Tag Archives: social conditions

(995) Ohio beyond the DNC

OhioAmerica’s two great political gatherings present a distressing mixture of aesthetics seemingly lifted from rodeo clowns and science fiction conventions layered over something slick and carefully managed.  If you think that generates dissonance, join the rest of us at the bar.  Suitably reinforced, we might go along, like Guardian correspondent Chris Arnade, to a pair of Ohio communities around the corner from the Democratic National Convention.  Parma is a former manufacturing town and Center is defined by its housing projects.

What do Donald Trump voters really crave? Respect. They want respect because they haven’t just lost economically, but also socially. But it’s dangerous territory: anger tainted with revenge and, sometimes, racism

(991) CBC feature: food mirage, food deserts

fooddesertOne of the top three or four most clicked-upon postings at suburban-poverty.com is (138) Left Coast Food Deserts from June of 2012.  Recent efforts at University of Winnipeg to fine tune the understanding of this phenomenon have just emerged.  Sprawl watchers may note the role driving a motor vehicle plays in helping define who lives in a food dessert.
Food mirages leave Canadians knocking on food bank doors. Food insecurity still a problem when available nutritious food sources aren’t affordable for many
cbc.ca – see other links

(975) 1980s social housing [Excerpt from Subdivided]

socialhusingTruth for smug Canadians via moments of return from writer Jay Pitter as she walks the Toronto social housing complex she lived in during the 1980s.  Excerpted from Subdivided, City-Building In An Age of Hyperdiversity, a new release from Coach House Press.
A visit to the social housing community of my childhood
nowtoronto.com

(953) Evicted [Book review]

evicted
Evicted. Poverty and Profit in the American City

Matthew Desmond
Crown Publishers, NY
432 pages
CAN $37.00 hardcover
What a knockout.  The more we think about this book the more we have to admire it.  Matthew Desmond took on his subject in a way that very few authors can: by going and living it bodily for an extended period of time.
Ethnography is a discipline within anthropology and sociology that involves direct observation of social interaction from within, or very close to, that interaction.  Milwaukee’s slum apartments and a large, dumpy (yet lucrative) trailer park are the settings at hand.  They are representative ones, unfortunately, in an America still longing for recovery.
Evicted reads often like a novel.  Desmond’s presentation of a brace of poor people, and those who make a living off of them, with historical background and socioeconomic data is nearly seamless.  Without this phenomenon Evicted would have been pretty tough going.  There’s a lot of serious bullshit and misery in America these days.
Indeed, the constant churn of misfortune in this book is awful.  Bouncing from one crap apartment in some bad neighbourhood to the next, the individuals Desmond lived beside are constantly stertched by fighting to stay ahead of total disaster.  Eviction is something of a new force acting on the lives of America’s poor, falling particularly hard on top of African American lives.  Desmond describes eviction as something of a handmaiden to mass incarceration.  The worst part of it all is just how lucrative the poor are for landlords, property owners, moving-and-storage companies.
Eviction’s depressing panorama is contemporary America for a lot of people.  Desmond tells us that nearly one third of Milwaukee’s evicted population are black females even though they are only nine percent of the general population (page 98).  Stuff like this is crazy.  It makes for quite depressing reading.
To be truthful, we nearly gave up a couple of times on all the rough apartments and dodgy building owners that are encountered here. What do you think having your personal effects piled on the curb feels like because you fell behind on the rent?  Evicted is important, though.  Much of its reality remains unstudied, undocumented and ignored by society at large.  This is not good, Americans deserve better.
As optimistic Canadians we would have liked it if half of Evicted had been like the twenty-page epilogue: stronger on solutions and positive statements rather than the narrative of bad luck and systemic grief.  We could urge the proactive adoption of specific policies to protect Canada’s post-industrial communities.
Desmond believes an expanded housing voucher program would liberate people like those he wrote about.  If such a program were large enough and well-funded it would probably function almost like a universal basic income, helping to reinforce a socio-economic level that nobody need fall below.
Hard reading on an important topic for anyone interested in contemporary American life.  Almost made easy by the author’s level of commitment and writing skills.   Buy this book.
evictedbook.com for the book trailer, photos, links and other features

Will this new book change the national debate on poverty?
thenation.com