Monday, July 14, 2014

288th Week Update - Miles Neighborhood One Can A Week Project

Hi Folks,
If the Poor Just Didn’t Act So Poor ... 

If the Rich Just Went Downtown More ... 

We’re really good at defining problems. Pablo Eisenberg, a senior fellow at the Center for Public and Nonprofit Leadership at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute wrote an article in The Huffington Post the other day. His contends that “Donors Who Lavish Money on Elite Institutions Only Exacerbate the Wealth Gap.”  

Of course they do and this is not said to belittle Mr. Eisenberg’s work in any way. For instance, Mr. Eisenberg writes, and I paraphrase here:

  1. Private money for public schools ends up in affluent neighborhoods.
  2. Elite colleges benefit for the same reason and their tuition is too high for the poor and middle classes.

  1. Art Institutions that cater to upper and middle classes are along for the money train ride, too.

  1. On the whole, foundations and donors only give minimally to nonprofits serving the poor and grassroots organizations.
And why do the wealthy do this? Are they mean? Do they hate the poor? Absolutely not. They are just terribly uncomfortable around folks who are different from themselves. I have seen this social phenomenon all my life. And so have you. In the high school cafeteria cliques sit together. I sat with all kinds of interesting kids. One friend at a new school I attended remarked that he was amazed at how I fit in so quickly. When in Germany during my Army days, I went into local restaurants alone. Most GI’s never even went downtown. If things aren’t different, that is when I feel the most uncomfortable.  

So how do we get rich folks to like, accept and help all kinds of poor folks? Mr. Eisenberg wasn’t optimistic at all as he closed his very informative article. He suggested we should not “hold our breaths expecting change.” My thinking is there is always a way. The British band Tears for Fears told us that “Everybody wants to rule the world” so if I had the chance I would do the following:

All bosses of large corporations will become an Undercover Boss periodically. Have you seen that TV show? The end is almost always the same. The boss gets overwhelmed by how smart, caring and committed his or her staff is. This should be a requirement every five years for major CEOs.

All nonprofits that care for the poor like the Community Food Bank of Southern Arizona should take donors and prospective donors downtown to celebrated community restaurants and dine with the locals. Everybody at the table tells stories about life and their loves even the guest donors. This will give those donors insights they won’t ever forget. And this should be a monthly event.

Donors and prospective donors could also sponsor kid’s soccer, baseball, tennis, swimming, basketball, etc. teams. And they are required to attend at least half of the games during the season simply to talk to the kids…again about their life and loves.

All of these activities for donors and prospective donors should be made very easy to attend but they have to be told that they will be socially uncomfortable until they become engaged with the interesting folks who surround them.

Since I really don’t want to rule the world, I am just going to change folks I meet one at a time. I know it’s working because look at how much food we get to donate to the Community Food Bank each week.  

Sprouts Farmers Market Update

Old Potato Record: 130 five pound bags.
New Potato Record: 133 five pound bags.

25th Truck Load - 2014

Just two weeks ago we set a potato bag record. This week we broke that record by three bags. Since there is no way of knowing how much money folks will donate weekly at the three Sprouts supermarkets beating an old record by even a little bit is a big thrill. On Wednesday while packing up a woman handed me $40. I had already purchased the Sprouts-Oracle potatoes for the week but that didn’t matter. I grabbed a cart and bought another 23 bags ending up with 60 bags instead of 37. That was kind of thrilling, too.

This week’s donations amounted to 993 lbs. and included Sprouts (Speedway), 379 lbs.; Sprouts (Oracle), 350 lbs.; Sprouts (River Road), 122 lbs; Shiva Vista, 44 lbs. and Miles Neighborhood 98 lbs.

Feeling Uncomfortable Again
Neighbors come and go. When that happens to a participant, I always try to meet the new neighbor as soon as possible so donations stay consistent. A home on Cherry Street had a new neighbor but after trying to catch someone home on a number of Sundays I gave up trying.

This past Sunday I saw another car at the home and thought about making a call. “Nah,” I thought, “how many times do I have to try before giving up?” That’s when the uncomfortable feeling showed up. It strongly suggested I force myself to go make the call.

Shortly after I knocked, a gentleman named Tavi (ta ve) answered the door and within a minute or two he said he would be happy to participate. In the article above I talked about how rich and poor folks seldom leave their comfort zones creating both a wealth and a human connection gap. When I get uncomfortable I know making a connection is the antidote which kicks in just as soon as I say “Hi.”

We collected a total of 98 lbs. of food. The money we donated amounted to $30.00, a $25.00 check and $5.00 in cash.

See you Sunday,


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