Plot of Land is a podcast mini-series from Monument Lab that explores land ownership and housing in the United States. Our team of storytellers and reporters break down how race, class, land, and power have been used to build and maintain unfair systems that harm nearly everyone and how choices made by people in the distant past have created vast inequities in the present. We believe that to build a just future for everyone, we must radically change our approach to policy and practice. Major support for Plot of Land has been provided by the Ford Foundation.
Ep. 1: Location, Location, Location
Plot of Land dives into the history of land ownership through the emerging future: real estate in the Metaverse. In creating virtual land, we could make literally anything true, from universal public space to zero gravity, so why have people chosen to replicate real-world patterns of land use when we know they are highly inequitable, exploitative, and unjust? In this first episode, we meet the Plot of Land team of producers and go deep into the ways land, housing, and memory intertwine.
Ep. 2: They’re Trying to Lure Homeowners to Sell
Have you ever seen billboards on the highway offering cash for houses? Has a stranger called you offering money for your home sight unseen? In Plot of Land’s second episode, we wade into the world of housing speculation, considering how private equity markets and real estate investment trusts have transformed the places we literally call home. How did housing become such a profitable market? And so volatile that it could lead to the largest financial crisis since the Great Depression?
Ep. 3: Just Oil Wells on These City Streets
What happens when the place we call home, the communities we form around it, and our sense of safety, is at the mercy of forces far outside of our control? We visit Long Beach, in Los Angeles, where oil and gas pipelines have jeopardized people’s homes and security.
Ep. 4: This Arc of Very Fertile Land
We spend time in Oklahoma with the Bradford family whose fourth-generation cattle ranching operation, G-Line Ranch, is facing the same struggles and discrimination as many Black farmers and ranchers across the country. G-Line Ranch sits just outside Boley, once the largest and wealthiest Black town in Oklahoma. Boley was founded by Creek Freedmen and African Americans escaping Jim Crow violence and disenfranchisement. Join us as we trace this history, its legacies, and the future Boleyites are creating.
Ep. 5: We’re Out Here at our Homeland
At one point Oklahoma had 50 Black townships and 1.5 million acres of Black-owned farmland. Today only 13 Black towns survive and the majority of Black farmers have retired or lost their land, discouraged–and broke–from an industry plagued by racist lending practices. What can Boley’s rise and more recent decline teach us about how biased policies have shaped who gets to own what land?
Ep. 6: Tucked Between Those Two Boroughs
New York’s Roosevelt Island was imagined as an idyllic, multi-racial, multi-income community, developed as part of the social housing movement in the 60s and 70s. But by the 1980s, socially-minded investments in housing were overtaken by neoliberal policy. We talk to current-day and displaced residents to see how this change affected them, while looking back from the point of divergence to find the decisions that created and dismantled housing as a human right.
Highly recommend this series. Fantastic.