Hot Chicken Sh*t

September 26, 2018

On a normal day there is not much commonality between hot chicken and gentrification.

 

But today, sitting in a room in The Big Easy surrounded by over a thousand self-confessed bikeactivists and placemaking enthusiasts, is no normal day.

 

Walk Bike Place is a conference that brings together an eclectic, passionate collection of urban leaders. In many ways, the increase in attendance at this annual gathering reflects the intensity and growing pressure for participatory democracy. This increased urbanisation across the world demands community and political leaders to change from top down command-control leadership to a facilitatory collaborative leadership model, one rooted in a conviction that the voice of the community matters.

 

 

 

So here we have Tunde Wey (pictured above), a Nigerian born local celebratory chef from New Orleans, espousing the need for cities as economic engines to also find ways to evenly distribute transport and housing for all the citizens of the city.

 

Wey first started using chicken as social economic equaliser in February 2018 when he ran a series of pop up lunches to generate conversation and currency on the racial wealth disparity in New Orleans. The revenue generated from selling plates ($12 and $30 for whites) was redistributed to people of colour.


Engaged by the Metro Nashville Arts Commission to give a talk on how food and gentrification were connected, Wey took hot chicken to a new level. Through a series of dinners, Wey shed new “light and flavour” on the affordable housing crisis gripping North Nashville. His dinners serve chicken “with lots of colours and sh*t” to redistribute capital from those that can afford hot chicken to those who can’t – from those with high income to those whose income is below sixty percent of median household income.

 

Wey’s approach is simple and effective. It combines a need for awareness and a demand for action. It captures and leverages the collective and basic social instinct of grabbing and sharing a hot chicken drumstick. It is a reminder that as our cities grow, they need to be inclusive and they need to balance and distribute economic outcomes. A reminder that our cities need to give all an opportunity to enjoy the simple and sometimes sticky things in life.

 

Tunde Wey was a keynote presenter at the 2018 Walk Bike Place Conference, New Orleans.

 

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Katherine O’Regan, Executive Director

Cities Leadership Institute

 

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