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The Brookings Institution is holding a roundtable this weekend in Aspen Colorado.  The focus: Global Poverty.  While I am wholeheartedly in agreement that this is a topic that the Brookings Institute should invite business and world leaders to discuss, I am more skeptical of the venue...

Really? Aspen, CO?

Is it easier to discuss poverty while sitting in a place where even middle class people cannot afford to live?

Is it easier to discuss homelessness and its effects on children in a place where this is what constitutes inexpensive housing?

Maybe the organizers wanted the attendees to be able to relax and have a good time in-between all the very hard, depressing work of discussing poverty... the agenda leaves lots of open time to explore Aspen and all of its amenities:

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Personally, I think that folks meeting to talk about poverty might benefit from spending some time with it.  Now, I'm sure many of the folks attending this year's round table have visited poor locations, and many are participating in actions to help alleviate the suffering of poverty.  But there also seem to be speakers on that agenda who are thinking mainly "How can this be turned into a profit?"

I have no control over what the Brookings Institute does with its Global Poverty Roundtable-- I have zero influence over their policies.  I do, however, know a bit about poverty.  I grew up in rural Virginia--in coal country.  My father was a coal miner... when the mines were open. I now live and work in rural, southeastern Kentucky.  36.2% of people in the county where I live (Knox) survive in poverty-- much of it extreme. Most of the remaining residents aren't living cushy lives, either.

I see poverty every day...

As do many of you... the world over.


Here are some locations the Brookings Institute might want to consider for future discussions:

Asmara, Eritrea in East Africa
While attempting to deal with its poverty through education, Eritrea is currently the 7th poorest country in the world.  Its capital city is full of beautiful Italian architecture... and impoverished people.
Detroit, Michigan

Detroit is in the middle of a city-wide financial crisis. It has a rich musical and theater history (and present).  It is home to the amazing Renaissance Center, as well to tens of thousands of abandoned homes.

Sucre, Bolivia
The income and poverty issues in Bolivia have to do with rural demographics-- women and children make up large percentages of the population in rural Bolivia, and both groups have little opportunity for training and employment.
Athens, Greece
Greece's unemployment rate currently sits at 27%, and it is the poster child for how austerity policies "fix" an economy.  Visitors can marvel at the Acropolis and at the number of people in soup kitchen lines.

There are hundreds more cities that could be on this list... I haven't even brushed the surface (or even mentioned every continent).  

I just think that discussions about poverty might begin with at least a "field trip" to examine it at the its many sources, in reality.  I don't get having very expensive conversations about poverty in Aspen...

Couldn't that money be spent in a more productive manner?

Additional resources used in researching this diary:
Knox County, KY

Originally posted to mommyof3 on Sat Aug 03, 2013 at 12:04 PM PDT.

Also republished by Hunger in America, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and Community Spotlight.

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