Intro by Jeffrey Stec; transcriptions by Dale Marie Prenatt.
On June 22, 2016, UACC hosted a “community conversation” for the City of Cincinnati Child Poverty Collaborative. While the Collaborative usually has attendees answer four basic questions in small table groups (What does success addressing poverty look like five years from now? What are the barriers to that success? How can those barriers be overcome? What are the assets of your community?), UACC asked Jeffrey Stec to design a meeting agenda that “would tap into the magic of our community,” according to Mike Maloney, who worked with Jeffrey on the agenda.
Mike opened the meeting by asking everyone to tell the Collaborative what is unique about the Appalachian community in how it handles poverty. Each person in the room introduced themselves and gave “a headline” about what they wanted the Collaborative to know. Then several people told a personal story that embodied the situation and spirit of Appalachians dealing with poverty, with the entire group providing insights into “what that story meant to them.” This video captures the highlights of those headlines, stories, and group discussion.
Community conversations were held throughout Cincinnati in neighborhoods where child poverty is especially problematic. After gathering first-hand experiences from communities, the Collaborative contracted with the Rand Corporation to extract from all of this a new approach to child poverty in Cincinnati. This video content has been shared with the Collaborative and will play a role as they arrive at new solutions.
The Collaborative is expected to unveil their findings at a summit Saturday, October 29th from 8:30am-12pm at the Duke Energy Convention Center. UACC Stewards and followers are encouraged to register and attend the summit to establish our presence in this initiative. To register, use the form at the Collaborative website.
COMMUNITY CONVERSATION HIGHLIGHTS
Mike Maloney, UACC President – “The Urban Appalachian Council used to have a list of what it took to be effective in working with urban Appalachians. I hope you all can remember some of the things on that list because I think they are really true.”
Dr. Camille Jones, Deputy Director, Cincinnati Health Department – “The majority of the neighborhoods that have high Appalachian populations were in the area of the neighborhoods that had the lowest life expectancy. So that’s something that might surprise the Collaborative, because if you look at the overall city statistics, that’s telling a different story….”
Debbie Zorn, UACC – “The communities that Dr. Jones spoke about are strong, resilient communities and enabling the family and community structures within these communities is something that we can do.”
Alanna Maloney, Montessori Teacher – “Parents of students who live in poverty are not help seekers. Students who are 12, 13, and 14 years old who I believe will qualify for special education but have never been tested. No one’s ever told them to get tested, no one’s ever said, “This child need extra help.” …So these families are not looking for help, they don’t know there is anything wrong, and they need help.”
Nancy Laird, UACC and neighborhood activist – “We do things and have fun together, work together, we help each other… If someone dies, the women in the neighborhood get together and provide the food for the gathering that follows the funeral. This is an outpouring of community. …A lot of folks are using their own food stamps to help provide.”
Jim Holmstrum, Santa Maria –“I believe that change is possible but the key to any change starts with building relationships and helping people and giving them the tools and giving them the confidence to believe they can make the change. So that’s my headline. …The relationship is really, really important. If people trust you, it opens the door, but it takes some time to gain trust, it doesn’t happen overnight.”
Katie Taylor, Research Committee, UACC – “Over the years, so many different cultural voices have come into this space and what it means to be Appalachian is very diverse now, so that idea of invisibility has expanded. Now we have people in our community who are Affrilachian, Puerto Rican-Appalachian coming from rural areas, we’re connected in this way… There is a connection between their trust the ways that you speak. So if someone hears an Appalachian accent or they can connect with you around the idea that you’re both from that culture that creates trust that then inspires people to be able to stay in educational programs.”
Elissa Pogue, former social worker in Lower Price Hill – “There was a woman that lived across the street from me who was challenged to live by herself but she managed to because of the support of the community… The neighborhood, then, was about people not things. … She managed even without anybody actively taking her under their wing. She did it with the tacit support of the community.”
Jeffery Stec, Citizens for Civic Renewal, Facilitator: “What did that story mean to you?” Various responses: “’It takes a village’ mentality”, “The value of informal support systems”, “Community acceptance”, “Non-responsive landlords”, “continuing eviction threats”
Donna Jones, long-time neighborhood activist – “We don’t have jobs anymore… When we worked with the kids, they had ownership of this community. We did projects that they were proud of. They took pride in what they did. And I think that’s something that’s lost in this community now because we don’t have the jobs for the youth… Its ownership – I live here and what I’m doing is benefiting where I live and the people that I care about.”
Mike Henson, long-time neighborhood activist – “There’s resources that are available in the community, and strengths that are available in these communities. We’re talking a lot about Lower Price Hill but there are a lot of other Appalachian communities, too. But for those resources to be able to be fully used and those strengths to be maximized, they need help. If we don’t have the structures that we had, we don’t have the investment.”
Donna Jones, long-time neighborhood activist – “One of the things I will say about the Appalachian community is they do have pride. And when you treat them with disrespect they will not go back. And they will not always say they are struggling. And that is something that I feel has to be changed so that we can help people. It’s the way you treat them. And if they feel like you’ve disrespected them, they can hold a grudge for a long time.”
Jeff Dey – “One thing I’ve observed is that this is a community that not only has needs but has so much that they could give other neighborhoods and communities in how to do more with less. You think about the Loaves and Fishes, it was invented here… I think other neighborhoods could learn from them.”
Mike Maloney – What I think of what Donna said and what Jim said and others have said is the importance of neighborhood relations and programs. That’s how you get a 40-year relationship with Jim or Donna. That’s how you can help multiple generations.”