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Seven Ways to Build a Movement that Includes Poor and Rich

Sojourners Be the Change CoverIn the latest issue of Sojourners, Onleilove Alston lays out a brief how-to guide to mindful and inclusive organizing against poverty and racism. Her model is a group called The Poverty Initiative, formed at Union Theological Seminary in Manhattan. 

“I have experienced well-meaning Christians from more privileged backgrounds who feel called to serve poor people,” she writes, “but instead end up negating their autonomy and enacting charity, as opposed to justice.”

She writes her “seven ways” in frank Christian language, but her wisdom could easily be adapted to secular groups. Here is an excerpt from her list:

Make a habit of supporting indigenous leaders: If you are called to relocate to serve a different community, first seek out existing local leaders in that community. No one can be “given” a voice; instead, those of privilege must step aside so that everyone’s voice is heard.

 Socially locate yourself: In my work with the Poverty Initiative, we talk about our experiences with poverty or privilege and what has brought us to this work. Within the Poverty Initiative’s work, this practice has given a voice to white poverty, an issue ignored by many anti-poverty movements.

Find strong, detail-oriented critics who will judge your actions, not just your intentions; listen to criticism without panic or anger: We need to have people around us who can gently critique our actions to ensure that we are not operating in racism, classism, sexism, or some other “ism” that will hinder the movement.

Sources: Sojourners 

tom hendricks
3/16/2009 8:13:58 PM

I suggest a way to end all world poverty. And to do it without spending any money. Not one penny. Instead you spend the interest on money. Let's use the US for example. You set up Community Bank Accounts, one for each state. The money is put into local banks in that state with these two requirements. The banks must give a solid interest to get this massive amount of money infusion from the government - say 5% - and the banks can only lend to people and companies in that state. The interest on the money goes to the state to spend. The capital is never spent, not one penny is ever spent. Instead the capital is used to generate the interest for that state. Now specifics. Let's use slightly more money than was spent on the stimulus. That's 1,000 billion. 1,000 billion divided by 50 states = 20 billion. At 5% interest that capital brings in 1 billion or 1,000 million every year. That is 83 million every month. Because the capital is NEVER spent the 83 million in interest comes in every month FOREVER and EVER and EVER and EVER and EVER and - you get the point.. I would suggest that the money be spent this way. The first month's interest goes to the most populated county in the state. The second goes to the 2nd most populated county and so forth. When you get to the very small rural counties you might bunch them together to get a minum of 10,000 population, treat them as one county, and give that group their share. Then start all over again. Repeat over and over again. Some benefits 1. Capital is never spent - not one dime. 2. Interest comes in FOREVER AND EVER - 83 million each and every month. 3. Banks have money they must loan out to local customers. 4. There is very little bureaucracy. 5. It is fast - and pumps money the month after it's set up, into each and every state. 6. The Government can pull back the money it needs during a crisis.