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I am You

 “You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?
You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.

I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy.
Thich Nhat Hanh

This week, New York City approved a real estate developer’s plan to include a “poor door” in his luxury apartment complex in the Upper West Side.

The idea of a separate entrance for lower-income residents has been discussed for some time, but this week plans by company Extell Development to include a separate entrance for “affordable housing” tenants (i.e., folks who earn 60 percent or less of median income) in their 33-story condo was given the thumbs-up. The building will have 219 units, including 55 affordable units overlooking the street (and on floors 2-6) while those renting and buying the apartments at market-rate will have waterfront views.

The entrance is part of the Inclusionary Housing Program application, under which developers can build larger projects, and receive tax credits and other perks, if they also provide low-income housing, either on- or off-site.

The approval of the entrance has triggered upset and outrage, with many on social media calling it nothing more than an updated version of segregation. ThinkProgress report notes that issues generally affecting low-income tenants in luxury buildings – which include not being able to use amenities like the gym or pools – usually affect people of color.

Brooklyn Magazine notes  it’s “not an unusual scheme” to include affordable housing units in fancy, upscale buildings that will remain, for most people, mere real estate fantasies. “…But unlike that old Jim Crowe ‘separate but equal’ chestnut, Extell is not even pretending that the affordable units will be run the same way the pie-in-the-sky luxury condos will be. It essentially puts into architecture the unspoken class divisions of New York. There is a class for which Manhattan is a playground, and one, begrudgingly acknowledged, for which it is a struggle just to find a place you can afford to pay the rent.”

But, New York Magazine says,  the entrance will serve the purpose of  “[sparing] all the residents from the terrible awkwardness of regularly encountering people whose lifestyles differ from theirs, or something.”  Even though  Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer “vowed” to reject similar plans in the future, this “poor door” looks like it’s going ahead for now.

I am you. Hmmm.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Are there folks in your life with whom you are unable or unwilling to make peace?
  • Can one be selfish and egotistical and yet at the same time be humble?
  • What separates you from others – mentally, physically, emotionally, psychologically, spiritually…?
  • Do you look for the dignity and humanity in others? Why or why not?
  • “Without you, there can be no me.” Does this make sense to you? How so?
  • Do you believe that what goes around comes around?
  • Do you believe we are all connected? If so, how does this belief apply to your life?
  • Do you consider yourself to be generally neutral?
  • When do you experience competition, jealousy or envy?
  • On a scale of 1-10, to what degree do you live your life from a place of peace, harmony and (true) love? How do you feel when you reflect on your answer?

(c) 2014, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, or pvajda(at)
You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.