As I think back on Atlanta, I keep going back to experiences I've had in and out of the classroom the last few years. Atlanta connected several things that I had kinda kept separate.
The first was human trafficking. We gave out sandwiches on the block with the highest ratio of human trafficking in the southeast. At Lincoln's Cottage, they had a exhibit on human trafficking. The video in the exhibit featured a young lady from Wichita. An organization named Slavery Footprint helps shine a light on the how what we consume is connected to trafficking.
I wrote about it in a post a couple years ago. Wrote about it here, too.
Another was hunger. The sandwich, fruit, chips, cookie and drink we offered were the only meal many of those people in Atlanta would have that day. What floored me was most of them wanted to talk with us and pray with us more than the food. That is a community hungry for compassion and connection. That made me think about something we did in 7th grade World History a couple years ago. We did a hunger banquet and watched a movie about food waste called Dive!
I wrote a post about it here.
What is interesting is that this year, the seventh grade team is hoping to initiate a food waste program with the students this coming school year. We are using the movie as a jumping off point. Atlanta made food waste real for me in a way it hadn't. US grocers throw away almost half of their fresh produce and meat every day. It isn't rotten, just past the 'shelf life.' That food could be used in a better manner. I met people last week who could use that food.
The last idea it has been connecting me to is this idea of poverty and being 'bottom stuck'. This idea comes from a documentary, Traces of the Trade, about the Northern profits from the slave trade and reparations. An economist talks about the bottom stuck as those who will never benefit in the same way from the advances other African Americans have been able to make. They are in a cycle of poverty that started with slavery, continued under Jim Crow and continues today. The thing about pulling yourself up by your boots straps--its requires you to have boots in the first place. We can rant about a welfare state, and I'm still Madisonian in my love of limited government, but there are people who need our help. I met some of them last week. They became real to me. How becomes the real question.
As I said, these are things I'm thinking on...still trying to figure out next steps.
Will keep you posted. dm