Civicist: Bed-Stuy Strong: Scaling Mutual Aid During COVID-19

On Tuesday evening, several dozen Brooklynites gathered together in one of the only spaces available to us right now—on Zoom—to sing Happy Birthday. But the honoree wasn’t a person; it was the one-month anniversary of Bed-Stuy Strong, a mutual aid network that was started to respond to the coronavirus crisis in New York City, and to give residents in the Brooklyn neighborhood of Bedford-Stuyvesant—where I’ve lived since 2011—a way to help and to seek help from their neighbors. Since early March, more than 250 mutual aid groups have emerged in mostly urban neighborhoods across the country, all of them undoubtedly juggling similar challenges of coordinating volunteers, needs, tasks, and money as the crisis intensifies.

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New Food Economy: Stop & Shop now has big, goofy-looking robots patrolling its aisles. What, exactly, is the goal?

I met Marty in the produce section of a Stop & Shop in Bristol, Rhode Island. I was looking for vegetables to grill over hot coals, while Marty roamed the aisles, big, round eyes staring vacantly ahead, searching for spills and other hazards—with electric sensors strategically placed on its tall, rectangular form. Marty, you see, is a supermarket robot. Read more…

Conversationalist: Don’t Thank Google

Earlier this week, Google opened their temporary “Grow with Google New York City Learning Center” on the first floor of the company’s Chelsea offices. The “pop-up” space embodies techno-optimism: well-lit classrooms with nearly floor-to-ceiling windows, decorated in neutrals with occasional pops of primary colors, and well-stocked with Google Chromebooks. For five months, the technology company will provide free and open-to-the-public classes on topics like “Manage Projects More Effectively with Online Tools” and “Make Your Website Work For You.”

The vast majority of classes are based on Google products: Learn to manage projects with Google Sheets; get your business online with Google My Business; discover new job opportunities with Google Search. In other words, Google is further entrenching their business monopoly under the pretence of helping entrepreneurs and job seekers. The company is cynically deploying the American dream of hard work and the self-made success story for its own benefit, expecting New Yorkers to thank them for the opportunity to help make Google even richer and more powerful. Read more…

New Food Economy: Soon we’ll use smartphones to trace our food on the blockchain. But there’s a catch: We’ll be traced, too.

Foodies interested in the provenance of their groceries may have to give up something in return: their privacy.

The “internet of everything” (IoE) is coming to a grocery store near you. With a tap of your phone, you’ll be able to find out where your heritage pork was raised and your bluefin tuna caught—in theory. Read more…