Feudal Future Podcast — How California's Climate Policies Hurt the Middle Class, with Jennifer Hernandez

In the fourth episode of the Feudal Future podcast, hosts Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky interview Jennifer Hernandez, a partner with Holland & Knight Law Firm in its California offices. Her firm is one of the most prominent in the world of environmental regulations, and she herself is in the midst of lawsuits pertaining to California environmental law.

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Join the 'Beyond Feudalism' Facebook group to share your story, ask questions and connect with other citizen leaders working to restore opportunity to the middle class:

Read Chapman University's Beyond Feudalism Report:

Learn more about the Feudal Future podcast.
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Virtual Town Hall – California Feudalism: Addressing California's Inequality Crisis

Join us for a presentation on Kotkin and Toplanksky's research brief titled California Feudalism: A Strategy to Restore California's Middle Class, discussing inequality in California and how a change in state policy could restore our state’s dream. Kotkin and Toplansky will be joined by distinguished panelists for commentary and Q & A.  The event will be moderated by Lisa Sparks Dean of the School of Communication at Chapman University. 

Sponsored by the Orange County Credit Union and hosted by Tom Piechota, Ph.D. PE, Vice President of Research, Chapman University


Lisa Sparks, Ph.D., Dean, School of Communication, Chapman University


Joel Kotkin, Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures, R. Hobbs Professorship in Urban Studies, School of Communication, Chapman University

Marshall Toplansky, MBA, Clinical Assistant Professor of Management Science at Chapman University’s Argyros School of Business and Economics, and Research Fellow at the C. Larry Hoag Center for Real Estate, Chapman University

When: July 14, 1:00 p.m. (PST)

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Virtual Town Hall: Addressing California's Inequality

Feudal Future Podcast — Rural Urban Migration and Class Structure in China with Li Sun

In the third episode of the Feudal Future podcast, hosts Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky, interview guest Li Sun. Li is a lecturer in sociology and social policy at the University of Leeds in the UK. Originally from China, she has resided in several other countries since 2007, and is a consultant for the UN, the World Bank, the OECD, and the governments of the UK, the Netherlands, and China. Li’s main areas of research interest are China’s urbanization and globalization, and she is the author of Rural-Urban Migration and Policy Intervention in China.

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On the George Floyd Killing and Police Reform

Obviously I wanted to write something here about the George Floyd killing and its aftermath. I’ve struggled to find something to say, in part because I am far less optimistic than many others that there are going to be major positive changes. A lot of people seem to be saying, “This time things will be different.” But I’ve reached the age where I am much more skeptical about that, having watched so many of these things unfold before (starting with the Jon Burge crew, the Rolando Cruz case, Rodney King, etc, and continuing on to the present day).

I do think that downtown and city leaders around the country are going to coalesce around plans for police reform (which are very needed). But I think the most likely regional responses are going to be in the form of quiet disengagement. That is, rather than the types of rhetoric we used to hear from people like L. Brooks Patterson in the Detroit suburbs, we’ll probably hear suburbanites echo much of what city people say, but then just go about their business. I think suburban elected officials will legitimately try to engage, but the average resident will not.

In part this is because we’re reaching a suburban tipping point in many communities. It used to be that in the suburbs of places like Cincinnati, you’d hear suburbanites brag that they never went downtown. Then a tipping point was reached where they would go downtown and talk about how cool it was.

But over the last decade, the amenity quality of many suburban communities has increased significantly. I remember working in Deerfield, Illinois in the 1990s. Deerfield and surrounds were pretty affluent. But you couldn’t get a decent cup of coffee there, and there were only a limited number of old school restaurants that were worth the visit. Only a relatively few communities outside of Chicago itself had anything going on.

Today, there are now first class coffee shops, restaurants, and entertainment options in the suburbs. Many of them have even built high quality arts centers and the like. As big city downtowns remain shuttered due to coronavirus, they face an extended recovery period anyway until their tourism and office workers return en masse. This and potential racial unrest could create a reverse tipping point in which suburbanites decide that they have plenty at home and there’s not as much need to go into the city as there used to be. And that there’s no longer much upside for them to try to engage in what they see as the city’s challenges.

I don’t think we are returning to the 60s and 70s. Here in Indianapolis I don’t know anyone who lives in the city who is talking about getting out. But I do believe in many of these places people outside the city are going to increasingly decide that the problems of the city are not their concern or are simply unfixable. I would not be at all surprised to see an increasing city-suburb divide, this time not based in active acrimony but increasing suburban indifference and disconnection.

This is one case where I’d very much like to be proven wrong, but I’m just not as optimistic as many others are.

Telework, Telehealth & Real Estate After the Pandemic with Dan Young

In the second episode of the Feudal Future podcast, Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky talk with guest Dan Young about his vision of the future post-COVID-19. Dan was the former president of the Irvine Company, mayor of Santa Ana, and currently serves on the board of Hoag Hospital.

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Virtual Town Hall: The Future of Residential and Commercial Real Estate

What is the future of real estate after Covid-19? If you were unable to join Richard Florida, Joel Kotkin, Marshall Toplansky and other leading experts to see where the real estate market is going, you can still listen to the discussion at the link below.

Topic: The Future of Residential and Commercial Real Estate
Date: Jun 2, 2020 10:00AM -12:00PM Pacific Time (US and Canada)

Meeting Recording: Chapman Virtual Town Hall

Preserving Opportunity for the Global Middle Class

On the first episode of the Feudal Future podcast, Joel Kotkin and Marshall Toplansky break down what it means to live in a feudal society, why we're headed towards one, and what we can do to start reversing the trends.

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Minneapolis, Today and Tomorrow

Growing up in all white and mostly Jewish Oak Park (Michigan) of the 1950’s my only encounters with black people were our 70 year old landscaper my grandparents referred to as ‘boy’ and an occasional maid. My grandparents lived south of 8 mile and would take us to eat at ‘Little Black Sambo’s’ restaurant. That was the ‘normal’ I was raised in.

Then, my first day in Junior High School, and the first incidence of the new bussing laws, I went to get a drink of water and a black kid jumped in front of me punching me in the face and I came to in the principals office. I don’t recall anyone getting punished for that. Essentially we learned fast to keep away from the black kids. I was not angry at them, but at us white people. Even back then, as I rode my bike into Detroit, I’d see the racism and look at the new ‘projects’ white people built for them that quite frankly I thought shocking. I certainly would not want to live in those instant slums. It would influence my planning of cities to this day.

With bussing – you could not simply hide the problem of haves and have nots. It got me to think – what if I was black? How angry would I be to see my parents and grandparents being held back because of my skin color and what kind of future hope would I have? It did not help that the Jewish neighborhood I lived in was filled with little princes and princesses that judged on the brand clothes being worn, and that my father dressed us in cheap clothing. For the most part, we were not popular and essentially were treated with disdain, not too much differently than the black kids were. I became a young anti-semitic Jew – I was ashamed of my own people until I reached my late 20’s.

Then came the 1968 riots. I lived two miles north of the Detroit border – close enough to remember the smoke billowing from the city wondering (at 15 years old) why people were so incredibly stupid as to burn their own city to the ground? I understood the anger, but could not fathom why anyone in their right mind, or not, would burn the very homes and businesses they lived and worked in. We immediately put our home for sale like most everyone and moved out to the far edge of West Bloomfield, bussed to the all-white Walled Lake High School where my sister and I were the first two Jews. Because the country kids did not judge on clothes, we were embraced in this new school and had many friends. We were far from Detroit and far from the problem.

White flight fostered explosive growth in the region, and it was in 1968 that I began working for Don C. Geake Associates the leading land planning firm which was an incredible experience designing hundreds of developments annually for the 6 years I worked there. Ironically, for me, the riots provided the basis for a lifelong career.

The aftermath of the Detroit riots would be felt in the black community for generations, not just a few years. The overall City of Detroit may never recover – at least not on the planning agenda of the current leaders.

The problem is not just as simple as black & white, but how we are brought up behind closed doors. If we are born white taught that black people are a certain stereotype and they should be feared or hated or born black and taught to hate whites or raised with derogatory terms, I believe that is the root of the problems back then as well as today.

Minneapolis Today:

The City of Minneapolis is far different than the Detroit I grew up in, not just because it’s like 90+% white, but even the worst areas of this City is not all that bad. There are no slums or downtrodden areas like vast regions of Detroit. Is there racism? You betcha there is. It’s like an invisible layer – but is a thick invisible layer. Walk my liberal neighborhood and you will see there’s a ton of ‘Black Lives Matter’ signs. This is 2020 – why do you need to even place a sign like that? The racism is not just blacks, it’s gays, Indians (native Americans), Mexicans, - in other words ‘working class’ people.

This City regulations (i.e. MetCouncil and Minneapolis) themselves in my opinion are racist. Busses are for ‘working class’ people. We need high density mid to high-rise development in otherwise single family areas so ‘working class’ people have a place to live. I’d have a pretty good guess what color ‘working class’ people are, and it’s not very white. What’s wrong with ‘working class’ having a car or a home with a yard they can be proud of? What sense of pride is it to be attached next to, below, or above, another ‘working class’ family with a common hallway for the kids to play? The ‘working class’ are treated as second and third class citizens. This is that unspoken invisible layer of racism – I’m sure well-intentioned but damaging nevertheless.

When the Police kill an innocent Black citizen – once that’s a crime – when they do it multiple times that’s unacceptable. Burn and loot in retaliation only takes 52 years of progress and resets the clock to 1968. Do you think those groceries and other businesses will be quick to re-open? Do you think an employer will now choose to hire or promote a well-qualified black over a less qualified one white because of this riot? These businesses will likely relocate to the suburbs, as well as many residents – just like Detroit. Even worse – how many will now move out of Minnesota? How many businesses considering Minnesota will now look elsewhere?

The damage is far more reaching than a few buildings destroyed. I have no answers – I wish I did, but businesses will move out of the more affordable areas that desperately need them. These mob destroyers of property will soon find out their anger will not get them ahead – only farther behind for a very long time to come.

Minneapolis Tomorrow:

I firmly believe that there are solutions to affordable transportation and housing that fosters a sense of self-worth but not with the current thinking of the regulatory agencies who embrace a Portland Model of growth and need not consider market proven alternatives. This is also true of our experiences trying to work within Detroit. You can’t undo the past few days, and hopefully we do not go down that quick drain of the past. The past few decades our region has been about social engineering – if anything, it’s not working so well, at least for ‘those’ working class families. These few bad police must be punished,- harshly, but I’m sure glad we have the good ones risking their lives to protect us.

Anyhow just my experiences and opinion, not that it will matter much.

Rick Harrison is President of Rick Harrison Site Design Studio and Neighborhood Innovations, LLC. He is author of Prefurbia: Reinventing The Suburbs From Disdainable To Sustainable and creator of LandMentor. His websites are and

The Future of Residential and Commercial Real Estate

What is the future of real estate after Covid-19? Please join Richard Florida, Joel Kotkin, Marshall Toplansky and other leading experts to see where the real estate market is going. We will be discussing issues including the future of office space, retail, affordable housing, inner cities, suburbs and small towns.

Save the date: June 2nd 10:30AM - 12:00PM (1:30PM to 3:00PM EDT)


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Joel Kotkin on COVID-19's Impact on Work and Life

Chapman University's Joel Kotkin on C-Span, talking about the effects of the coronavirus pandemic on urban centers in the United States.