The Do the Math town hall meeting on Tuesday night was exciting. It was interesting to hear the other participants talk about their experience (remarkably similar to our own) but, for me, the really thrilling part was afterward when Nick asked the 300-strong crowd to divide up into breakout groups and come up with suggestions about how to move forward on this issue.
Frankly, I was skeptical that it would work—I thought that after an hour of talk most people would run for the hills—but three quarters or more of the crowd stuck around and spent 15 minutes talking in groups of 10 about how to change the world. Or at least how to bring attention to the inadequacies of social assistance in Ontario.
There were passionate retirees and articulate young people, people on social assistance and middle class types from the neighbourhood. They offered up ideas from creating community action groups to bringing social assistance recipients into classrooms to break down prejudice and preconceived notions about welfare to spreading the Do the Math campaign across the province. (There will be another, more hand’s-on meeting in 2 weeks to develop the ideas further—check the Do the Math site for details.)
The level of engagement and passion people brought to the issue was inspiring and made me feel very hopeful that change is possible.
I’ve said it before, but it bears repeating, food connects us all. It is an incredible tool to bring people together and, when used for this purpose, to break down inequalities.
Congratulations to the organizers for putting together such an excellent, well-thought-out campaign, and for creating such a hospitable space to engage with this important issue.