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  • Writer's pictureEi Ei Samai


I participated in the Silicon Valley Community Foundation's On The Table community conversations about housing today. I hosted three conversations that were all equally heart-wrenching. After the first two, I thought of organizing a massive emigration out of the Bay Area, starting with my friends and family.

I call it #Techxodus.

Possible definition: the physical gutting of the working and middle class from Silicon Valley Beast and its ever-growing tentacles, as a showcase of political power, act of desperation, attempt at taking charge of the inevitable, or all of the above.

Can you tell how deeply those conversations cut? #Techxodus formed sarcastically as a humor salve to the pain I was witnessing and letting in. Then it morphed into, "Hm, I wonder if the curse can be designed into a blessing." In Permaculture we say, "The problem is the solution." As the day went on it became more of a vision for community than a reaction to the tech monster.

I trust you have first-rate intelligence so let me add multiple thoughts for you to hold at once. I took my SAT IIs in the Apple building in the 90s, where Steve Wozniak gave us a welcome pep talk. I consider myself a near digital native though I am an immigrant from a "developing nation." I have no beef with tech innovation or individual techies, per se. My beef is with initially unexamined, and later callous, choices of tech companies and desperately bargaining local politicians that are causing mass displacement.

I'm also of the belief that there are alternative pathways that can be taken in the future (ie: planned development) that get to the same destination (ie: tech innovation). If I may quote the great late Howard Zinn, "Everything in history once it has happened looks as if it had to happen exactly that way. We can’t imagine any other. But I am convinced of the uncertainty of history, of the possibility of surprise, of the importance of human action in changing what looks unchangeable."

Let's get back to #Techxodus. Many of the reasons people stay here is for the consciousness, for the diversity, and for the community. I heard that over and over today. "We would leave but..."

Portland and Sacramento are already the new accidental Bay Area with so many people either starting their dreams of home ownership or starting another by cashing out and retiring. What if we made New Bay Areas intentional (think New England or New Zealand)? What if we designed our way out of this mess, metaphorically and geographically?

A couple of my friends presented their idea in the Bay Area Resilience by Design challenge. What if instead of trying so hard to address the compounding issues of insane rents, life-shortening stress, lengthening commutes, and frightening income inequalities, all to likely end up with community scattering anyway, (a mom told me out of her Mama Group of 9, there are only 3 left in the area) we intentionally up and moved, together?

Preferred new definition of #Techxodus: masterfully orchestrated and exquisitely designed relocation of Communities of Flavor to a new homeland that is safe, secure, stable, spacious, and significantly more dignified than the tech-consumed Bay Area.

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