Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Rutland: Town Meeting on Poverty

Last Saturday night Congressman Bernie Sanders sponsored a town meeting to discuss the issue of poverty. It had been billed as an opportunity for citizens to gather and and discuss the increasingly troubling problem of poverty. Though there were many competing activities me and my family could have chosen on perhaps the most beautiful weekend of the year, we along with about 60 others wanted to dialogue about the forgotten issue of poverty in America.



There seemed to be a cross-section of the community represented with low-income organizations present as well as concerned citizens and people who are poor. For my family and I hearing from many people in our community about the issue of poverty was the most inspiring. We were also lifted by the hopefulness of Bernie Sanders and by his demands to us to " not give up" and to "fight the good fight."



As most of us are aware, Bernie is likely to become the next United States Senator from Vermont as Jim Jeffords steps down. Bernie continues to appear the strong populist that he is being very approachable, eating supper that night with us and not displaying the trappings of his job with our community. So many of the people sharing our table talked about how lucky we are to have Bernie representing us asking the question " why can't other politicians represent the needs of our most vulnerable citizens like Bernie does?"



Perhaps the most touching dialogue that night was by a young woman from Holland who married a US citizen and lives in Vermont. She said that when she came to America she became quite freightened and asked the question " what is going on over here." She talked about the supports for the citizens of her country as being very different from the US and that there were certain rights and expectations that we do not seem to share over here. In a heartfelt discussion, she said she is torn whether or not to have children in the US or to return to Holland because of the many social problems we are creating for the people of our country. Bernie loudly asked her to stay and work towards making America a better place.



Continued next week.........

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