23. Oktober 2005

Diskussionen, Diskussionen

Mitten in die Diskussion um Gott und die mexikanische Welt, die ich mit Marcella beim späten Frühstück im Mozart's hatte, kam die Frage nach dem richtigen Halloween-Kostüm. Die Amerikaner nehmen das ziemlich ernst und jede Menge Leute verkleiden sich. Es ist allerdings nicht so, daß es gruselig sein muß, es ist eher wie Karneval. Also habe ich mich mal nach typischen Kostümen umgesehen und bin dann auf die Kombinationen "Backwood Barkley" und "Trailer Park King" gestoßen, die der amerikanischen Kultur huldigen, aber dennoch gruselig sind. Die Frage ist: wird man das Outfit als Verkleidung erkennen?
Vielleicht sollte ich meinen Wurzeln treu bleiben und als pessimistischer Konservativer gehen. Ich mache mich jetzt auf die Suche nach einem puritanischen Gründerväter-Kostüm, das scheint mir das angemessenste und eine gute Verbindung der alten mit der neuen Welt. Das Modell "Sexy Nurse" war leider schon ausverkauft...

Und dann hatte ich noch eine nette Diskussion mit einer Grundschullehrerin, die gerade einen Kurs mit Namen "The hidden rules of poverty" hatte. Das war sehr interessant und ich hatte mir bisher darüber keine Gedanken gemacht, daß es natürlich genau wie in der Mittelschicht auch unter den Armen unausgsprochene Regeln gibt. Und wenn man die nicht kennt, dann gehört man eben nicht dazu - oder interpretiert das Verhalten des Gegenübers falsch.

1 Kommentare:

Anonymous Anonym sagte...

Hölle - was für ein langer Diskussionsbeitrag. Das Frühstück war dann ja wohl ein bischen länger, wie?

When Hurricane Katrina blew in it washed away more than homes, neighborhoods, and livelihoods. It also washed away the illusion of a classless society and left standing the stark fact that poverty continues to be a reality for more and more U.S. citizens; in fact, the numbers have grown for the fourth straight year. And, it exposed the ineffective ways we create and implement policies on poverty. For example, Katrina exposed the obvious fact that poor people were not at the table when the disaster plans were being developed. Had they been there, they would have been evacuated. The lesson to be learned here is that we need the involvement of problem solvers from all economic classes at the table when working on community problems. Each class has something to offer.

People in poverty are problem solvers who use sensory, concrete, and reactive skills to survive in an unstable, vulnerable environment. They are forced by their environment to live in the moment, but they are the experts on their own neighborhoods and use relationships to pull together the resources to get by. They can be very creative and ready to think imaginatively. People in middle class, whose lives are more stable, use proactive skills, look to the future, and are skilled at planning and organizing. Schools, businesses, and government are run on middle-class rules and by middle-class people. People in wealth, whose environment is the most stable, are positioned to see the big picture, are problem solvers on a larger scale, and have ready access to the legislative process. They can influence change and set direction most effectively.

If we’re going to survive hurricanes, create economic prosperity for everyone, and build sustainable communities, we must learn to understand each other. People from all classes must learn about our differing economic environments, then learn the hidden rules of class that arise from those environments. (Hidden rules are those subtle cues and habits of a group that let us know we belong or not—the rules that help us successfully navigate social and business situations.) In so doing we can bring a broad understanding and mutual respect to the table.

Hurricane Katrina serves as a metaphor for all people in poverty in the United States. People in poverty weren’t at the table there, and they aren’t at the table in other cities and towns. To rebuild the Gulf Coast and to rebuild communities where everyone can do well we need an accurate understanding of poverty, a new definition of poverty and prosperity, and new principles for change.

Dr. Ruby K. Payne, president of aha! Process, a publishing and training company based in Highlands, Texas, identifies nine resources that define the quality of a person’s life.

Sufficient financial resources meet basic needs, stabilize the day-to-day living experience, and allow people to focus on the future.

High emotional resources make it possible to have positive relationships with our families, co-workers, and neighbors even in difficult times.

High mental resources allow one to read, write, compute, perform skilled trades, pursue higher education, and have knowledge-sector jobs.

Ability to use the formal-language register of work and school supports success in those settings.

The better one’s health—physical resource—the more opportunities are open to the individual.

The more bridging social capital and the stronger one’s social support systems, private and public, the better the world can be negotiated.

Those who have many positive relationships and role models find it easier to cope with the trials of life.

Highly motivated people who have spiritual resources build positive momentum in their lives. Such values as integrity and trustworthiness bring with them their own rewards.

Finally, it’s very helpful to have knowledge of the hidden rules of the different groups encountered along the way.

Poverty, according to Dr. Payne in her book A Framework for Understanding Poverty, is the extent to which a person does without these resources and, conversely, prosperity is the extent to which a person has these resources. The higher one’s resources, the better the quality of that person’s life tends to be. Taken as a set, these resources have some key features. First, they are interlocking. A serious illness, death of a breadwinner, a car crash, or a hurricane can reduce physical, mental, and social resources virtually overnight. A personal or community disaster can drag emotional resources down with it. We use our resources on a daily basis as we go to work, deal with customers and co-workers, think through and solve problems. We develop our resources over time by going to school, exercising, reading, joining groups, and saving money.

Our resources come from our community, our families, and ourselves. Communities with sufficient financial and social capital offer families a place to raise children where they can have relationships with many caring adults. The more opportunities communities offer families, the more those families can help their children to explore life, build skills, enjoy education, and pursue their own dreams. Those children will grow up to contribute to their communities in positive ways, thus completing the circle of resource development. For people to make the transition out of poverty, they must hold themselves to, and be held to, societal expectations just as the middle class and wealthy are. One of those expectations is to be a community problem solver. If people in poverty are to take responsibility—and if society wants them to take responsibility—then, of course, they need to be present and involved when decisions are being made. Three things must happen: First, the individual, family, and community must stabilize the circle of life, the day-to-day environment in which people in poverty live. Second, the individual, family, and community must build resources. And third, all three classes must be at the table.

Understanding the causes of poverty
It’s important for all of us to understand the causes of poverty. Without that, our policies swing back and forth with the political winds. We need a comprehensive set of strategies that cover all the causes of poverty. Poverty research can be organized into four clusters:

The behaviors of the individual—draws a correlation between poverty and single parenthood, broken families, addiction, language experience, and the lack of a work ethic (to name but a few).

Human and social capital in the community—draws a correlation between poverty and the quality of schools, job opportunities, wages, middle-class flight, social connectedness, and social coherence.

The exploitation of people in poverty—draws a correlation between poverty and unfair hiring practices, drug trafficking, and the many forms of predatory lending.

Political/economic structures—draws a correlation between poverty and deindustrialization, economic disparity, the decline of the middle class, and corporate influence on legislators.

While poverty is caused by these four factors, most anti-poverty efforts are focused on the first two. Community organizations focus on changing the thinking and behaviors of the individuals in poverty. Local, state, and federal officials focus on the quality and effectiveness of education, social services, corrections, and health care. The last two clusters receive much less attention. In order to be effective, we need to deal with all four areas of research equally. If all causes of poverty aren’t addressed and we continue to focus our energy on individual behavior and community systems, we’ll simply be repeating strategies that haven’t worked.

The following strategies are offered to individuals, communities, and legislators as part of the discourse that must take place if we are to develop sustainable communities where everyone can live well.

Behaviors of the individual. Policies will encourage individuals in poverty and make it possible to:

Examine their own lives, assess their situations, learn new information about economic realities, and make their own plans about which resources to build.

Prepare themselves to be at the table with others to solve community problems by learning the hidden rules of class.

Victims of Katrina have the opportunity to develop a new future story for themselves and their community. If they don’t get to the table to make sure people in poverty are heard, the disaster will simply extend to another level.

Human and social capital in the community. Policies will encourage organizations to make it possible to:

Assist people in poverty to stabilize their environment: home ownership, affordable rental units, basic transportation services, ready access to health care and child care, well-paying jobs, etc.

Assist people in poverty to engage in a self-discovery process regarding poverty issues, economic realities, and the hidden rules of class.

Assist people who are making the transition out of poverty. Current policies withdraw support (cash assistance, child-care services, health care, and food stamps) just when people in transition need it the most.

Assist people to build resources according to their own plans.

Assist community organizations to learn about the environment and hidden rules of other economic groups so they can improve front-line staff skills and design programs based on the mind-sets of the consumers.

Assist community organizations to design accountability systems that foster learning rather than strategies based on demands and sanctions.

Assist people in poverty to come to the table as problem solvers and as equals.

Gulf Coast communities have an opportunity right now to include people from all classes in the development of the community’s future story. People from poverty are particularly vulnerable now because they are focused on meeting daily needs and don’t have enough resources and stability to be able to look to the future. Communities must act on their behalf to help them get to the table.

Exploitation. Policies will encourage and make it possible for community leaders to:

Educate the community about predatory practices.

Assist community organizations to replace “services” provided by predators.

In the aftermath of disasters people are particularly vulnerable to those who would exploit them. A community must be alert to the threat and take action to protect all of its members.

Political/economic structures. Policies will encourage and make it possible for corporations, businesses, social services, health-care providers, and community leaders to:

Assist communities to bring all classes to the table to design their future stories.

Examine economic issues, poverty, prosperity, and sustainability through the prism of economic class.

Assist communities to stabilize the environment for people in poverty.

Assist communities to build resources for families.

Assist workers to earn self-sufficiency wages.

Assist communities to provide affordable housing, health care, and child care.

Assist communities with educational opportunities that will satisfy the demand for intellectual capital in the future.

Assist communities to provide businesses with workers with the skills sets necessary to compete in the global market.

Finally, communities must have a way to define, monitor, evaluate, and report on the quality of life. This tool, sometimes called the Social Health Index, includes the following items: infant mortality, child abuse, child poverty, youth suicide, teenage drug use, high school dropouts, teenage births, unemployment, wages, health-care coverage, age 65-plus poverty, life expectancy, violent crime, alcohol-related fatalities, affordable housing, and inequities in family income. The Social Health Index must be given equal status with leading economic indicators and attended to in exactly the same way, with the same transparency, frequency, public exposure, and value. Economic indicators alone do not give an accurate picture of the community’s condition.

The Katrina disaster will be complete if we don’t use the lessons we learn from it to make changes in the way we build individual, family, and community resources. Bringing together people from all classes to solve problems will be difficult and challenging, but it holds this promise: It will be a transforming experience for everyone who participates.

Wie wär es denn, Du rollst Dich im Stinktier und gehst als Snatchet?




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