Last spring, as the rancorous debates in Minnesota and Washington heated up to an almost deafening cacophony, A Minnesota Without Poverty’s Board and Public Policy Workgroup discussed the question: What public action could A Minnesota Without Poverty offer that would be a voice of advocacy, but would do so in a unique manner, lower the level of anxiety and fear, and might have a chance to be heard? The answer the group came up with was “humor.” The chosen vehicle for the humor would be video, starring a group of five professional actors that were dubbed the “Minnesota Church Ladies.” The board and workgroup determined the message, and the Church Ladies worked their improv magic to create the scenarios.
The first video addressed the budget issue that was being proposed by some legislators at the state and national levels—if the legislature needs to cut services, then charities and congregations can pick up the pieces. The title of that video was “Budget Holes and Hot Dish.” The final message was:
• We believe there is enough for all to have enough.
• We believe all sectors of society play a significant role in ending poverty.
• Government must play a substantial role because only the public sector can operate at a scale to ensure access, equity, and opportunity to end poverty.
• Charitable efforts are best used to ameliorate the pain of emergencies and crises that arise from poverty.
The second video, entitled “Wedding Cake Conundrum—Abundantly Clear,” addressed tax structure, using the metaphor of a crisis that developed when there seemed not to be enough wedding cake for all of the guests. The question was, who would get left out? The message of this video was:
• Inequality and poverty are getting worse.
• Equitably changing the tax rate can move us toward ending poverty.
• There is enough for all if we all do our part.
The third video, “Public Policy Pickles,” recently released, features the refrain, “when one person is affected, we are all affected.” Five vignettes tell the story: Earl Lost His Job, 24/7, The Local Library, After School, and Pickle Jar. And the bottom line is this:
• We have enough for all to have enough.
• We all hurt when some of us don’t have enough.
All of these videos are available on A Minnesota Without Poverty’s website at www.mnwithoutpoverty.org and on YouTube:
• “Budget Holes and Hot Dish”—http://youtu.be/bE3xl409bEA
• “Wedding Cake Conundrum”—http://youtu.be/AZZJzD0seHc
• “Public Policy Pickles”—http://youtu.be/4-_tEdNUna0
In addition to the production of videos for the Enough for All series, A Minnesota Without Poverty is also sponsoring the Enough for All Campaign in four congressional districts in Minnesota. The first event was held in August in Rochester, Congressional District 1. The Rochester event was a huge success as it included creative elements like a bar/trivia night where participants were quizzed on poverty in Minnesota, poverty in the movies, and poverty in the suburbs. Participants discussed 501(c)(3) questions during a series of mini-workshops, which was followed by a lively panel presentation, performance art, and a call to action. The other three Enough for All events will be held in October 2011, January 2012, and February 2012.