Owned: A Tale of Two Americas

Yesterday, we had the west coast premiere of Giorgio’s documentary film, ‘Owned: A Tale of Two Americas’ at the SF Doc Fest.  Here are tidbits:

For those in the Bay Area, it is playing again at the Roxie on Wednesday night at 9:30pm, and will be at other film festivals too.  Giorgio is hoping to have the film picked up by Netflix or similar entity, and possibly explore a series where he breaks out each piece of the film for further discovery.

The film turned out differently than expected. When Giorgio first started the project, he planned to document how suburbia fared during the mortgage crisis – that’s how I got involved. But as the filming progressed, the subject of the film turned dramatically.

An excerpt from this review:

In Owned, the bigger story revolves around a contrarian interpretation of the usually unassailable notion that home ownership is an essential element of the American dream.

“What the film is trying to say is that it’s this double-edged sword,” Angelini says. “Owning a home is great and it provides security, and if you do it the right way it builds strong communities. It dictates where you go to school and your propensity to move up socioeconomically. But at the same time, if you let capital interests invade this utopian ideal and run amok, it can quickly become commoditized to a point that it becomes dangerous for society.”

Through the stark sights of abandoned construction projects in sweeping vistas, Angelini posits that the housing industry is an insatiable beast that subsists on the back of an ultimately self-crippling economic culture.

“The idea of home had been reduced to the most efficient capitalistic desires,” Angelini says. “Instead of bushels of oranges, they decided the best land use was a collection of air-conditioned square feet. There was lack of human intention, where you could almost feel these [markets] printing out this landscape of homes.”

Owned is also a tale of two Americas. In the five years he spent making the film, Angelini expanded his view into other planned development communities and ran headlong into how racial and economic segregation is inextricably linked to middle-class suburbia after World War II.

“The original idea behind the film was rooted in the relationship between design and commoditization,” Angelini says. “It became very clear that I couldn’t tell that story without telling the other side.”

The film goes to hollowed-out neighborhoods in Baltimore to locate the contemporary effects of decades of discriminatory housing practices and policies.

“White flight didn’t happen by accident,” Angelini says. “It wasn’t a self-selecting, albeit racist, situation. It was very much encouraged by federal laws that were interpreted on the local level in particularly bad ways.”

Other video excerpts here – hopefully we’ll have a local showing before long:


Seminar Results

laker lion

I was in Las Vegas doing what I could to help Laker great Lamar Odom, and happened to swing by the Z-Group event for their premier agents.

The big wigs rolled out a couple of new features, Stan did his presentation, and then they had breakout sessions that included speaker panels with agents who are devoted customers.

No one could blame them for inviting their most successful agents on stage – it’s what you would expect.  But the numbers they discussed were staggering.

Robert Slack was just a single agent for a couple of decades.

In 2014, he had four agents working for him.  Now he employs 34 agents – and expects that number to be up to 40 agents by the end of 2015.

Zillow sells ‘impressions’ on a listing page, based on zip codes – he has bought exposure in 92 zip codes in Florida!

His team closed 42 sales last month. He wants to close 1,000 sales in 2016!

Robert works in central Florida, and serves Orlando, Ft. Lauderdale, Tampa, Sarasota and Venice. He sells houses priced mostly from $100,000 to $400,000 – which is a very affordable price range.  There was another agent from Missouri who had similar success – but his sales were at the same price point.

This team approach built around Zillow buyer leads can be very effective.  The team leaders can build the machine and check out too – the Missouri guy said he spent all summer at the beach.

Could realtors in higher-end areas use Zillow advertising to achieve dominance? It’s so competitive already that it would take a major investment for years, but it is possible.  Such an effort would really clear out the individual buyer agents.

Bubbleinfo TV in Tijuana

Jenna and her family were involved in building other homes with a group known as Build A Miracle, and she decided to sponsor the building of a home too.

She produced this video:


which helped her raise $14,000 on her own to help this needy family.

Here’s how it wrapped up yesterday.

For more information on how you can contibute, click here:


Build a Miracle was formally established as a non-profit corporation in 2001, but the true origin dates back to October 14,1986, the day the founders, Julianne and Chris North, met while painting the dormitory at an orphanage and school in Tecate, Mexico. Chris was a recent graduate of Loyola Marymount University and Julianne was a sophomore. Shortly afterward they met Adolfo Noguez, director of an educational and athletic program working with hundreds of impoverished children in Northern Mexico.

Chris and Julianne were married in 1988. Along with Adolfo, they continued to work
together on various charitable projects in Tecate and Tijuana. The transformation into Build A Miracle – a home building organization – began in the late 1990s, when they built one home each year for single mothers struggling to keep jobs and to keep their kids in school. At the same time these women volunteered at the local Esperanza Community Center and Chapel run by Sister Gene McNally.

The excitement about helping build permanent homes for families living in squalor became contagious for Chris and Julianne’s friends, family, neighbors, schoolmates and fellow parishioners. Donations started coming in and it was time to make it official.

In 2001, Build a Miracle was born.

JtR: It was the first time I had met these folks or participated, but I experienced everyone involved as genuine, caring people who insist on 100% of contributions going towards the home construction, college scholarships, and vocational training in this community.

The people who receive the houses own their land, but don’t have enough money to afford a decent structure. In return for receiving a 400sf house, they agree to keep their kids in school, and complete 500 hours of community service.

Happy 900th

Welcome back – hopefully everybody made it through the blog-host changeover, thank for your patience.  We lost a couple of posts and a few comments, but we should be better off overall.

We’ve reached the 900th video – a collection of cars around town:

New York Says Thank You Tonight

Let’s get started on our 9/11 rememberance.

One of our readers is actively involved in the New York Says Thank You project – from their website:

From an act of extraordinary evil on September 11, 2001, Americans responded with so many acts of extraordinary kindness. People from all across the United States poured into New York City to volunteer, to pay their respects, and to be with us in our darkest moment.

New Yorkers will never forget that.

The mission of The New York Says Thank You Foundation is to send volunteers from New York City each year on the 9/11 Anniversary to help rebuild communities around the country affected by disasters. It is our way of commemorating the extraordinary love and generosity extended to New Yorkers by Americans from all across the United States in the days, weeks, and months following September 11th.

A movie had been made about them, and it is on AOL tonight at 8pm EST. 

Here is the trailer:

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