Regional Forums hosted by the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies on Behalf of the Ohio Anti-Poverty Task Force
On February 12, 2009, Washington-Morgan Community Action, in partnership with the Ohio Association of Community Action Agencies and on behalf of Governor Strickland’s Anti-Poverty Task Force, hosted a “Conversation on Poverty”. The primary objective of the “conversation” was to ensure that the Administration had access to a diverse set of perspectives, expertise and ideas. In addition, the “conversation” assisted in the goal of developing strategic recommendations for the Administration to consider aimed at reducing the percentage of Ohioans living at or below 200% of the federal poverty level.
“The conversations greatly benefitted the community’s low income population by providing a forum for advocates, low income individuals, government agencies, non-profit agencies, practitioners, and other stakeholders to share ideas on how to reduce poverty”, said David Brightbill, executive director of Washington-Morgan Community Action.
There were 22 conversations held throughout the state of Ohio. The Governor specifically requested that one be held in Marietta.
The World Café Model was used to conduct the “Conversation”. The World Café is an innovative yet simple methodology for hosting conversations about questions that matter. These conversations link and build on each other as people move between groups, cross pollinating ideas and discovering new insights into questions or issues that are important.
There were over 80 people in attendance, with 75 low income individuals and families. The people in attendance were eager to participate and voice their ideas about how to help those living in poverty.
About the Ohio Anti-Task Force
On May 28, 2008, Governor Ted Strickland signed an executive order creating the Anti-Poverty Task Force to develop recommendations aimed at assisting the 3.4 million Ohioans living at or below 200 percent of the federal poverty level. The Ohio Anti-Poverty Task Force will focus on providing practical and pragmatic short and long term strategic recommendations on reducing poverty in Ohio. On September 9, 2008, the task force delivered the shorter recommendations. The long-term recommendations will be delivered to the Governor on or before April 30, 2009 and include a list of suggested strategies for the state as it develops multi-year initiatives on reducing poverty.
The “Conversation on Poverty” from the perspective
of Marietta College Student, Laura Finck
As I entered the O’ Neill Senior Center to attend the “Conversation on Poverty” I was not really sure what to expect. All I knew was that this event was being prepared by Washington-Morgan Community Action in order to discuss the issue of poverty in the two areas this organization serves. I was surprised by the number of people who attended the occasion. I really only expected to see somewhere around thirty to forty people. I was very impressed by the turn out because it showed that people realize there is a problem and they are taking steps to be part of the solution.
As a person who is not native to the Appalachian area, it was really interesting for me to listen to some of the problems which were addressed at the “Conversation on Poverty”. It was also eye opening as a college student. Some of the issues I probably would have been able to guess existed, such as the need to create jobs, but some of them I would not have thought about, such as the need for more public transportation. I was also impressed with some of the creative suggestions, such as providing a hotline for people who are having financial difficulties so they know what their next step should be.
I thought it was great that the Ohio government was asking for feedback from the area. Who knows the issues and problems in an area better than the people who live there?
There were a two officials from the Ohio Secretary of State’s office at the “Conversation on Poverty” to witness what happened at the meeting.
Working together, the officials and the people of the area can create a community without poverty.
Washington-Morgan Community Action Washington and Morgan Counties, Ohio
218 Putnam Street, Marietta, OH 45750 (740) 373-3745
50 W. Third Street, PO Box 398, Malta, OH 43758 (740) 962-3827