Archive for the ‘partnership for the public good’ Category

Buffalo Poverty Research Workshop

Friday, February 26, 2010
1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Networking Reception: 4:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.

Merriweather Library
1324 Jefferson Avenue (at E. Utica) | Buffalo, New York 14208

Buffalo Poverty Research Workshop – Flyer (pdf)


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Greg Plotkin over at change.org’s Poverty in America Blog re-posted an article from the Herald Bulletin that touches on a lot of what the Poverty Challenge was all about.  The article, “Coping With Hard Times: Ambivalence about poverty” by Ashley Walker, examines some of the predominant ways that people view the poor and gives some possible explanations for why many people hold these views.  A very formative idea that guides many people’s thinking about poor people is the “rugged individualist” ideal, which is like a secular translation of the “Protestant work ethic”.  The basic tenet is that “if you work hard, you can make it”.  Walker cites numerous academics who find that this ideology ignores the numerous economic and social barriers to success that many people face and is rarely supported by social science.  A favorite quote in this article comes from Dr. Bruce MacMurray, professor of sociology and criminal justice at Anderson University:

“To suggest that the poor are poor because they are lazy or can’t save money or they are dumb is somewhat self-serving,” MacMurray said. “Those views allow those of us who don’t live in that environment to dismiss it as their problem rather than our problem — to say that they’re responsible for their own failure rather than to say that it stems from the problems of our society.”

In a town that is incredibly segregated, both racially and economically, it is rare for many higher income people to have very much meaningful interaction with lower income people.  The passionate declarations by many higher income people that the 1/3 of Buffalo that is impoverished is lazy, irresponsible, and morally bankrupt is understandable in view of MacMurray’s insight.  These accusations shift the causes of poverty off the economic and social inequalities (which oftentimes benefit the people making these accusations) and onto the poor themselves.

Through the Poverty Challenge we hope that higher income people can begin to get an understanding of at least some of the economic/financial challenges facing poor people.  Struggling through the Poverty Challenge, and seeing prominent political, faith, and community leaders struggle, will hopefully demonstrate how difficult and undesirable living in poverty is.  Obviously this cannot replace face-to-face, meaningful discussion with low-income people themselves but hopefully people will begin to see the accusations about the moral character of the poor as self-serving statements with no basis in social reality.

Once we can shift our focus away from blaming the poor for their poverty, then we can begin to focus on the economic and social inequalities like the dearth of accessible* well-paying jobs and high housing/utility costs, as Buffalo’s Partnership for the Public Good’s 2009 Community Agenda does.

*Accessible both transportation-wise and education-wise.

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Late last night we recieved an e-mail from our friend Aaron Bartley at PUSH.  It was a good reminder of the dance party being held tonight to benefit the Partnership for the Public Good and Massachusettes Avenue Project.  It should be a great time and its only 5 bucks to get in!  We hope to see you there!

This was Aaron’s e-mail.

Dear Friends –

The first Movement Party jumps off tomorrow night (Friday) at 8 PM, and what a party it promises to be. Here’s why you should be there:

1. We’ve got the best DJ’s in Buffalo. If you like real hip-hop music, rooted in the best of the jazz-soul-funk tradition, then Cutler and LoPro are your people. They’ve proven they can get a crowd moving without sacrificing their creativity and originality.

2. You’ll be joining the fight for social justice in our city. The proceeds go to the Partnership for the Public Good–a network of community-based groups working on issues like poverty and the urban environment–as well as Massachusetts Avenue Project, which teaches urban youth about the fruits of urban farming and the beauty of eating local. What better setting than Langston Hughes for a movement party. PPG affiliated groups include Ujima Theater, ReUse, the WNY Homeless Alliance, Buffalo First, PUSH, CEJ and MAP.

3. There will be crumpers and b-boys on the scene to lead the way.

4. There will be a puppet parade led by Buffalo’s creative collective (Kyla Kegler, Pat Cain, Gabe Guttierez) at some point in the night.

5. Russell Pascatore, a leading light on the local poetry scene, will bless us with an ode to the absurdities of late-late capitalism. No better way to respond to the financial crisis than with a prayer by Russell.

6. We will DANCE and Flying Bison will flow.

“The Movement”
Friday, October 3rd, 8 PM
Langston Hughes Institute
25 High Street, near Main and High
$5 at the door
This is a 21+ event

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