Plot of Land is a podcast mini-series from Monument Lab that explores how land ownership and housing in the United States have been shaped by the entrenched interplay of power, public memory, and privatization. We believe that to build the future we deserve, there must be a radical change in our approaches to policy and practice. Join us to remap and rethink land ownership today.
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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.
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?
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.
We attend the 61st annual Boley Rodeo in Oklahoma. Once the largest and wealthiest Black town in Oklahoma, Boley was founded by Creek Freedmen and African Americans escaping Jim Crow violence and disenfranchisement. We meet the Bradford family, whose G-Line ranch is indicative of the broader struggle of Black farmers and ranchers in Oklahoma and across the country.
We’re back in Boley, at the Bradford family ranch. 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?
Roosevelt Island was imagined as an idyllic, multi-racial, multi-income community, developed as part of the social housing movement in 1960s-70s New York. 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.
We’re back on Roosevelt Island, looking at what happened after subsidized affordable housing programs expired in the 2000s. Some residents managed to buy in, building equity and stability, others experienced precarious tenancy or displacement, and an influx of wealthier residents is changing the face of the island. We ask the question, can Roosevelt Island’s past guide state and federal investments in multi-racial, multi-income neighborhoods for the future?
We learn the incredible story of Sedonia Dennis, a woman once enslaved in Louisiana, who came to own a piece of the plantation that had once claimed ownership of her family. And we explore how, over time, the plantation economy gave way to the petrochemical industry. Join us as we spend time with Sedonia Dennis’s descendant, Jazzy Miller who is documenting her family’s fight to exist at the intersection of each of these forms of extraction.
We return to Louisiana and the Joneses, where in recent decades family members have moved away for work and to escape the increasingly toxic air and water leaking from the neighboring chemical plants of Cancer Alley. As stronger hurricanes and vanishing wetlands reconfigure Louisiana and new industries threaten to repeat old patterns, what will this mean for the future of Jonesland? What can their story on the front-lines of climate change teach us as the nation faces the dire consequences of extractive economies?
Concluding the Plot of Land series, we look at the work being done across the United States to repair our relationship with the land, from the Tongva conservancy in Los Angeles to the Sea Islands of South Carolina. What will it take to imagine a radically different future? With the stakes rising along with the temperature, what is the scale of change we need to shift power and build a more just world?

Plot of Land is a production of Monument Lab, with support from the Ford Foundation.

  • Project LeadSue Mobley
  • Project ManagementNick Jenisch
  • Executive ProducerJordy Yager
  • Editor/Reporter-ProducerMelissa Fundira
  • Reporter-ProducersAnya Groner, Jameela Hammond, Katherine Nagasawa, Mark Nieto, and Irina Zhorov
  • Sound EngineerMark Nieto
  • Art DirectorLi Sumpter
  • DesignerEmma Yip
  • Digital IllustrationMer Young
  • Senior Historical Advisor and EditorThomas J. Adams
  • Plot of Land AdvisorsFallon Aidoo, Jane Patton, Colleen McHugh, Bryan C. Lee, Joshua Lewis, Margee Green, Malik Bartholomew, and Shana griffin
  • Monument Lab TeamKareal Amenumey, Corina Chang, Jen Cleary, Paul Farber, Kristen Giannantonio, William Hodgson, Florie Hutchinson, Dina Paola Rodriguez, Aubree Penney, Nico Rodriguez, and Naima Murphy Salcido
  • CommunicationsCorina Chang, Florie Hutchinson, and Dina Paola Rodriguez
  • Monument Lab Board of DirectorsLola Bakare (Secretary), Ellery Roberts Biddle, Amari Johnson, Monica O. Montgomery (Vice Chair), Stephan Nicoleau (Treasurer), Michelle Angela Ortiz, Samala, Kirk Savage, and Tiffany Tavarez (Chair)
  • Programmatic PartnersThe Albert and Tina Small Center for Collaborative Design
  • Major support for Plot of Land has been provided by the Ford Foundation

Monument Lab, a nonprofit public art and history studio based in Philadelphia, is among the country’s leading voices making generational change in how monuments live in public. Founded in 2012, Monument Lab cultivates and facilitates critical conversations around the past, present, and future of monuments.