June 9, 2019
Winston-Salem and Forsyth County have taken on a daunting task, one worthy of support and approval, but one that must be buttressed by a lot of hope and help. John Railey and Chanel Nestor are trying to create a robust partnership to address poverty in the city and county. Their primary partners will be, if things go as planned, those in our city and county who have been assaulted by globalism, changing consumer practices, racism, lower expectations, and struggling public services. But the overarching goal is to have the entire city and county as partners who will help identify anti-poverty programs that will work because we all have a vested interest in their success. When and if that happens, a genuine partnership for prosperity will have been established. If it doesn’t happen, then The Partnership for Prosperity will become one more well-intentioned battle in the War on Poverty that falls short. To ensure that it happens, John and Chanel are making available opportunities to participate in planning groups open to anyone who wants to help design the programs. If you want to pitch in, you can start by attending the June 20th forum on Transportation and Poverty Alleviation at the Central Library between 4 and 6 p.m. Check out their website at partnershipforprosperityws.org for more information.
Two people with less than two years to make this Partnership work – that’s when the funding runs out – can’t do it all by themselves. They will need help. Help from all of us, the 25 percent who need help and the 75 percent who are getting along OK. One thing I can do is surf the Internet’s inexhaustible supply of analyses into those anti-poverty programs that have been created in other cities to fight poverty, to learn what made them successes or failures. I would hope that whatever I learn might add to the store of knowledge city/county officials have already compiled and might even prove useful when it comes to evaluating whether it could be something Winston-Salem and Forsyth County could find worthy of duplicating. But the most useful outcome I could hope for is that those who read my posts use this blog to share any experiences or any ideas they’ve had for fighting poverty.
I do know there are many in Winston-Salem who have been involved because Jerry McLeese and I, before he died, interviewed twenty-eight folks who have made significant contributions to the “transformation” of the city from heavy industrial to an information-based economy. From them we learned the extent and nature of poverty in Winston-Salem and Forsyth County and what they are doing to address the problem. I plan to share that modest survey of those we interviewed with readers this week.
What the Not for Profits (including the churches) have done and are doing is impressive. Nonetheless, as one of those we interviewed said about these efforts: “It is never enough, so we just have to do the best we can; but we are never satisfied.” That’s because Poverty affects us all. Reduced to its most simplistic terms, poverty affects us all because we all pay for it with our taxes. The more poverty there is in a city, the more taxes – Federal, State, and local – that are spent on programs to alleviate poverty. The less poverty there is, the larger our tax base is. In tough times, the anti-poverty programs in cities with large pockets of poverty are vulnerable to budget cuts and that just acerbates the problem. It’s not rocket science. As Mayor Joines said in announcing the creation of The Partnership for Prosperity: “We want to make sure whatever is implemented actually reduces poverty.” If we want our taxes spent on things that enhance the spiritual values of our city, then we will be diligent and earnest in our collective fight against poverty.
For the foreseeable future, I will be concentrating on what I can do to help The Partnership for Prosperity. I invite everyone to pitch in however they can. If you have a suggestion on how you think Winston-Salem and Forsyth County can get a handle on poverty, use the comment section on Facebook or at the bottom of this post. I’ll make sure they get in front of John and Chanel. Better yet, tell them yourself.
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