That’s the catchy slogan for the Poverty Olympics, which took place in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on Sunday. The event mixed fun and games with a serious message about our province’s failure to adequately tackle poverty and homelessness while we spend spend spend getting ready for the 2010 Olympics (more in this Wall Street Journal article…or see photos by Goh Iromoto).
But can we really expect to “end poverty”? My generation grew up in the age of food banks and street people. Poverty is normalized for us, even if we’ve never experienced it ourselves. It’s not that I don’t believe my older friends and colleagues when they tell me food banks are a relatively recent invention, and that homeless people didn’t used to live in virtually every park and underpass — I just have a hard time imagining what a city/province/country with little or no poverty would actually look like. (At least not without taking my next vacation in Sweden.)
Even if I can’t quite imagine the end result, there is evidence that poverty can be substantially reduced, if not eliminated (for example, see this Unicef report on the wide variations in child poverty among OECD nations, and the UK’s recent improvements on its child poverty record).
Last week, the CCPA signed on to an open letter calling for a legistlated poverty reduction plan — one that would end street homelessness and reduce poverty by 30% within the mandate of the next provincial government. The open letter — signed by 200+ organizations — also called for a 75% reduction in poverty within a decade.
That might not be an end to poverty, but I’ll take it. And if you like the sounds of it, please sign your name to the call.