By Janet Goetze
For the Hollywood Star News
North and Northeast interfaith groups are exploring ways to create a “poverty informed” community. They see that as a first step in helping people find pathways out of a day-to-day or paycheck-to-paycheck existence.
Their efforts follow an October forum with Donna Beegle, a Portlander who works to break cycles of poverty. She is president of a consulting firm, Communication Across Barriers.
At a November follow-up meeting, nearly three dozen people who attended the forum discussed what they learned, then they formed work groups to explore what steps to take next. The work groups are scheduled to report on their ideas at noon January 28 at Westminster Presbyterian Church, 1624 N.E. Hancock St. The reports may include ideas for how the faith groups can collaborate, what local or statewide policy issues might need attention and other ideas arising from group discussions, said Carol Turner, a co-convener of the poverty forum.
Beegle recommended creating a “poverty informed” community that gains facts about what contributes to conditions that leave people without basic needs or hope of change. She also recommended removing paralyzing judgment and reducing the isolation of those in poverty.
Forum attendees wrote comments about what they learned, including “The subtleties of prejudicial thought” and “Recognition of labels and misconceptions and how they build walls.”
At the follow-up meeting, Rod MacDonald, a North Portland resident and member of Westminster, said, “I was struck, after the forum, that what I have been doing all these years, that made me feel good, may not be what needs to be done.”