"Poverty" is the theme of the Schenectady League this year. To get a better understanding of the issues involved, several League members attended the "Bridges to Success" conference hosted by the Community Foundation at Proctors on November 6th.
Our reality, the world we live in day to day, is very different depending on whether you are "under-resourced" or "resourced" according to Ruby Payne, author of a number of books on poverty and keynote speaker at the conference. She described a number of areas of difference between the resourced and the under-resourced. To actually communicate, not just talk at, one needs an understanding of the reality the other person lives in.
For folks in poverty, crises are the axis around which their world revolves (no money for food, rent, transportation; job insecurity, untreated illnesses turning critical....) Stability is a defining characteristic of the resourced world. The poor are isolated, their world is limited physically and in access to information. The middle class has exposure to a wider world of places, experiences and ideas. The world of the under-resourced is concrete...focused on meeting basic needs, now, today. Those in the resourced world deal with abstract ideas, with possibilities, they can plan ahead. In the middle class, security comes from accumulating money and things; for the poor, the family is the basis of their security.
According to Ms. Payne, we need to get the affected people involved in identifying areas of need. And we need to listen to what they say, and empower them to act. And, she warned, don't expect change to happen easily or quickly! It takes 12 to 13 years to get a critical mass for change, she said. A 20 to 25 year plan is setting a realistic time frame. She stressed that proposals for real change will be resisted, even attacked. To make changes happen, she stressed, takes courage, persistence and stamina.
More to come ... On November 19th the League hosted a showing of "A Place at the Table", a powerful film focusing on hunger in America. It was followed by a panel discussion including Rev. Phil Grigsby, Executive Director of Schenectady Inner City Ministry (SICM), Deb Catozzi, Executive Director of the Hunger Action Network and Margie Skinner, Board Chair of The Food Pantries, all individuals with long experience working with those in poverty. Sara Foss, Daily Gazette columnist, was a well-informed moderator. An article will be in the next Bulletin.
The speaker at our Holiday Luncheon on Wednesday, December 11th will also address the issue of poverty. Michael Saccocio, Executive Director of the City Mission, will describe "The Culture of Poverty." Mr. Saccocio has been at the City Mission, working with people in extreme poverty, for close to 25 years. He comes with a depth of understanding of the issues underlying poverty. Be sure to come.
Ruth Bonn, Lead
Other issues, such as Health Care Defense and Budget/Taxes may be acted on as opportunities arise for League action, if they do not interfere with action on an LWVUS priority, and it appears the LWVUS can make an impact.
The Board considered many issues and the responses from League members suggesting Legislative Priorities. The decisions were based on what issues are likely to come before the 113th Congress, the opportunities to make an impact, program decisions made by members at the last Convention, member interest, and resources available to manage these priorities effectively. The Board reviews these priorities throughout the year, making changes if necessary.
Carol Furman Lead for December 2013-February 2014
Joan Elliott Lead for March-May 2014
Kay Ackerman Lead for June 2014-August 2014