The National Film Board of Canada came up with a documentary recently about an aging suburb in the northeast corner of Toronto called Flemingdon Park. It’s an honest piece of work directly engaging the people and place. Now, Flemingdon Park is not exactly south central Los Angeles but it sure ain’t film festival Toronto either. Rarely does this flopped Utopia ever make it into the mass media in the GTA unless some young man has just gotten murdered in a housing project. Lack of transit and poor socioeconomic conditions are combined with a lacklustre aesthetic environment that you would imagine from the outside all but destroys meaningful human experience or connection to place. The people of Flemingdon Park may be an archetype of life in many North American suburbs because of the former but they might surprise viewers a little on the latter.
We thought it good form to find some content from the interwebs that contradicted our own take on the issue at hand lest we be judged smug, dismissive. A semi-anonymous blog post from this summer fits the bill nicely and is linked to below. It employs the relativity argument. Not derived from Einstein’s view of the universe this is a technique beloved of those politically to the right. A cross-comparison to global poverty is usually involved. It is designed to shut down arguments about social policy in a developed country and is, in our experience, driven by fear, loathing and the lack of experience of life though it is usually presented as highly rational and objective. Such positions on social matters remind us that the battle against poverty need be waged as much in middle and upper class brains as in government offices, clothing banks, soup kitchens and shelters.
Suburban poverty? The Burning Platform
SPENT is an online game in which the player does not blast away at a marauding zombie army, land on the Normandy beaches, fly a thirty million dollar attack drone or steal cars. No, this game, which has been something of a cult hit, expects you to die trying at something infinitely more nasty and lethal: life on a wage of $9 an hour.
Lock and load and good luck with that one!
SPENT the game
SPENT, the Online Game About Surviving Poverty and Homelessness, Reaches Its Millionth Play and Invites Congress to Accept the Challenge article
Johnson County, in northeastern Kansas, is among the jurisdictions starting to encounter suburban poverty. Enough of it to see to the production of this 38 page presentation on the matter this spring.
Poverty: at home in the suburbs
United Community Services of Johnson County
More 2010 US census analysis is trickling into the mainstream media. The stats show Texas, Florida and California really taking the cake when it comes to suburban poverty.
…or maybe that should be a carton of stale Twinkies from the food bank.
Poverty pervades the suburbs
CNN Money with map & video
Well, he’d go mental on it if his track record of public statements is anything to go by. Apparently the Bible mentions suburbs. That’s one of the things we learned from the item linked below. You can make it your go to reference for the Christian perspective on suburban poverty.
Linda Bergquist on the new suburban poor churchleaders.com
When we started suburban-poverty.com we had no idea what we’d come across. Texas has surprised us a little. Perhaps because right wing presidential hopeful Perry hails from Texas the state is enjoying some extra profile in North American discourse. It seems the economy is doing well in right wing terms: lots of new crap jobs, low taxes and so forth. The state is also physically more or less on fire from one end to the other, has been a brutal series of global warming oranges and reds on the continental weather maps for some time now. Here’s some more Texas consciousness for you:
Poverty in the suburbs looks different than urban models
It just keeps getting better with Elizabeth Warren. I mean, who else do you think we’d have a crush on around here? A critter like Ayn Rand, uber goddess to the far right? A woman we just discovered spent the last seven years of her life collecting social security?
2010 Census data has come under analysis and it shows that the general US economy is not in the best of shape. Curiously, the percentage rate of African American poverty is a just a tad lower than that for white Americans. It’s hard to say off-the-cuff what this means but we see it’s enough to get this emerging downturn labelled in the mainstream media as ‘different this time’ and as a suburban recession/depression.
Welcome to the suburban depression CNBC
A modest moment of truth and advocacy in the UK online press today. How lovely, after all the recent idiocy over Murdoch, to be reminded such moments are possible.
A major HR industry figure in a western country has spoken some truth for the record. Not a pleasant truth, no. But surely the truth is a good place to start when assessing where it’s all going? The only thing the chief economist for the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development forgot to add to his description of younger people’s job prospects was “…and in the suburbs.”
Youngsters put off work by ‘crap’ jobs, says CIPD: Employers who moan that young people lack the right attitude for jobs should acknowledge that in many cases the roles they offer are “crap” and low paid Telegraph