How can we fight poverty?

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Long-term Help or Right Now Needs?

DSCN0672Are you a person who has experienced poverty and/or trauma and are now living a better life? Were you a first-generation college student? An abuse survivor? I am looking for people willing to share about the things that helped and hindered them the most. If you are interested in a brief, email interview, please send an email to larinamichelle(at)gmail.com with subject line “Interview.” You will have the option to keep your responses anonymous or to identify parts of the interview you don’t want to share. Nothing will be posted publicly without you seeing it first and without your explicit consent.

5 Food Help Tips that Make a Long-Term Difference for People in Poverty

Food is a right-now need, but it has long-term consequences. Undernutrition has significant long-term consequences that can keep someone from moving out of poverty due to chronic health conditions, increased stress on both the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, mental health strain (your body is consistently in fight-or-flight mode), cognitive impairment, and other factors. In the U.S., it is also a problem because many people, including physicians, don’t recognize it as a problem. At the height of my physical impairment, I was low on Vitamin D, Vitamin B12, magnesium, and potassium–years after I ceased being “poor.” My early childhood years were relatively stable where food was concerned, but the years that weren’t stable had a long impact. Even now, my body does not process vitamins the way it should.

Here are a few things that you can do to help:

  1. Donations come in fast around Christmas time, but people are hungry year-round. Summers are especially difficult for families because children who might usually get free or reduced lunch at school aren’t getting it. Fall is a hard time of year because families have just paid for school supplies. Add a date to your calendar in the late spring, mid-summer, and early fall to donate.
  2. If you donate food to a food drive, be conscious of the nutritional value of the food you donate. For every 3 food items you donate, donate 1 non-food item (toilet paper, feminine hygiene products, deodorant, toothpaste, etc). Food stamps do not pay for non-food items.
  3. Volunteer for a gleaning organization. Gleaners pick up leftover crops from fields so that people have fresh produce. People with disabilities and many senior citizens rely on volunteers in order for them to participate in these activities.
  4. If you have some garden-able land that you aren’t using, consider allowing some families to set up a community garden on it.
  5. Consider lining your front yard with pick-able produce like string beans.

Have other ideas? Email them to me at larinamichelle(at)gmail.com and I will add them to the list.

How Preparing for TEDxRoseburg Was a Lot Like a Nickelback Song

I have many identities. Some feel truer than others. I used to think I was weird because of this, but my studies and my experiences with a wide variety of people lead me to believe I am nowhere near alone. In fact, I might be weird if I was the same person everywhere, all the time.

We have selves: creative selves, spiritual selves, emotional selves, work selves, academic selves, secret selves and more. Don’t believe me? Think about how much a couple (romantic selves) change when their child walks into the room (to parenting selves). Think about how you answer the phone. It depends on where you are, who is calling, what time of day it is, who is with you, and a host of other factors.

Preparing for my talk, The Other Statistic, at TEDxRoseburg was a journey through past selves and a big question mark for the future self.

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The Price of Getting Our Green On in Corvallis

In Corvallis, the Sierra Club is trying to push through a ban on plastic bags combined with a fee on paper bags to “encourage use of reusable bags.” It makes a certain sort of sense on the outside. We all love the environment and want to live in a clean city. But we also want an equitable community and the only way to create an equitable community is to carefully consider the implications of our policies on every part of that community.

This means that as much as a bag ban might make environmentalists and street cleanup crews happy and as much as it might make business owners and many consumers unhappy, it could also have very tangible effects on the people in our community who live in poverty. In all of the hullaboo around this controversial policy recommendation, this is the one population that hasn’t even been mentioned.

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