My Technorati “poverty” tag subscription has brought me a string of posts in recent days from a project called “Voices of Poverty,” a podcast series put together by the Leadership Charlottesville group of mid-career business-people in Charlottesville, Virginia. From what I can gather, it appears that this Chamber of Commerce program engages future business leaders in an examination of key civic issues that Charlottesville will be grappling with for years to come. Sounds like a terrific program. We have something similar in our community — the Berkshire Leadership Program, coordinated by our Berkshire Chamber of Commerce.
The Voices of Poverty project, so far consisting of four podcast interviews lasting about 8 minutes each, strikes me as a quite powerful way to actually expose an influential group of people to lives lived in poverty. Even business leaders who are engaged in human service work — volunteering for the United Way, serving on boards of directors, etc. — often have few opportunities to hear directly, and at length, from the poor. That experience is ultimately more important than analyses of poverty statistics and discussions with nonprofit CEOs. I particularly appreciated this interview about the experience of a woman who emigrated from Mexico and has been struggling to gain a better financial foothold in Charlottesville. The interviews are thoughtfully conducted and well edited; the parts I’ve listened to haven’t seemed amateurish at all.
This makes me think I should contact the people who run the Berkshire Leadership Program and get those folks engaged in our asset development initiative.