3 Positive Ways To Be A Part of the Inevitable Gentrification Happening In Reading, PA

Written by David Nazario

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines gentrification as "the buying and renovation of houses and stores in deteriorated urban neighborhoods by upper or middle-income families or individuals, thus improving property values but often displacing low-income families and small businesses."

Doesn’t sound that bad right? The problem arises when those same people who have a genuine interest in the culture that make living in a place like Brooklyn, New York or Reading, PA so attractive to them, begin to dismiss that culture and appropriate it for their own gain. This is usually done without regard to those cultural norms and traditions that made them want to live, work, or own property in this urban dwelling in the first place.

This story is playing out all over the country right now – the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer. The quality of life isn’t improving, and black and brown people are being pushed out of their homes and communities due to increased rent and an influx of newcomers with more money and more access to resources to make money.

So let’s talk solutions. Here are three positive and strategic ways to be a part of the inevitable gentrification that is taking place here in our city.

1. Keep Your Culture Alive and Show Up at Events!

No one knows your culture or how to improve your city better than you do. When people who look like you have events in your downtown area or anywhere in the city for that matter, try your best to show up. Make it a point to attend an event at Mi Casa Su Casa, or Custom It, or Barrio Alegria. These establishments need you, and you need them too.

When Edna Garcia-Dipini (Dance On The Streets), or Samantha Thompson (First Friday) have an event you need to make an effort to attend. And when you go to the event don’t be afraid to spend a few dollars either. When you spend money in your community, you’re spending money on yourself. Network too. And if there’s music playing, dance, that wall doesn’t need you to hold it up, move somethin’.

2. Work Toward Being Self-Sufficient; Consider Buying or Renting Property and Starting A Business

The city is slowly but surely being renovated; we need people who have a real vested interest in this city to be a part of these renovations. Now is the time to invest in yourself and that business that you’ve always wanted to start. Take that leap of faith and open something that will benefit the city while also putting you in the position to be your own boss. Owning a businesses allows you to cultivate culture and have a say in the way that money is being spent in the city. Renting a property to house your business is also a viable option. The Kutztown University Small Business Development Center and SCORE are great resources to help you get started.

3. Get Involved With Local Politics

This one almost didn’t make the list. If it were up to me we would work toward overthrowing this whole corrupt system, and start this whole shit all over again. But it’s not up to me. I understand that there is real value in having actual residents who graduated from Reading High School sit in some of these seats and serve on some of these boards; it’s just not my thing. If you think it might be yours, educate yourself and seriously consider running for some type of office. Or, help out someone like Carissa Johnson, Brad Waples, or Sam Bryant win their elections. When city natives with real concerns sit in these seats we are better able to navigate things like gentrification and the recycling of poverty.

One other thing - if you’re representing a candidate that you know is not the best and most qualified for the job because it serves your own selfish self interests, or only advocating for Latinos because you’re Latino, or Blacks because your Black, do us all a favor and cut that out. No tenemos tiempo para eso.

 

 

 

Teenage Girl Turns Plastic Trash Into Million-Dollar Biofuel

An Egyptian teenager has discovered an inexpensive way to turn plastic trash into fuel — and it could be worth tens of millions of dollars a year.

Azza Faiad’s ideas attracted the attention of the Egyptian Petroleum Research Institute. The institute gave the teen access to a lab and its researchers in order to help refine her trash to fuel formula.

Faiad discovered a cheap and plentiful catalyst called aluminisilicate that drastically reduces the cost of converting plastic waste into gases like methane and propane, which can be turned into ethanol, what some scientists are calling “biofuel” because the organic chemicals from plastic polymers she extracts, are the same chemicals extracted from vegetation to create ethanol biofuel. Egypt produces a million tons of plastic trash every year, and it’s estimated Faiad’s process could convert that much trash into fuel worth $78 million every year.

In fact, she believes it could raise the total return to $163 million each year from Egypt’s plastic trash.

The European Union Contest for Young Scientists has already honored Faiad with a prize for her work and she is now working on a patent for her trash to fuel process.

Photo: CNN video

Jessica Jackley: Stories of Poverty and Entrepreneurship

Jessica Jackley is a cofounder of Kiva, a nonprofit based in San Francisco that allows people to lend small amounts of money to borrowers throughout the world. Since it was founded in October 2005, Kiva has initiated loans to more than a million people, including a seamstress in Paraguay, a cobbler in Kenya, and a cattle farmer in Tajikistan. Jackley, who received her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business in 2007, also started and ran ProFounder, which helped U.S.-based startups access capital through crowd funding. To read more http://www.gsb.stanford.edu/insights/jessica-jackley-stories-poverty-entrepreneurship

Powerful Photos Of Living In Poverty In The U.S.

There are over 45 million Americans living below the poverty line. Photographer Louisa Marie Summer has captured the story of one such family. In her book, Jennifer's Family, she photographed the highs and lows of the life of a 26-year-old Rhode Island woman, her partner, and their four kids. They've struggled with illness, money troubles, and incarceration, but at the center of the book is hope. "I want my kids to be better than I was, you know, as a kid," Jennifer explains in the book. "I want them to finish school and do a lot of things really good." Throughout the book, she expresses an innate selflessness: her hopes for her mother, her love for her kids, and her desire to make things better for her extended family. She never asks for more for herself. Jennifer's story is unique, but at the same time, it's relatable to anyone who's struggled to find their place in the world. Ahead, Summer talks about the inspiration for the project and her deep relationship with Jennifer and her family. http://www.msn.com/en-us/lifestyle/wellness/powerful-photos-of-living-in-poverty-in-the-us/ss-BBt7ga2?ocid=iehp

28-Year-Old Maci Peterson Creates App that Lets You Take Back Text Messages

There have been ongoing programs and initiatives set in place to close the STEM gender gap. Men dominate the field, and black women in particular are few and far in between the numbers. But things are changing, and young women like Maci Peterson make us very optimistic about the future.

Maci is the brainiac behind On Second Thought. The cleverly named innovation is an app that lets you take back text messages before the content is delivered to the receiving party. This app is a prayer answered to every college student who’s accidentally hit “send” to their moms and not their BFFs after a late Friday night/early Saturday morning.  To read more http://goodblacknews.org/2015/03/08/28-year-old-maci-peterson-creates-app-that-lets-you-take-back-text-messages/

Philadelphia Closes 23 Schools, New $400 Million Prison Being Built

Philadelphia officials are closing almost two dozen schools and decimating the budgets of the remaining schools under a so-called “doomsday” education plan.

However, amid all these cuts for education, the state of Pennsylvania is building a new $400 million prison for Philadelphia.

Pennsylvania’s School Reform Commission voted on March 7 to close 23 schools, reported the New York Times.

The same commission voted on June 1 to approve a $2.4 billion budget that will radically undercut the schools that stay open.

According to Philly.com, the budget cuts mean that "schools will open in the fall without new books, paper, clubs, counselors, librarians, assistant principals, or secretaries. Athletics, art, and music would be gone. There could be 3,000 layoffs, including some teachers. Class sizes would be larger, and schools would have no aides to help manage them or support staff to monitor lunchrooms and playgrounds."

The schools need $304 million, but that is unlikely because the Republican-controlled Pennsylvania House of Representatives passed a tax break in May for corporations. That tax break that will cost Pennsylvania $600 million to $800 million in taxes per year, notes the York Dispatch.

However, those educators who become unemployed by the cuts may be able to find jobs at the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections, which is going to spend an estimated $400 million for the buildings of State Correctional Institutions Phoenix I and II.

The new prison will hold 4,000 people, including male and female inmates, mentally ill people and death row inmates, reports the Philadelphia Inquirer.

Ironically, the new prison will also include a classroom.

Sources: Philadelphia InquirerYork DispatchPhilly.comNew York Times

This Principal Saved Her Failing School, And Now She Could Win $1 Million

You may remember Linda Cliatt-Wayman from her appearance in a May 2013 Diane Sawyer special about Strawberry Mansion High School in Philadelphia, which ABC dubbed "one of the most dangerous high schools in the U.S."

Cliatt-Wayman was the new principal at the time, and she hoped a combination of tough love and high standards would improve the school. Amid constant violence and even threats to her life, it was Cliatt-Wayman's responsiblity to save the struggling institution from closure.

"I could not find a principal who was suitable to handle this school," Cliatt-Wayman, who was previously assistant superintendent for Philadelphia Public Schools, said during the TV special. "Therefore, I said to myself, because I love these students ... I will just volunteer to be the principal." To read more http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/linda-cliatt-wayman-prize_566f0f42e4b0e292150eae66?ir=Education

School Offers Job To Cafeteria Worker It Fired For Feeding Needy Student

An Idaho school district has offered to rehire a cafeteria worker it fired last week, apparently for giving free food to a needy student. 

A swift backlash overwhelmed Pocatello/Chubbuck School District 25 after Dalene Bowden, a so-called lunch lady at Irving Middle School, revealed she'd been fired on Dec. 18, allegedly for giving a $1.70 hot lunch to a 12-year-old girl who couldn't afford it. Bowden said she offered to pay for the meal, but that her supervisor was still displeased.

She was placed on unpaid leave for two days. Then, a termination letter from the district's director of human resources arrived, which Bowden posted to Facebook. The letter accused Bowden of stealing school property and inaccurately recording transactions.  To read more http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/school-offers-job-to-lunch-lady-fired-for-feeding-needy-student_567c5ccae4b0b958f6595a8a?ir=Education

Reducing Youth Violence: The Violence-Free Zone

The Violence-Free Zone is the national model of a youth violence reduction and high-risk- student mentoring program created by the Center for Neighborhood Enterprise. Designed to operate in the most trouble-plagued schools in urban centers with high levels of crime and violence, the VFZ has produced measurable decreases in violent and non-violent incidents and suspensions in more than 30 schools across the country. The principles developed in the Violence-Free Zone model have also proved applicable to suburban and rural communities. To read more http://www.cneonline.org/reducing-youth-violence-the-violence-free-zone/

Little Pigs Help Single Mother Save Big

Jeannette Fabove, 53, is a single mother of seven and a member of the Common Initiative Group of Peasant Women in Kieneghang. Before Heifer, Jeannette and her children lived in her elder brother’s three-bedroom house. She was a subsistence crop farmer with poor farming practices and low farm inputs that resulted in low farm outputs. Read morehttp://www.heifer.org/join-the-conversation/blog/2015/July/little-pigs-helps-single-mother-save-big.html

Child Homelessness In New York City Hit An All-Time High. Here's How It Can Be Fixed

A record number of kids in New York City are homeless and they won’t see any relief until they get access to more affordable housing, a new report concluded.

According to the Coalition for the Homeless, 25,000 children in the Big Apple didn’t have a place to call home last year, and the situation has had a particularly dire effect on African American kids, the group said in a report released on Thursday. However, the group said the city could see “unprecedented” drops in child and family homelessness rates if it creates more reasonably priced housing options -- a cost-efficient system that has already proven to work.

Nearly one-third of adults in homeless families in New York City are employed, yet they are the fastest growing segment of the homeless population. The issue remains that low-cost housing is on the decline and their paychecks can’t cover market-rateapartments.  To read more  http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/03/23/child-homelessness-new-york-city_n_6924138.html?cps=gravity_2659_5291603009728990747

Putting a Face on Poverty

As a child from a broken home Domenic moved around a lot with his father in Philadelphia – but eventually their relationship fell apart and he ended up on the street.

“I found drugs in the suburbs more than the city, can you believe that?” he said. His eyes are humble for his thirty-seven years. He measures his words as he speaks about jail time and a handful of rehabilitation programs.

“My mother died while I was in jail,” Domenic said.  ( To Read More  http://www.bctv.org/putting-a-face-on-poverty/article_79613838-e8f4-11e4-b84b-3f7dd539f9a1.html  )

This is What Poverty Looks Like

 "Sitting in a rusty, sky blue GMC pickup on the side of Main
Street, Gavin* rested his arm through the rolled down window and took a
long drag on his Phillies cigarillo.

'This here’s a good truck,” he said, patting the side panel through the
window. “Had it for a long time now. Have to say, though, I do like Fords
better. Don’t use it for work, just use it to get here and there,
sometimes move stuff with it.” He took another drag of his cigarillo and
exhaled through his nose. “Work’s scarce around here.'

Gavin has lived in Beattyville, Kentucky his entire life, and at 74 years
old he’s the oldest of 14 siblings."   http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2015/03/11/3631479/beattyville-kentucky/

Mahatma Gandhi Biography

Mahatma Gandhi was a prominent Indian political leader who campaigned for Indian independence. He employed non-violent principles and peaceful disobedience. He was assassinated in 1948, shortly after achieving his life goal of Indian independence. In India, he is known as ‘Father of the Nation’.

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants, and murderers, and for a time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it–always.”

- Gandhi          http://www.biographyonline.net/politicians/indian/gandhi.html

Microcredit pioneers win Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO (AP) — Bangladeshi economist Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday for their pioneering use of tiny, seemingly insignificant LOANS— microcredit — to lift millions out of poverty.

Through Yunus's efforts and those of the bank he founded, poor people around the world, especially women, have been able to buy cows, a few chickens or the cellphone they desperately needed to get ahead.

The 65-year-old economist said he would use part of his share of the $1.4 million award money to create a company to make low-cost, high-nutrition food for the poor. The rest would go toward setting up an eye hospital for the poor in Bangladesh, he said.

ON DEADLINEBig credit to microcredit pioneers | Video

The food company, to be known as Social Business Enterprise, will sell food for a nominal price, he said.

"Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty,"    http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2006-10-13-norway-nobel_x.htm

Poverty in the United States: A Snapshot

Census figures released in September 2013 confirm that record-high numbers ofAmericans are living in poverty. The latest data reveal:

One out of seven people in the USA are living in poverty.

In 2012, 46.5 million people were living in poverty in the United States—the largest number in the 54 years the Census has measured poverty.

The poverty rate (the percentage of all people in the United States who were poor) also remained at high levels: 15% for all Americans and 21.8% for children under age 18.

http://www.nclej.org/poverty-in-the-us.php

7 things you can do Looking for ways you can help end child hunger in your own community? The handbook Beyond the Food Drive: Ending Hunger through Citizen Service has you covered.

 

7 ways you can help in your community from
Beyond the Food Drive:

  1. Contact elected officials about taking action
  2. Help eligible families obtain assistance
  3. Raise awareness of school breakfast programs
  4. Assist with summer meals programs
  5. Participate in a community garden
  6. Coordinate "Hunger" activities to educate and activate
  7. Use your professional skills to improve local programs

Get inspired and get involved!

For more info visit https://www.childhungerendshere.com/takingaction.html

My Unemployment: Black Rose

Your life’s value in this world is like tomorrow…it never ends…

I was unemployed at the end of September 2012 from my previous position. It came at a vulnerable time for me, and came fast. Because of the complexity of bureaucracy, I along with two of my co-workers lost our jobs. Immediately, I could not but help to think about my co-workers who had major obligations as well. I also thought about how my money helps those around me time to time. I guess I care more for those around me than myself, especially when it comes to a fruitless commodity like money.    http://thevoicesofpoverty.org/poverty-stories/story/my-unemployment-black-rose

Source: http://thevoicesofpoverty.org/poverty-stor...