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Black History Month: Black In Business

View More: http://edwardunderwood.pass.us/nspiregreenMy mind races and my heart swells as I reflect with pride on the ability of black people to persevere and overcome in these United States. 400 years ago, in 1619, the first enslaved people from Africa were brought to the shores of the United States of America, landing in Jamestown, Virginia. From slavery to Jim Crow laws, which were abolished in the latter part of the 20th Century, to current institutionalized forms of discrimination we press forward.

Although this forward movement is evident in all facets of life such as education, entertainment, and politics there is still a considerable amount to grow, particularly in the business world. While rates of black entrepreneurship are astoundingly high in certain sectors, I do question how many businesses in the government contracting arena have experienced the ability to build wealth – especially firms that are still in the subcontracting space.

As a professional services firm that wants to grow our capabilities to prime more projects, we have often found ourselves as subcontractors beholden to nominal percentages and abnormally slow payment processes that threaten the solvency of our business. It often feels like programs designed to help such as the Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program and others pigeon hole us in a way that larger companies either don’t realize or are accustomed to. For example, if a project states that 30% should go to DBE firms that percentage is often split up over a number of companies making the revenue generation and ability to build the capacity of the business pretty low.

If I were alone in this feeling, I wouldn’t be writing this piece; however, I’ve talked to a number of minority companies who live this experience regularly. We are often told to not lead with our status as a minority business but on the flip side, we are often only called because we meet that requirement on a contract. I’ve had this stated explicitly. It’s disheartening that because there are programs designed to ensure some level of fairness and collaboration for underrepresented groups, there is often a perception of less value add and inability to perform.

Business ownership can create the opportunity to bring generations out of poverty, build communities, and create prosperity. Until minority businesses are seen for the value that they bring to the table, the diversity of thought, technical merit, and the quality of our work, I wonder if we will be able to truly flourish in a system that still marginalizes our contributions and takes advantage of our disadvantages.   While there are ways to overcome and outgrow some of this, it’s an unfortunate box we maneuver around – being black in business.


Chanceé Lundy Russell is the Co-Founder of Nspiregreen LLC a community, multimodal, and environmental planning firm based in Washington, DC. The Selma, Alabama native received her BS in Environmental Science from Alabama A&M University and her MS in Civil Engineering from Florida State University. She is passionate about environmental justice issues and works to create healthy, livable communities for all.

Thailand Crash

Thailand’s Deadly Roads and the Global Pandemic of Traffic Crashes

A total of 463 people died in 3,791 traffic crashes in Thailand between December 27, 2018 and January 2 of 2019. Yes, you read correctly. In the span of seven days, 463 people lost their lives during the country’s “seven dangerous days” over the New Year holiday when Thais were traveling to visit friends and family for the one week festival. This was an increase to 2017’s 423 deaths during the “seven dangerous days”.

Thailand’s roads are the deadliest roads in Southeast Asia. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated 22,941 people die each year in traffic crashes in Thailand. That’s an average of 62 deaths per day. 73% of those deaths are people riding motorcycles, which have become the most popular form of transportation for many households. Thailand is also ranked 2nd in the world for most lethal roads after Libya by the World Health Organization. Their road collision-related death rate is 32.7 out of every 100,000 people. In Libya, in 2015 their reported rate was 73.4 deaths out of every 100,000 people. In United States an estimated 40,100 people were killed in 2017 with a current death rate of 12.4 out of every 100,000 people. But understand that even though United States has a higher total of traffic crashes per year than Thailand it has a lesser rate because United States has an overall population of 325.7 million whereas Thailand has a population of 69.04 million.

Why is Thailand’s traffic fatality rate so high? One of the noted obstacles to safer roads is lack of enforcement of traffic rules. Drunk driving and speeding are the most reported causes of crashes. In addition to drunk driving and speeding, the failure to wear helmets and seatbelts and the lack of restraints for children are among the biggest risks for road safety that is embedded in the culture. Cultural habits can be difficult to change. The number of police traffic stops have increased in certain areas and there have been more signs mandating motorcyclists to wear helmets, but are those the only factors when it comes to tackling this problem, especially if they have proven to not be efficient enough?

Road safety is a worldwide issue that is not addressed enough. Road crashes have been labeled a global pandemic by the Pulitzer Center and are the eighth leading cause of death for people of all ages, with 1.35 million people dying on the road in 2016. These crashes and untimely deaths are preventable.  Globally, there are proper measures to approach this great issue that requires a collaboration of disciplines:

  • Policies and enforcement in regards to proper speed limits, alcohol impairment, seat-belt use, child restraints, and safety helmets.
  • Adequate road design and transportation facilities (bicycle, pedestrian, motorcycles, and transit). When possible separate motor vehicles from more vulnerable modes such as people walking and biking. Promoting safer and more efficient travel for all users: motorists, bicyclists, motorcyclists, and pedestrians. Placing traffic calming and proper signage.
  • Encouraging and implementing the use of safe and flexible modes of public transportation.
  • Powerful public awareness campaigns
  • Making vehicles more protective and visible for occupants, pedestrians, and cyclists. Using high-mounted brake lights and reflective materials on cycles, carts, rickshaws and other non-motorized forms of transport.

For something so preventable, traffic crashes in Thailand and around the world really need a bigger outcry.

Jazmin Kimble is an Urban Planner and Urban Designer  from Long Island, NY. She has a passion for empowering and planning adequate, equitable communities through the lens of Geodesign, Urban Design, Community Development, Architectural Design, Sustainability, Environmental Solutions, and Community Engagement. Jazmin believes the culture and the history of a community is what makes it unique. This approach allows her to design with communities from a holistic viewpoint.

Money-Capitol-Hill

The importance of Financial Stability

Individuals and families are faced with the challenges of an economic crisis, while trying to maintain or achieve financial stability. Majority of people in the United States are either low and middle class, while 1% includes the upper class that makes up 40% of the nation’s wealth. In addition, almost 80% of families live paycheck to paycheck and are unable to maintain financial stability in the event of an emergency. For many this means receiving financial aid from federal, state or private funded programs.

One common goal for many individuals and families is to obtain financial stability; but, how can you achieve this goal, when you consistently face economic challenges? Many families are faced with limited income due to the lack of personal savings. No one’s situation is the same; however, many are faced with similar circumstances. Financial stability can also affect businesses.

What does this mean? This means that everyone is trying to survive economic loss without compromising their lifestyle. There will always be economical challenges, however individuals and families need to better prepare financially in the event of an emergency.

Financial Stability is being able to still pay your debts, bills, personal savings, financial goals and savings in the event of an emergency. One way to achieve this goal, is by implementing the following steps below:

• Make your finances personal
• Understand that the most important investment is yourself
• Earn income by doing something you enjoy
• Start a budget
• Live below your means
• Create an emergency fund
• Pay off your debt
• Invest for retirement
• Make sure you have some fun
• Stick with it!

Take charge of your personal finances to live life on your terms without living paycheck to paycheck. This seems like an unreachable dream, but it is very much within your reach. While I won’t make specific recommendations here, your local library has books that can help you reach your financial goals and add some financial stability to your household. Use the resources available to you to lighten the burden during economically hard times.





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