Opinion

The Poor Cannot Eat My Words, and Why I Write

By | Jul 21, 2010

I write about poverty a lot. I think information and knowledge exchange in the social sector is important. It helps us learn from one another and ultimately enables us to provide more effective social interventions, lifting more families out of poverty.

I believe in the need for more dialogue on poverty and homelessness so much that I edit this blog, and write about social sector issues on a few others as well. But with all this writing, what actually gets done? Ending homelessness requires action, not just thoughts. And while all this writing might inspire some critical thinking in our sector, the hungry cannot eat my words.

We Are Not Journalists

In the era of push-button publishing, some have questioned the need for journalists.  Why, some ask, would we need professional journalists when citizen journalists can work for a fraction of the cost, or even free?

I for one do not subscribe to this line of thinking. Journalism is a complicated profession. Objective, in-depth reporting is something any democracy desperately needs. In all my blogging and editing I am careful not to confuse myself, or any of this site’s contributors, for journalists.

Here on Poverty Insights, we invite people to write about issues they not only have intimate knowledge of, but are actively involved in. For example Poverty Insights publisher Joel John Roberts is not just a blogger, he is the Executive Director of a nationally respected homeless services organization, and regular contributor Nick Schuller is first and foremost a manager of a low-income tutoring non-profit.

These writers are not journalists, they are individual actors who collectively make up the social safety net. The social sector, comprised of direct service providing organizations like homeless shelters and food pantries, policy makers, educators, and a myriad of other specialists who collectively meet the holistic needs of hurting low-income families, needs to learn from its mistakes and successes in order to progress as a whole.

Poverty Insights

The vision for Poverty Insights is to provide a place for people who are engaged in the daily work of addressing American poverty to share their ideas, successes, and failures. It is a forum for those actively involved in our sector as service providers, executives, donors, or recipients, to contribute to a stronger social system that helps all people achieve their human potential.

In short, this site is yours. I write here to share my thoughts with you. As the editor of this site, and a part of this social safety net, I invite you to share your ideas here too, either as a commenter on our posts or a guest blogger on our site. Our sector is one that is starved for ideas and knowledge exchange. As a sector of good intentions, our conversations run the risk of erring on the side of self-righteousness rather than social progress.

Blogging will not save the world. Our words will not do the work of housing the homeless or enrolling all eligible persons in food stamps. But our ideas can lead to more effective collaborations, more intelligent ways of financing the social sector, and better tutoring for low-income kids. Blogging is a powerful platform only in so far as we utilize it to share information and debate ideas, rather than simply espouse our sympathies. The poor need more than our rhetoric, they deserve the most robust social safety net we can offer. In order to build the social supports hurting families deserve, we need to engage one another to ensure that the best ideas rise to the top and become part of our daily social interventions.

Photo credit: Cayusa