Work-in-Progress: A Dream that’s Crazy Enough to Work

Rosaline Oh
4 min readSep 13, 2018

So, I have a dream.

And it’s been haunting me for the past two years. I started a OneNote file with some jottings in April of 2016. At first, it was about a crazy business idea to turn run-down motels that are going out of business into a d

It’s not a very well thought-out idea. I know. It was a passing thought, one of the many I have everyday.

At its core, the dream is about changing the world for the better.

But, what is ‘better’? ‘Better’ from whose point of view? ‘Better’ than what? Is it better only now, or could it be a sustainable improvement?

And what part of the world am I addressing? Is it everyone in the whole world? Or is it my world and the world of those who are affected? Then who are these people? Do they even want their worlds to be changed?

I’ve been plagued with more questions than answers during the past two years — more questions seemed to emerge the deeper I delved into each question in attempts to answer them… and somehow land me in an existential crisis that undermines everything I think about the world.

So, I started with cities.

Why? Because cities are like the petri dish of humanity. A condensed, concentrated, and constantly evolving community of humans where environment, humans, and cultures interact. Also, cities are where most of human living will take place in the next century, and more than 70% of human population is expected to live in cities by 2040.

I tried to describe my idea in pieces to people, but it turned out that too many terms needed clarification, and I ended up creating different definitions to properly describe what I am imagining. All in all, communication has been tough.

Given my fascination with cities and my inability to fully form my ideas into words… let me cut to the chase and tell you what I have of my dream so far. Here’s the elevator pitch that I’ve dumbed down enough to get the conversation started:

I will found a benevolent property and infrastructure development firm that creates jobs and homes in cities of emerging economies.

This is an inadequate description of my dream, but it will do for now. Let’s dissect what this truly means:

  1. “…benevolent…firm…”

I’m intentionally using the vague word “firm” because I imagine a complex web of for-profit and non-profit sections, housed within a mother company that is for-profit, but not profit-driven. I’ll expand on my ideas about why we should distinguish between profit-driven and for-profit businesses.

2. “…property and infrastructure development…”

Property development builds or rebuilds buildings. It builds spaces. Spaces are where a most of urban life takes place. By building space, I intend to build and rebuild ways of living, existing, and co-existing. Infrastructure development builds or improves facilities and services that are foundational to the economy functioning. Stable infrastructure allows communities and economies to build itself. By building space, I intend to build ways of thriving and growing.

3. “…emerging economies.”

I want to focus on economies with some economic engine for growth, but are far away from reaching their maximum potential. Since we are discussing cities and not countries, these cities may be located in every and any country in the world — from the richest to poorest nations. GDP is often a poor indicator of predicting municipal economic size and capacity for growth.

Right now, you might be thinking:

So, it’s just a property development business? Big whoop. That’s nothing new.

The underlying implications of my dream are ambitious and far-reaching. It aims to first challenge capitalism and profit-making as a economic construct, and then challenge federal governments as political bodies of control, and eventually change how humanity behaves.

How can I make these outlandish claims? What is the purpose of this organization? How will it change the world? Why is this different from any other property development firm?

To be honest, I have some answers floating around my brain… but that’s to be shared another day.

We’re only looking at the tip of the iceberg. Even I don’t know what’s hiding at the bottom.
  • I plan to write much more about this topic, and eventually address several of the loose ends that I know I’ve left behind in this article. When I’ve written the corresponding article, I’ll update this post with the links.
  • Clap this article and follow me on Medium if you are curious to know more. If you want to talk to me about how you want to be involved with this dream, message me directly on Twitter @oh_rosaline



Rosaline Oh

An unlikely adventurer and slow travelling nomad. Discovering self in the great outdoors.