Today, I went to the Circles Campaign meeting. This was put on by Move the Mountain and aha! Process, Inc. The representation from our community (county) was diverse and was attended by various community leaders, agencies and churches. I believe that we as a county will act upon this measure and begin the process of implementing Circles in our county.
To do this, we will have to make numerous changes in our structure and agencies but I am hopeful that this can be done. One of the things that Circles is dependent on though is for individuals to step up and say, "I want to break the cycle of poverty and I want to get out". The concept of Circles (in theory) is simple. The individual in poverty has a team that "emotionally adopts" them. The team then helps them come out of the grips of poverty. The team consists of allies (people there to love, encourage, and support them), coach (professional: service worker), peer (individual in the same boat: giving back & helping) and finally ad-hoc allies (individuals to assist: servants). This team does life together. The team is driven by the circle leader (individual in poverty). The cast (team) is put into place by Circles. However, this puts the responsibility at the feet of those in poverty.
Highlights That Stood Out
1. Circles intentionally builds relationships across class and race lines to end poverty.
2. Research shows that it takes social capital and education to bring individuals out of poverty ( I Love the Concept of "social capital". )
3. For individuals to move out of poverty; it takes more than just the individual. It takes the community, agencies and policy changes (good examples were given).
4. Our goal has been wrong ! Our goal has been to get people off (out) the welfare system. The goal should be to end (get them out of) poverty.
5. Community mindset MUST CHANGE. It needs to shift from: some poverty is normal and tolerate to the following: no poverty is tolerable or necessary.
6. Our agencies must change. We must move from: We will deliver services to you on behalf of the community to the following: We will help you build community around your family and neighborhood so you can reach your dreams.
In a blog post, it may be difficult how we as a community or a county can/will achieve this. But, i am hopeful and am going to look into a few of the cities in the U.S. who have implemented this and are showing success.
This was the first time that I have been in a meeting or a conversation where I could say, 'YES, ENDING POVERTY IS A POSSIBILITY'. It will be hard work, but I think we can get it done.