Wednesday, October 15, 2008

In the Shadows of the Rose Bowl

Today is Blog Action Day 2008. This year's theme is poverty.

In a speech he made in July of 2000, Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard said, "the vast majority of Pasadena residents cannot afford the median priced home that exists in our community today." And that was before the housing price boom.

Things have certainly changed since then. The most recent statistics I found were cited in an article by Peter Dreier in Pasadena Weekly from September, 2007. At first the numbers make it look like poverty levels are decreasing in Pasadena. But at closer examination, Dreier discovers that there are fewer poor people in Pasadena because they're leaving. They can't afford to live here. Yep, Pasadena is a prosperous community.

I wonder how things will change in the days to come. I wonder, as the world's financial crisis plays out, if we'll need to do more than just write checks to charity to keep our communities afloat. Maybe the crisis will be a crisis by definition: short-lived. Maybe we'll all be fine. Or maybe poverty will hit home. What will we do? Serve food? Build homes? Get our hands dirty? Will someone do that for us if we're in need?

I've heard pundits call it "the American financial crisis." What they fail to understand is that we're part of the world. Our economy is global. Our society is global, too. If society is global, then poverty has already hit home.

What will we do? What will you do? What will I do?

16 comments:

ben wideman said...

Petrea, thank you so much for your powerful words this morning. Well said!

Laurie said...

More than any of the other issues that have upset me in this campaign season, I am disappointed at the lack of attention on poverty. This is why Edwards' affair with whats-her-name broke my heart -- he was the poverty guy, the one in my party who was making this a priority, and his entire poverty initiative was forgotten after news about his extramarital activities. I'm still waiting for Obama to address this in any detail because it is very real -- even more real now that our economy and that of the world's seems to hang by a thread.

I have never heard of Blog Action Day. I am looking forward to exploring the site to learn more.

As always, Ms. P, you speak to issues that matter to me and use pictures to say even more. THanks for this post, today. I think we all need to explore how we will respond to poverty on a personal and community level. We're all in this together.

Susan C said...

I agree with you wholeheartedly, Laurie.

Years ago, I volunteered at the YWCA's (now defunct) homeless shelter for women. The greatest lesson from that experience was that those women were just like you and me. I also learned that the problem is huge complex and requires support from government, non-profits AND individuals.

USelaine said...

It's amazing how cities take for granted that low wage workers will commute in from elsewhere to fill vital, but dull, positions that keep their microcosm working smoothly.

Great post, P.

Petrea said...

Ah, Laurie, I was disappointed with Edwards for that reason, too. He was the most left and the most outspoken.
I heard about Blog Action day from a comment on another blog yesterday, kind of at the last minute. I like the concept. I don't know how profound it will be in the grand scheme of things.

Susan, I suppose poverty is as old as the human race. Maybe it will always exist. I wonder: does it have to exist? Is it because of human nature? Is it because we're selfish? Scared? There's enough to go around, but socialism terrifies us, doesn't it? You were good to volunteer.

Excellent point, Elaine. Every city needs poor people. Otherwise, who'll clean the public bathrooms, bus the tables, sweep the streets, all for a low wage?

If that's going to work in Pasadena then we'd better vote for better (and cheaper) public transportation...

Trish said...

Amazing what happens when you don't LOOK at the issues. If you stay out of the realm of the homeless or almost homeless, you do not see the struggle, the pain, the suffering.

Until it hits home.

So many are thisclose to being homeless. This blip on our radar screen is going to hit folks hard, as is this housing market.

Yet some still turn a blind eye. They have enough, so they are fine.

But what folks do not see is community. How when one family moves (or gets removed), then another, then another, then another. How the neighborhood and city are changed. How important knowing your neighbors is, in good times and bad. 20+ years ago when the hills above Linda Vista burned, the entire neighborhood pulled together. When my grandmother took a fall, the neighbors helped to repair a window when the FD broke in to help her. I bet if I went back to the street my grandparents used to live on, I could still chat up a half dozen neighbors they used to know though it has been a while since my grandparents moved out. All that tends to go by the wayside when communities break down.

I too am disappointed when the candidates ignore issues---but the fact is, people without money will not donate to their campaigns. People without addresses cannot register to vote. They will be ignored.

sigh!

Cafe Observer said...

The financial crisis we're currently being xposed 2 will be relatively mild compared to the other problems in our economy.

My guess on how things will change in the next couple of years: if nothing else, we'll consume/spend less while trying to save more. 4 de rest of de world, I suspect it will be the reverse if they don't want their economies to sink.

We'll see the closing of more middle/high income stores. They'll be replaced with more low income/99cent type stores, more yard sales, etc.

And, a myth is that we are "the wealthiest country on earth!" As an acct, I would say we are the biggest debtor nation on de planet. We owe, owe, owe. Maybe with the reduced availablity of credit, we & our govt "leaders" will finally live within our budget, w/i our means. Anyone but de fedgovt would file for bankruptcy.

L, Sen. Edwards? Well...he is a lawyer & politician afterall. It's time for some K9 wisdom in govt.

Pray 4 our nation/economy that it will have few speed bumps in its future.

Petrea said...

I don't want to look at this issue myself. I admit it.

Notice the dearth of comments today. Poverty is not fun, it's not funny, it's hard to make jokes about. Easy to joke about the economy, not so easy to joke about poor people.

Who knows? Maybe the economy won't tank, and we'll be able to stop worrying about ourselves and take care of the people who are suffering, regardless of what the economy does.

dina said...

Thanks for your heart-felt and thought-provoking words and photo. And for the Blog Action Day idea (for next time).
I always wondered what Jesus meant in Mark 14:7 "Because you will always have the destitute with you and can help them whenever you want, but you will not always have me."
Something like this? -- To you who murmur and say that this ointment should have been sold and the money given to the poor, let me say that you have the poor always with you so that you may minister to them at any time it seems good to you; but I shall not always be with you.

Miss Havisham said...

The measure of true prosperity is how many times you have people in for a meal with you.

Therese said...

Spend less, save more (if possible of course) use and reuse...
One step at the time with your neighbors first and widening the circle...
Easy to say. Ideas are not enough.
Great post Petrea!

Petrea said...

Dina, don't laugh, but I think I remember that from "Jesus Christ, Superstar." I don't know if we'll always have the poor, but we've always had them. I don't know why that is. Why must there be poor people? This I don't understand. It doesn't mean we shouldn't help.

Miss H. you are wise.

Therese, you're onto something: less waste, more to go around.

Cafe Observer said...

MH, i love the simplicity of your comment. i wholefoods-heartedly agree with your perspective.

4 sum reason it really fills my stomach, i mean my heart!

i would just add "dogs" to your people.

Dina said...

Petrea, would I laugh at that? No, but I'm enjoying a big smile. :D
You know, I never got to see "Jesus Christ, Superstar." But when it came out, my stepdaughters were always playing the record in the house, so I picked up lots of songs.
Maybe he said "the poor with/among you" to emphasize that they should not be shunted off but should stay, well, WITH or AMONG us.

Petrea said...

Ah, good point, Dina. Seems Pasadena's shunting them off, doesn't it?

I read a report this morning online that said there will be more homelessness created by the housing crisis in America and we will have to organize protection and care because "they are us." (among us?)

The scene in JC Superstar we refer to in this conversation was accompanied by the song "Everything's All Right" (Yes Everything's Fine), in case you remember that. Mary M washes Jesus' feet with ointments and the disciples complain that the money spent on the ointment could have been given to the poor. The discussion you mention ensues. Et cetera.

By the way Ted Neeley, who played Jesus in the film, still tours in the role according to Wikipedia. Carl Anderson, who played Judas, died in 2004.

Dina said...

I see I have a lot of catching up to do on the movie. Maybe Jerusalem Cinemateque will show it someday.
Yes, the times are achanging. Who knows what will happen.