

The company visits of Rudin management and Wework are also fun. The new energy track system used by Rudin saves the companies millions of energy bills annually. The co-work space that Wework provides are very popular among young startups and is very efficient. Both of them present good examples and business opportunities which we could use in our own countries.

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