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Meeting Agenda – September 4, 2014, 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Location: CFO, 425 E. Trafficway
I. Welcome – Greg Burris & Gail Smart
II. Poverty Simulation Outreach by Sector: Update
- Proposed goal: 25 simulations by July 1, 2015
III. Presentation: Economic Outlook
- Rob Dixon – Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
IV. Questions and Discussion
V. Update on Impacting Poverty Collaborative
- Mark Struckhoff and Trent Sims
VI. Questions and Discussion
- Greg Burris, Springfield City Manager
- Gail Smart, City Center Christian Outreach
- Scott Brady, CPO Board of Directors
- Sherry Coker, Ozarks Technical Community College
- Rob Dixon, Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce
- Ashley French, Junior League of Springfield
- Rob Fulp, Springfield First Community Bank
- Brendan Griesemer, City of Springfield
- John Horton, Rotary Clubs of Springfield
- David Jayne, Central Assembly of God
- Traci Louvier, Tuthill Vacuum & Blower System
- Christian Mechlin, Springfield Public Schools
- Rob Nelson, Marlin Company
- Carl Rosenkranz, OACAC
- Cora Scott, City of Springfield
- Winter Skelton, CFO
- Larry Spilker, Buckhorn, Inc.
- Dr. Mike Stout, Missouri State University
- Mark Struckhoff, Council of Churches
- Maura Taylor, Health Commission
- Jaimie Trussell, Jaimie
- Scott Brady, KY3 News Director
- Louise Knauer, Senior VP, CFO
- Will Carter, CPO
- Bart Brown, Executive Director, OFH
- Claudette Riley, Springfield News-Leader
- Christian Mechlin, Robberson Community School
- Cora Scott, Moderator
Chair Greg Burris welcomed everyone to the meeting and thanked them for attending.
Co-Chair Gail Smart asked if there were any reports regarding pending poverty simulations. Carl Rosenkranz gave an update on simulations currently scheduled: August 25th, MSU School of Nursing; September 5th, OTC Academic Advisors; September 16th, MSU Education Department; September 22nd, Junior League of Springfield along with groups they have invited; October 29th, Cox Insurance Exchange Certified Application Counselor; and February 13, 2015, SPS teachers. His staff can handle three to four each month.
Rob Dixon said, thru personal outreach, that several employers were interested in participating but logistical issues in scheduling their employees for training, especially small businesses, were making them hesitant about committing at this point.
For the Health Care Simulation, Greg reported that both Mercy and Cox Health have expressed their interest and have offered to help in the planning of a simulation for their employees. Each has committed three staff members to help with the brainstorming. A meeting will be hosted consisting of representatives from the Health Commission, Jordan Valley, and the Springfield-Greene County Health Department, along with the hospitals’ staff members.
John Horton is talking with the various Rotary Clubs in Springfield, some of which have expressed interest in attending and are giving it consideration.
Cora Scott introduced the members of the panel; Louise Knauer, Senior Vice Present, Community Foundation of the Ozarks; Scott Brady, a member of the Commission and News Director for KY3; Bart Brown, Executive Director, Ozarks Food Harvest; Claudette Riley, Springfield News-Leader reporter; Christian Mechlin, Robberson Community School; and Will Carter, Director of Communication, Community Partnership of the Ozarks. The panel came together to discuss community awareness of the poverty in our midst, and how best to communicate to the community at large once the Commission develops a plan of action.
Discussion: There seems to be two classic characterizations about poverty at either end of the spectrum: People who are living in poverty because they are lazy; or the system keeps people in poverty because there are too many obstacles to overcome. How do you think our community breaks down in terms of these perceptions?
Both perceptions are widespread in the community; one assigns blame to the person in poverty, the other assigns blame to the system. People have sympathy if they have a personal relationship with an individual and/or families in poverty but not with people they do not know. There is a perception that people who are on food stamps (SNAP) are lazy. Have some of the facts ready to back up your position; SNAP brings about $180M a year to the local economy with a program fraud rate of less than 1%. The question is how to identify and educate the people in the community and raise their awareness as to how poverty negatively affects our local economy.
Discussion: Various surveys seem to show that the majority of Americans support assistance programs, but only for those who “deserve” the assistance. What do you think constitutes “deserving” in the minds of our community? And do children ever see themselves as not deserving?
Most surveys show that people strongly feel that children are deserving of assistance programs, but adults do not get the same support. Somehow that belief or feeling has to be replaced, because if the parents remain in poverty, helping the children is a bandaid. Christian Mechlin, Robberson Community School Resource Staff, says that children do not think of it in terms of “deserving” but more of “need.” And most children don’t feel that need because it has been a way of life with them; moving frequently, getting by day-to-day, etc.
Discussion: What role does the media play in helping shaping our perceptions of the under-resourced in our community specifically?
Scott Brady and Claudette Riley offered their insights. The media in Springfield has done an excellent job, specifically with the human interest articles that led to the creation of Every Child Promise. The realistic portrayal of what living in poverty is really like has put the Commission in a good position to continue keeping that focus in the community and the issue in the limelight.
The role of the media should be to report what is being done in the community, to relate facts, not editorialize, and for the most part, Springfield media has remained true to journalism in its intended form. Point of View (POV) programming consistently gives one side of the issue when, in fact, there may be many sides to the same issue. POV programming reports little on what poverty means to middle class families and an entire community, at worst over-simplifying facts, allowing its audience reinforcement of opinions already held. Responsible journalism provides a picture that is true to life, real, and honest.
Discussion: What are the biggest misperceptions about poverty in the Ozarks?
Survey statistics mirror the racial demographic composition in Springfield; that it is isolated to the north side.
There is another side to this problem. The under-resourced population frequently has misconceptions about the remainder of the population, keeping us out of their homes and communities. Breaking down those barriers will need to be addressed in an action plan.
Discussion: If this Commission could do only one thing to increase awareness that leads to action, what should that be?
Research ideas and solutions that have worked, or are working, in other communities and introduce them to this community. Share stories about how a person or family can break the barriers of poverty. Determine where folks in poverty are getting their information. Is it from newspapers, from TV and/or radio newscasts, from the internet, or other sources? Many have access to the internet through their cell phones, which leads the other side questioning whether that is a proper place to spend their limited resources. That could be a misconception on our part because it may be the least expensive source of information available to them. The most viewed page on Community Partnership’s website is the homeless resource guide.
Consider a messaging strategy to gain the attention of the middle and upper income classes. Arguing facts and using logic usually lead nowhere; appeal to emotions. Use Springfield’s large faith-based population as a conduit, reminding them of a basic premise of most faiths – compassion. Take a page from the Every Child Promise series and show the faces of poverty.
Another messaging strategy could echo the Chamber of Commerce’s promotion for its Diversity Campaign. This message emphasized how lack of diversity affects our local economy by making it difficult to attract companies and talented professionals to the City. Then translate that from economic issues to “this is the right thing to do”, convincing the people who influence these decisions to get past their gut level perceptions into doing the right thing for the right reason.
Discussion: How do you think background, religion, and political ideology form the way people feel about poverty?
All three influence the way most people feel about those in poverty. Poverty, race, and class are used by politicians as wedges to separate people, rendering a political system of division rather than unity. People are now segregated by social class, with homogenized neighborhoods that make it difficult to relate to people unlike themselves. Will Carter recommended volunteering at the Hope Connection and walk with a homeless person or homeless family, talk with them, listen to them, and begin to get an idea of how difficult their lives really are.
The large faith-based population can be used as a foundation from which to build, reminding them that remembering the poor is a moral obligation.
Discussion: Is it going to be more difficult for the Commission to do its job now than it would have been 20 years ago?
As was mentioned in the previous discussion, neighborhoods are more homogenized now than in the past; therefore, people are acquainted with people like themselves, seldom leaving their neighborhoods, and seldom associating with people different from themselves.
Greg posed one last question: There are many cities trying to impact poverty. Is our community unique enough that something special could happen?
Both Mike Stout and Will Carter gave an unqualified yes. Will has lived in several cities, but Springfield gets positive outcomes with programs. Mike said the level of collaboration of community leaders in Springfield is a huge asset. With the City’s culture of collaboration among the citizens, the light would switch on.
Bart Brown cautioned the group to realize its limitations and work to overcome the culture of racism and resistance to change, and to remember that these changes will require a certain amount of funding. He reminded them that citizens in this area are not as philanthropic as are populations of other cities.
Cora recapped the discussion by enumerating certain words that came to the forefront consistently: Volunteer; engage; jump in; show, don’t tell; practice compassion; love, and empathy; reject the politics of division and embrace the politics of unity; individual moments; one-on-one; get the whole picture; individual moments; moment of clarity; side-by-side; and do one thing. She thanked the panel and the Commission member for their participation their time.
Greg thanked everyone for coming and reminded them the next meeting will be held September 4th at CFO.