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Statewide Partnership for Good
by Ellie Krug, Call for Justice
“In America the recession is over, and U.S. corporations and Wall Street are doing better than ever. Yet 46% of this country is living in poverty, or near poverty, and today we have the highest number of poor since we began keeping records…” –Harry & Joe Gantz (producers of AMERICAN WINTER)
In a society with declining safety nets and cuts to social services programs, many people—honest, hard-working people—are falling through the cracks. Whether it’s the sudden loss of a job, the absence of a partner, or the unanticipated medical emergency, there are those who find themselves unexpectedly in need of help, with no direction to go.
So what do they do? They call United Way 2-1-1. Read the rest of this entry →
Last March when United Way launched its conversation series, Faces of Poverty, our goal was to have an open and honest discussion about how living in poverty impacts the lives of individuals and families in our community. And while we weren’t sure where the conversation would take us, we felt a sense of responsibility as one of the largest funders of social service programs in the Twin Cities whose very mission is to build pathways out of poverty, to lead by example. Read the rest of this entry →
Grant Abbott, a Faces of Poverty participant, posed the question we’re talking about now: are people equally free?
“I would like to say something about why talking about poverty is so difficult in this country. I believe it is difficult because it gets at the heart of the American myth of a free society in which hard-working individuals can lift themselves up and out of poverty. Poverty raises very difficult questions for this myth. Are people equally free? What is the impact of racism on people’s ability to work themselves out of poverty? Does the wealth gap between the rich and the bottom half of the population create such an unfair advantage that government needs to address it?…” – Grant Abbott, Interim Executive Director, Episcopal Community Services of Minnesota
The hard conversations are the ones worth having
There are some things we’d rather not talk about. Politics, race and religion are almost always off-limits. Approaching any one of these hotbed issues, even with the best of intentions, is a risky proposition. With a failing economy and eroding confidence in our government, is poverty yet another conversation we’d just as soon avoid?
As the online facilitator of United Way’s Faces of Poverty conversations, I continually ask myself if it’s possible to really engage the community in an unflinching look at poverty that elicits candor rather than apathy. Eager for fresh perspectives and ideas, having a dialogue of substance, particularly in a digital space, is a challenging proposition. But I remain convinced that it’s a vital conversation for our community and country.
Dubbed the “poverty tour,” radio and television talk show host, Tavis Smiley, and Cornel West, professor of African American studies at Princeton University, took their anti-poverty message on the road to 18 American cities while promoting their book, The Rich and the Rest of Us. At the heart of their message is a plea for America to start talking about the plight of the poor.