Frequently Asked Questions


What can I expect at the event?

The Hearing will feature transformative local projects and initiatives at the cutting edge of community-led economic development and empowerment. You will hear directly from the innovators and practitioners working on the ground to make New York city and state a more just and sustainable home for New Yorkers of color. Overall, the event will provide a comprehensive introduction to the theory and practice of economic democracy as a strategy for advancing racial and economic justice in New York and beyond.


Who should come to the Hearing?

Anyone and everyone in New York who believes that New Yorkers should have a greater say in the way the city’s economic resources are distributed. We are expecting people from across the city to attend. Residents, workers, practitioners, politicians, academics, students, community, organizers, representatives from business and labor, and others.


If I can’t make it, how can I stay involved?

There are lots of ways for you to stay involved! In the lead up to the Hearing on Economic Democracy, we are collecting digital testimonies in response to the Hearing question, “How do we build an economy that works for New Yorkers of color?” On our Testimonies page, you can watch other testimionies and find directions on how to submit your own—we might even select yours to show at the Hearing. To receive announcements and updates related to the Hearing, you can sign up for our email list.

What is economic democracy?

Economic democracy means more control for everyday New Yorkers over their economic circumstances, and an equitable share of the wealth that our economy generates. Two strategies at the heart of economic democracy are collective ownership of economic assets and democratic management of those assets by those most directly connected to and impacted by them. If you are interested in learning more about economic democracy, the Bronx Cooperative Development Initiative has some helpful resources for further reading.


Who is organizing the Hearing?


The Hearing on Economic Democracy is being sponsored by 13 New York City and State elected officials in partnership with the MIT Community Innovators Lab (CoLab). MIT CoLab is a center for planning and development within the MIT Department of Urban Studies and Planning (DUSP). CoLab convened the 13 New York City and State elected officials as part of the Mel King Community Fellowship. To learn more about the Fellows, visit our Sponsors page.

What is the MIT CoLab Mel King Community Fellowship?


The MIT Community Innovators Lab’s Mel King Community Fellows (MKCF) Program embodies the legacy of Mel King, a still-active champion of cities and the communities they comprise. Each class of MKCFs has a specific focus vetted by leaders in the field and related to economic democracy, community well-being, and the future of cities. The program’s goal is to create a dispersed learning network among the Fellows for co-creating knowledge. Through MIT-based convenings, as well as field-based learning journeys, peer learning and prototyping, the program provides participants an opportunity to examine:

  1. Innovative models of planning and development that advance community wellbeing;

  2. New methods and approaches to enable these models;

  3. Tools and practices for collaborative innovation.

You can learn more about the work of the Fellowship over the past year here and about MIT CoLab’s programs creating innovations with communities at the margins, at MIT CoLab website.