“The digital divide isn’t just access, but also ability, and quality of information, and the common dignity of having equity of participation in our increasingly digital culture.”
I’m proud to say there has been a movement in Philadelphia on supporting the mission of libraries, and rethinking how they support their ultimate purpose, and that whenever funding has gotten seriously threatened, people have stood up.
For my part, I’m in talks with my local library to host an after school program teaching MIT’s Scratch. Following that I’d like to initiate a Code and Coffee meetup there and maybe encourage the Blogger Meetups that use to take place to consider local branch libraries as places to meet.
The numbers of those on Welfare have been dropping steadily since the 90s. Those numbers look to be rising again as cuts in services that provide tools for those wanting to climb the ladder are being slashed. NYTimes: “Cuts to Child Care Subsidy Thwart More Job Seekers”:
Last month, she lost her job as a hair stylist after her improvised network of baby sitters frequently failed her, forcing her to miss shifts. She qualifies for a state-run subsidized child care program. But like many other states, Arizona has slashed that program over the last year, relegating Ms. Wallace’s daughter, Alaya, to a waiting list of nearly 11,000 eligible children.
Despite a substantial increase in federal support for subsidized child care, which has enabled some states to stave off cuts, others have trimmed support, and most have failed to keep pace with rising demand, according to poverty experts and federal officials.
That has left swelling numbers of low-income families struggling to reconcile the demands of work and parenting, just as they confront one of the toughest job markets in decades.
An article that introduces us to a new news effort coming *from* Kensington deserves a special shout out because it is efforts like this that point us towards the future or news and maybe the neighborhood itself: “Philadelphia duo bring Internet attention to Kensington’s woes”. That duo is Richie Antipuna and Heather Barton and their video series can be found on Blip.tv.
I just had to round up these articles and post them to one page since the subject matter was so related. Now if there was a place to discuss these stories collectively. Reddit’s Philadelphia sub-reddit perhaps? That feels wrong. The stories need an official home someplace where people from the neighborhood and outside the neighborhood can discuss them collectively. Why do I care about that? Because when people connect over subject matter that is when ideas can take shape and action can take place.
While Center City Philadelphia is continuing a Renaissance that started in the 90s, for those living in many neighborhoods in Philly, life has not improved and in many respects, has gotten worst. Philadelphia’s challenge over the next decade is to keep growing the positive momentum that is taking place here and making sure it reaches all its neighborhoods, all its people. This is going to have to happen in a city whose state no longer has advocates in its assembly. It will be more difficult than people imagine.
Many who are politically motivated try and summarize the problems that neighborhoods like Kensington are soaked in to simple catch phrases and causes, but the problems are many fold. Just follow some of the terrible comments posted in this great, nuanced piece from the Inquirer “The Drugs Dilemma”.
There are some that doubt Philly has made all that much progress over the last 15 or so years. There is more than enough evidence it has (see the thoughts of Kristen Lee, and there was no way you could walk away from attending TEDXPhilly and know otherwise).
You could always describe Philly, accurately, as a city of neighborhoods. Each with its own character, accent, customs, and peoples. What we need to work to avoid is a far greater and in this case tragic divide. One of hope.
The Philadelphia Inquirer profiles the lives of families going hungry in Pennsylvania’s First Congressional District, home of a few of my old neighborhoods, Kensington, Fishtown, Frankford in Philadelphia: “A Portrait of Hunger”.
There is no excuse for letting anyone go hungry in the richest country in the world. None. The article points to three main culprits: a lack of paying work, a lack of guidance to services that can help, and the bureaucratic complexity of applying for those services as root causes.
It was the same for us when I was growing up and when I was out on the streets, sleeping on trains, I didn’t know who to go to for help, or how.
The comments posted on the article really go far in showing how low our culture has become in kicking people when they are down and blaming them entirely for their circumstances.
We’re all in this together. For some great commentary on this, check out Susie Madrak’s latest post. Like her I can still remember when my family needed help. I can remember being in line for a block of cheese at Bridge and Pratt. I remember all too well the chuckles of some at school due to the quality of my Salvation Army and Goodwill bought clothes. I remember the Salvation Army Santa Claus visiting the family to drop off some toys to make our Christmas brighter.
None of us are 100% self made and choosing to belabor that some people need help, instead of offering TO help, does no one any good. Please, if you are able, find some way, any way, to lend a hand.