A Community Conversation

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Blog 3 7 19 Community Conversation SM

Community Conversations are being facilitated by Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities volunteers

Contributor: Contributor: Nanci Micke, Vice President of Marketing and Communications at United Way Fox Cities

Last week, I attended a Community Conversation preparing for the upcoming visit of author Matthew Desmond. As a part of the Fox Cities Reads Program, Mr. Desmond will be talking about his book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City in April.

The conversation was facilitated by members of Celebrate Diversity Fox Cities, who asked us what our one word would be to describe the book. As we went around the room, all of our words were negative. Overwhelming, sad, hopeless, and depressing were all the words that were shared.

Then we talked about the people in the book, both landlords and renters, and their struggles. Several people in attendance shared their life experiences and talked about growing up in poverty. It was a rich discussion, with heartfelt comments of empathy for the people who are the main focus of the book.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is set in Milwaukee, but many of the issues in the book are ones that we see here in the Fox Cities. Excellent resources that document the state of poverty and homelessness in the Fox Cities were provided as part of the discussion.

We were then asked to share what we could do individually to help people living in poverty and came up with a long list in a short time. Ideas included becoming a mentor to a child, providing gas vouchers to organizations that help those in need, and being volunteers for organizations that are helping those who are struggling.

Then we moved on to sharing our ideas of what the community could do together. Again, the list grew with solid ideas. As we wrapped up the evening, our facilitators once again asked us to share one word that would express our feelings.

The words were very different: Caring, Empathy, Hopeful, and Kind Hearts. 

Matthew Desmond won the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Critics Circle Award, Carnegie Medal, and PEN for Evicted. I encourage you to attend one of the upcoming events to hear the author on April 11 and 12. There are also five more opportunities to be part of a Community Conversation.