Image

6:48 PM / Saturday February 24, 2018

3 Nov 2017

The Real and the Imagined

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
November 3, 2017 Category: Local Posted by:

ABOVE PHOTO:  Councilman Curtis Jones speaks to participants during the event.  (Photo: Bill Z. Foster)

Image

What started out as a simulation of the challenges that the 26 percent of Philadelphians living in poverty  have to face on Tuesday turned into a field trip for the event’s organizer.

By Denise Clay

The purpose of the gathering of City Council people and their aides in the Mayor’s Conversation Room in City Hall on Tuesday was to give this group of people the chance to experience some of the issues that the 26 percent of the city’s population that lives in poverty deal with every day.

But what was supposed to be an illustration of the issues of poverty in a controlled environment became an opportunity to speak with people dealing with poverty in real time for City Councilman Curtis Jones Jr (D-  Dist. 4), one of the event’s organizers.

Jones– who was joined by fellow Councilpersons Cindy Bass (D- 8th Dist.), Derek Green (D- At-Large), Allan Domb (D- At-Large) and Bobby Henon (D- Dist. 6)–put together the event with the city’s Office of Community Empowerment and Opportunity and the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Councilwoman Cindy Bass and Councilman Curtis Jones go over itinerary for poverty simulation. (Photo: Bill Z. Foster)

It was a simulation that included such things as cashing a check at a bank, paying a past-due electric bill and rent when there’s only enough money to do one or the other, feeding a family of five on less than $300 in food stamps and dealing with children with issues ranging from behavioral problems to mental illness.

The idea behind it was to give his colleagues some insight into what these citizens face as a means of helping them get better services from their city, Jones said.

“Twenty-five million Philadelphians live this reality every day,” he said. “Some of them are in deep poverty. We’re here to experience something we don’t have to.”

Many of these people don’t fit the stereotypes that many people have when it comes to the poor, said Bass, whose experience as a child growing up in a single parent home where times were often tight informed her participation.

“A lot of these folks go to work every day,” she said. “But they work for people who don’t want to give their workers a living wage or health insurance. It’s shameful. We have to push our corporate leaders to do better.”

Pamela Lawrence, an administrator from the Department of Housing and Urban Development, introduced the simulation, which divided the gathering into small groups representing families. They were going to read the scenarios and go through them accordingly.

Councilman Allan Domb talks with event volunteers in the simulation. (Photo: Bill Z. Foster)

Or at least that was the idea. After Lawrence finished introducing the simulation, Asa Khalif of Black Lives Matter Pennsylvania and Isaac Gardner took to the podium, and while he didn’t want to be rude, he said that he also believed that this was the wrong place for council to learn about the issues that those dealing with poverty face.

The right place was the streets.

“We can take you into those neighborhoods,” Khalif said. “We can take you into those places where people need assistance. If you truly want to talk to the people, we can take you to them.”

The two men then waited to see who was interested in making the trip.

Only Jones, the councilman who had organized the simulation in the first place, was game. He walked out the door with Khalif, Gardner and Techbook Online’s Christopher “Flood the Drummer” Norris filming the visit. According to the Associated Press, the group ended up in Kensington, where Jones interviewed residents and saw true, intractable poverty up close.

He was shaken by the experience.

“We have to do better,” Jones told the AP. “We can’t just allow this.”

Meanwhile, the rest of the participants continued with the simulation, knowing that one of the emotions that poverty induces is anger.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter

Leave a Comment

Recent News

Go With The-Flo

Tamron Hall helps raise funds for the Apollo Theatre Foundation at the annual “Dining With The Divas” luncheon

February 22, 2018

ABOVE PHOTO:  Tamron Hall (Debby Wong/shutterstock)   By Florence Anthony Joking about her mother’s daughter being “unemployed”...

Color Of Money

Q&A with Ken Chenault, former CEO of American Express

February 22, 2018

ABOVE PHOTO:  CEO and Chairman of American Express Kenneth Chenault attends LMCC gala & benefit dinner at...

Food And Beverage

Throw a Hot-Pot Dinner Party

February 22, 2018

ABOVE PHOTO:  Caribbean Hot-Pot Broth with Papaya Pica Sauce   Family Features Heat up your next get-together...

Seniors

The secret to sticking to your resolutions just may lie in your Medicare benefits

February 22, 2018

BPT Despite our best intentions, 80 percent of us have given up on our New Year’s resolutions...

Health

Newly launched Cancer.com provides much needed personalized support for people impacted by cancer

February 22, 2018

BPT Whether you’ve helped a family member through treatment or are facing a diagnosis yourself, hearing the...

Horoscopes

SUNscopes for the week of Feb. 25

February 22, 2018

All Signs: This is the last week of the year when the Sun is in Aquarius. A...

The Philadelphia Sunday Sun Staff