Betting on the Bay: Jorge Blandón
Jamie Allison: Let’s get started! Jorge, what characteristics make a city or region vibrant?
Jorge Blandón: Richness of diversity — diversity of thoughts, perspectives, culture, economy, and also opportunity.
JA: And what is it about the Bay Area that keeps you here?
JB: There is a lot of innovation — and I’m not just talking about tech. Creativity exists in this community and manifests itself in different ways of thinking about building community, building assets, about ownership, around businesses.
JA: I feel like the Bay Area dream is distinct from the American dream in some ways. What’s something that you have seen or have experienced that is possible in the Bay Area that might not be possible anywhere else?
JB: There is a significant concentration of people willing to think outside the box here. That in itself just allows for so much to happen. But there’s this tension between how amazing the Bay Area is and how hard it is to live here. So, if you want to be here you have to be so innovative.
You have to be so innovative at the community and at the family level. Conditions force people to be creative, pull together resources, create businesses — formal and informal — and connect with each other to a degree that they would not have to otherwise. That piece is unique. It’s a product of this environment.
JA: Family Independence Initiative has a unique approach to supporting families in meeting their economic, academic, and life goals. What values underpin its approach?
JB: We believe every person has the innate ability, strength, initiative, capacity, and imagination to work individually and collectively for a better future. Knowing that people are capable is fundamental. If you build from that, you trust people, families, and low-income communities to look after each other and make the right decisions for themselves.
All we do is create an environment of trust in which low income families can work together.