Oct 17 is Int Day for the Eradication of Poverty

This Wed Oct 17 is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It is a day marked around the world as THE ONE to speak out for those marginalized by poverty. It was started by Joseph Wrtezinski, a man of religion in Paris France, who had grown up in abject poverty. Millions worldwide now gather on this day.

2012 to be held at Newmarket's Riverwalk Commons stage
In York Region, or Newmarket rather, we hold an annual event which includes information on world and localized poverty and affords opportunities for aspiring people to speak out via various means such as performance artists who play original or otherwise related pieces...A Beatles love song may fit the bill, whatever the song or performance means to someone could also be explained prior to the singing of a song. Although original material is preferred. For example, if someone knew of someone marginalized and a particular song was a favourite of or its lyrics reminded them then explain that and why and a little about that person or situation beforehand.

The day's events are kicked off at 2pm with the reading of the pledge against poverty and some opening words from PACC Chair Tom Pearson. The mic / stage is then open for anyone wishing to speak. Ambient performers /drummers permitted.Indoors will be lined with information booths, tables/seating, and include ambient music with DJ / Open stage Host Funnyman Dan Philion. Indoor and outdoor areas available until 8PM.

4pm - Free Hot food and nourishment is usually part of the equation as well to entice people to come out in the usually cold weather and this year the lords prayer will be read into play as well to commemorate the service churches give to aid those in poverty. Fresh hot soup, bread, maybe some fruit bars with coffee and away we go. At least this year we have a nearby indoor facility as well to keep everyone warm need be. And bathrooms for that matter, as each year the former location at Fairy Lake would seemingly close down just before Oct 17. Lets just say that was a deal breaker for some. Ha.
Open Mic - 2-6:30 pm - Main Stage performers 6:30

The local event in 2012 is being held at Newmarket's Riverwalk Commons and as well inside the Newmarket Community Centre's Lions Club Hall and will feature a gaggle of information tables such as Make Poverty History, aboriginal crafts, presentation by Options for Homes CEO Mike Labbe at 3pm, Freedom 95 a group of senior food bank volunteers pushing for an end to food-banks,  Legal Clinic of York Region, Housing Help Center including the distribution of free (Talk2one messaging) phone #'s and ID clinic, Y.R. Food Network, PACC, some projected media, live Performance Artists and most of all an open mic on the main stage for anyone wishing to communicate via whatever their art - be it spoken word or miming or improvisation or what have you. Indoor opportunities as well for performers.

4:30pm Tribute to Youth - Quest for Youth show producer Luther Mansraj..also youth singers including!

5:00pm Outdoors - Open Stage continues main stage - open mic / jam musicians included / booths indoors / hot food & drink continues

6pm - Videos - Indoors

6:30pm - Main Stage Performers to 7:30 or 8pm.

Includes - Author / Poet David L Rogers (The Dark Road), more youthful singers, Schtik Jagger, Hip Hop Artist Test of Test Logik, Singer guitar sensations Lucky Jackson from England, Joe from The DanglesFred Joly, Aboriginal Drumming by Kim, Street sensation Singer/guitar/picker Daniel, & Select previous Open Stage Performers!

Put Food in The Budget campaign - on track again

Mcguinty Mannequin cross Ontario tour in Aurora
Recently I traveled to Toronto in anticipation of the screening of the Put Food in the Budget campaign's "Premier Mcguinty mannequin tour". The campaign, of which I'd been an attending and participating member of, is a cross Ontario group lead by educated and experienced leaders and involving those with lived low income experience. The thing I'd liked about the group, besides the fact the ideas we
came up with were usually well executed, was that they included those with experience and actually used their input - unlike other groups or forums or participation events I've been to where they go through the motions but never actually use participants' viewpoints or input, just the appearances of doing so. Something like the Ontario government did with its poverty reduction strategy hearings. I call it pandering. Then they use those who they are purported to be helping as their mouthpieces to attract attention and / or to show worthiness for continued funding from associated groups - like charities do to vulnerable people when they get them to do their bidding through 'testimonials' after which they get rewarded usually.

Eyes on Toronto

Programs and ideas are best generated from the community on out, and particularly when dealing with a community barely surviving. They will know barriers for people as they themselves have often experienced it or know someone who has. That's why their input is THE MOST critical part of any plan and is exactly why the Put Food in the Budget campaign completely missed the mark by producing a movie that excluded using excerpts from all the communiteis who submitted video footage. They used people to further their cause( and name) by doing the bidding in communities to promote the mannequin campaign and went around with "him" introducing him to community members and taping interactions with "him". In our case we gave video footage of everything from Mcguinty visiting a community dinner to seniors telling him off, to a kid with mental health issues speaking off camera with the mannequin "listening" to a community movie. We even had footgage of him helping at a foodbank as well as bike riding all of which could have been played with music layed underneath but nothing.
PFIB campaign fights for more social assistance from the Ontario budget

" Mike," I'd said to the movements director Balkwill, " This is embarrassing. You're supposed to be about inclusiveness, surely you could have and should have included at least 5 or 10 seconds from everyone!". I wasn't the only one, some had traveled from as far as Thunderbay to see no northern inclusion. Very disappointing. Mike was understanding and said he'd bring it to the "committee" and that some technical issues had been involved.

"Committee?" I thought I was going to be part of the editing process? Did this committee have anyone of experience on it? Because if they had, this never would have happened." In addition I have produced and hosted a number of shows for TV and some film work too, as well as went to school for tv and film production so figured my professional experience could be utilized too. Guess not. I left without watching it and disillusioned.Was I being bamboozled again by another pandering do-gooder outfit that really didn't care about the "cause"?
"Do The Math" one of the actions we helped PFIB campaign implement

For 4 years I chaired a program (and helped start) called Operation Sparrow  It is likely the most user friendly and dignified model of programs distribution out there having now distributed 10's of thousands of dollars worth of karate, theatre school, art and other activities alongside "regular" kids with no special labels or "programs".

It was so successfully set up BECAUSE it contained some members of the COMMITTEE with lived experience, and they had to be listened too as I was chair. It runs today with its constitution firmly in place and hundreds of kids take part annually. Recently access to skates became part of it, allowing kids to skate and maybe play hockey.

To the credit of the Put Food in The Budget Campaign - they are going to revise the advocacy video to include York Region and some other suggested changes.  Also a time factor had come into play and they needed to have something to show that day.  They've always been a good group in the past and we have open discussions where they actually seek out input from those coming from lived experience and seemingly use it.

Let this be a lesson learned - to err is human - once per.

Help spread the word on Oct 17, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty