I’m Eve Picker and my life is rich with urban (ad)ventures, I’ve developed a dozen buildings in blighted neighborhoods, founded a non-profit called cityLAB and built Pittsburgh’s first tiny house, organized a speaker series, launched a Pittsburgh e-zine called Pop City, and established downtown Pittsburgh’s first co-working space. I also co-founded Pittsburgh’s wildly successful Open Streets program. All of these experiences have helped me become one of the foremost thinkers on urban change.
And of course, I’m the founder of Small Change, a real estate equity crowdfunding platform. We raise funds for meaningful real estate projects building better cities everywhere.
I believe that real estate projects should be carefully crafted to make places better as a priority, or at least as important as their profit motive. This show focusses on just this issue. Here you’ll learn how world experts in Impact Real Estate tackle this challenge in many different ways. We’re going to talk to all sorts of experts, including developers, investors, professors and funders. They’re all going to have a different opinion and I’m sure you will too.
And now, let’s get on with it and make some change.
Insights and Inspirations
- Buildings should make people’s lives better.
- Socially responsible real estate is a thing. We call it Impact.
- Crowdfunding lets everyone invest in the places they live in.
Information and Links
Read the podcast transcript here
Hey everyone this is Eve picker. And if you listen to this podcast series you’re going to learn how to make some change.
Welcome. Thanks so much for joining me today. I’m Eve Picker. And this is my podcast and it’s all about impact investing in real estate. I am the founder of SmallChange which is a crowdfunding platform that connects investors with real estate developers who are working on socially responsible projects.
There seem to be a lot of definitions for impact, and there are many different metrics out there that people are developing but in its simplest terms for me impact in real estate is real estate projects that make people’s lives better.
And that could mean that it is a project on a vacant site in a neighborhood that hasn’t had development for many years or it could mean a net zero passive building that is environmentally extremely friendly. Or it could mean a building that is located very close to transportation hubs so that someone could live there and bike to work or walk walk to work and not own a vehicle.
I think there are lots of ways to describe impact.
The change index is an index we use on SmallChange to determine whether a project that we’d like to help raise money for actually meets some of these impact criteria. And we developed it because many of the indices that are out there today are quite complicated and not easy for everyday people to understand. You have to be in the industry and understand the lingo to understand them. So for example I think LEED is a good example of a pretty complicated system that is a good one but really architects and engineers might use it and no one else would really understand it. So we tried to develop an index that was pretty obvious to everyone and it includes a lot of impact criteria that range from jobs created to diversity in the business, developing the building to environmental impact to impact on a neighborhood to whether that neighborhood is underserved. So there are many many ways that a project can make an impact. And we try to be neutral in deciding what an impact project is and really rely heavily on these criteria and the scoring that we’ve created to make that decision for us.
My passion is really that I believe you can spend the same money and energy on a building whether it’s good or bad for a community. So I really believe that building should be carefully crafted to make places better. I think it is a waste of a project not to do that. And I’d like to show people how people tackle this problem how they treat the physical buildings architecture and projects.
How they use them to make better places for everyone.
In this podcast series I’m going to be talking to experts in the impact world. And I’m going to be asking them how they define impact in the physical environment. That’s really what we’re going to be looking to discover because my definition is only one of very many. You know I have an extremely opinionated view about impact. And I’ve I’m an architect by training. I’m an urban designer. I’m a real estate developer and so my view of the world is really through the built environment. And that’s that’s the view I’ve interpreted into SmallChange. But there are many other ways to look at impact and socially responsible real estate and making better places. And I’m going to be interviewing a lot of experts in this area and asking them their opinion.
As a real estate developer. I really focused my work on projects that I thought were meaningful, vacant buildings in underserved neighborhoods, historic buildings so I thought deserved a second life. Tiny Houses in neighborhoods with lots of vacant properties.
Projects that I really thought would kick start something more than just the building that I built. And I’ve been I’ve been successful and pretty happy with what I’ve done.
It’s been quite a journey the most difficult part of that journey has always been financing those projects because when you do a first of its kind project in a neighborhood that is not really something that most banks are interested in financing.
So financing came to the foreground in the work that I did because it was always difficult to find the funds to do these creative and innovative projects.
And so I have launched a platform, SmallChange, which uses securities laws to help developers raise funds for projects like this. And that’s really why we have this SmallChange index as a way to sort through the many different types of projects and make sure that we stay honest and we stay focused on projects that are making some sort of impact. What makes us really unique is that we use the security law called Regulation Crowdfunding that no one else is using in real estate and Regulation Crowdfunding permits everyday people neighbors in a neighborhood to invest small amounts of money in projects that they really care about and that that we think is an important part of building better communities.
When I talk to my guests I’m going to ask them about what they think about crowdfunding and whether they believe they can have an impact in communities and building wealth in underserved neighborhoods.
And I honestly don’t know if they’ll have an opinion.
I think most people haven’t really thought about this. We’re at the beginning of a very nascent industry, and we’ll see what they have to say.
So you’ve taken the first step because you’ve tuned into this first podcast. I’m very grateful that you’re joining me and I hope you’ll give me a chance because I’m sure there’ll be some along the way that you don’t like but there’s going to be plenty that you’re going to learn. You can also check out my website EvePicker.com. We’re going to be posting the podcasts there and there are lots of other goodies there that you might enjoy as well. Thanks very much.
And for now this is Eve Picker signing off to go make some change.