Children and Poverty...What can be done?

Bottom line February 2019

 By Linda Jorgenson, Board Member - League of Women Voters of Ashland & Bayfield Counties

Too many children face economic barriers to achieving their full potential. In Ashland and Bayfield Counties over 20 percent of children live in poverty.  The Wisconsin End Child Poverty Campaign wants to do something about this.

On Thursday, March 7, the League of Women Voters of Ashland & Bayfield Counties (LWV/ABC) has invited John Wagner to share the experience of Chippewa Falls and Eau Claire County with organizing around this Campaign. It will be held at the Northern Great Lakes Visitors Center from 6:30 to 8:30 PM. 

Wagner is a retired Chief Engineer from Cray Research in Eau Claire and Chairperson of the WISDOM JONAH End Child Poverty campaign in his area. He has a PhD and PostDoc in Chemistry and a personal interest in human brain development. Describing why he has become passionate about ending child poverty Wagner states:

I strongly believe that youth represent the next generation of leaders. I have had ten years of experience teaching young adults who live in poverty (volunteer at Trinity Equine Therapy in Eau Claire, active in Gun Violence committee at First Presbyterian Church in Eau Claire, member of the Kid’s First Action Group in Eau Claire, United States Soccer Federation referee, referee instructor, and assessor, and NISOA (NCAA) college referee), and keenly appreciate the difficulties they live with. This, combined with my multiple interests in modern science that informs us about how poverty affects human development, has led to my strong interest in child poverty and the impacts poverty has on adult outcomes.

This is born out in the many studies in the past twenty years which amply demonstrate that children who live in poverty are at greater risk of education challenges, health problems, lower future earnings, and shortened life expectancy.  Since many Ashland and Bayfield County governments, businesses, health care agencies, churches, and civic organizations are already working hard on these problems, the LWV/ABC would like to see our counties unite with other communities around the state to press for state level action.  They endorse the goal of the End Child Poverty Campaign to have the Wisconsin Legislature set a target to reduce child poverty and racial disparity by one-half in 10 years and develop the policies to make that happen.  Since evidence based best practice policies show this can be done, it’s just a matter of the will power to get down to work.

The forum is free and open to everyone.

The League of Women Voters of Ashland & Bayfield Counties is a nonpartisan political organization whose main objective is to promote political responsibility through the informed and active participation of all citizenship government at all levels, especially locally.  It influences public policy through education and advocacy. Get involved with the local League at http://www.lwvabcwi.org/or info@lwvabcwi.org.

Lively Issues Sets League Goals - January 2019

In League

By Anne Chartier, President, League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties

Greetings in this brand new year!

I recently listened to an archived edition of On Point with historian Yuval Harari. He believes that a good way to engage in what should be a global, not a single country's, approach to the problems of our world is to join an organization. Not surprisingly, I thought of our involvement with the League of Women Voters (LWV). Because of our members’ efforts on the issues,  we are trusted by many, and our non-partisan work is especially valuable in these times.

Please mark your calendars for an important League gathering we call Lively Issues on Tuesday, January 29 at 6:30 in the Washburn Library.

Lively Issues is the opportunity for you to become fully informed about the work our local League is engaged in. It is a chance to comment on and affirm or question what we are doing. It is also the place to propose issues you think the League should focus on. 

Our newsletters include articles about each of the committees, although much has happened since the last one was emailed in November. You can access them at our website www.lwvabcwi.org  Click on News at the top.

If you would like to propose an issue to work on, please keep in mind that our action and advocacy are based on positions. League positions are the product of study, debate, and consensus. Maybe you have been involved with such a process within the League over the years. Our State League's website my.lwv.org/wisconsin lists the positions by topic. 

The public is encouraged to attend, yet only League members are eligible vote on League matters.

You can make an impact by becoming a member of the League of Women Voters.  You’ll join thousands of people across our nation who are working to ensure that each of us has access to and power at the polls.  Find our membership application at www.lwvabcwi.org/membership/.

Through participation in League projects, you will:

  • Contribute valuable service to the community.

  • Gain knowledge and experience through the study and discussion of timely and important topics.

  • Discover new interests, develop new skills, and learn about crucial issues in your community.

  • Make professional contacts and develop lasting friendships as you meet others in the League who share your interests.We look forward to seeing you at 6:30 in the Washburn Library on January 29, and in the year to come.


In 2019 Let Us Pledge To End Childhood Poverty

Bottom Line Article

December 2018
In The League

By Linda Jorgenson, Board Member - League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties

This is an incredibly heartwarming time of year in the North Country. Everywhere you look, in every community, individuals, churches, businesses, and civic organizations are generously making sure that everyone in our community has gifts to open and a holiday meal.  In fact our counties can take pride in being seen as one of the most benevolent places to live in the US.

To build on this impressive culture, the League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties (LWV/ABC) is urging that we “up our game” and join a new statewide coalition to end childhood poverty in Wisconsin in the next ten years.

The End Childhood Poverty Campaign was created in 2016 by four groups.  Two faith based organizations - the WI Council of Churches and WISDOM (an interfaith organization) - and two policy organizations - WI Citizen Action and Kids Forward (formerly WI Council of Children and Families). The Coalition was galvanized into action by the shocking 20% rise in poverty in Wisconsin from 2015-16 at a time when headlines touted low unemployment and increasing wages.  Additionally, a growing body of knowledge regarding the negative long term physical and mental health outcomes for children raised in poverty demands action to end that poverty.

Out of the desire to sidestep ideological divisions and focus on a moral commitment to outcomes, the Campaign set a goal to eliminate child poverty in 10 years and to do it by advocating for best evidence-based practices measureable for their success.  They sought out strategies identified by both conservative and liberal policy organizations. In particular, they were impressed with the success of the United Kingdom which set itself a similar goal in 2001 and has cut its child poverty in half.

The LWV/ABC has enthusiastically endorsed this Campaign. It is a logical follow up to its 2016 study on the Impact of Economic Inequality on Ashland and Bayfield Counties. It too was alarmed at the rise in the number of families who struggle monthly to meet their basic needs (48% in Ashland County and 36% in Bayfield County - from the United Way of Wisconsin’s ALICE Report).

The LWV/ABC seeks to partner with churches and civic organizations in this Campaign. The first step is collecting signatures and organizational endorsements to bring before the Wisconsin Legislature in 2019.  The hope is that they will concur and enact a statewide goal and begin to focus on programs and policies that have demonstrated effectiveness: early childhood education and interventions, supports to families, and family sustaining wages.

Ashland and Bayfield Counties should be leaders in this effort.  It would be the truest manifestation of our desire to practice the spirit of giving from all our faith traditions, and Wisconsin’s strong culture of caring for one another. 

For more information about the Campaign please visit www.endchildpovertywi.org. If you would like to join the local effort please call LWV/ABC Board Members Jan Penn at 715-274-2942, or Linda Jorgenson at 715-373-2948.  For more information about the local League go to www.lwvabcwi.org

Lively Issues Sets League Goals

In League

 By Liz Seefeldt, Civic Engagement Chair and Board Member - League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties

As we put election season behind us and look forward toward the holidays, some of us may be struggling with how to engage friends and family who hold ideals and political positions that are at odds with our own. The League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties has created a new focus area of Civic Engagement to deal with just this issue.

In researching what others are doing to promote positive civic engagement, we came across a valuable resource. The University of Arizona’s National Institute for Civil Discourse (NICD)

has developed their Initiative to Revive Civility to encourage people across our nation to “Setthe Table for Civility.” The Initiative asks people to consider the need to heal the divisions in our country and to act to help increase civility and respect. One specific goal of this project is to get people from different perspectives to talk and listen to each other about theirpositions.

The NICD provides a wide range of tools to jump start your own civil discourse. From discussion guides to activities, and even a 20 Questions civility game, these resources can help you “Set the Table for Civility.” Activities are tailored for families and friends, faith gatherings, campus groups, and social media communities.

A favorite item is their “Tips to Avoid the Food Fight.” This includes suggestions to:

·      Select a welcoming and comfortablespace

·      Have clear intentions and make sure invitees understand the purpose of the gatheringand topics fordiscussion

·      Agree on respectful ground rules before the discussion begins

·      Listen to learn; the goal is to understand, NOTdebate

·      Practice – because civility doesn’t always comenaturally

·      Tend to self-care by paying attention to our reactions, finding ways to reduce tension,and communicating our discomfort withothers

·      Have fun! Sharing stories and laughing together helps deescalate stressfulencounters and buildscommunity!

Other tools include a sample agreement of ground rules, “Tips for Managing Stress During Difficult Conversations,” as well as discussion-starting questions. You can event take the NICD’s civility pledge!

The National Institute for Civil Discourse started a nationwide grassroots effort to increase awareness of the need to change the tone of political interactions and to offer specific suggestions on how to accomplish that change. “The National Institute for Civil Discourse is a non-partisan institute based at the University of Arizona's School of Social and Behavioral Sciences dedicated to addressing incivility and political dysfunction in American democracy by promoting structural and behavioral change.” Learn more about the National Institute for Civil Discourse and its Setting the Table for Civility project at https://www.revivecivility.org/setting-table-civility.

If you’re interested in more information about protecting voting rights and ensuring an informed electorate, the League of Women Voters might be for you! The League of Women Voters of Ashland and Bayfield Counties is a nonpartisan political organization encouraging informed and active participation in government. It influences public policy through education and advocacy. Get in touch with the local League at http://www.lwvabcwi.org/or info@lwvabcwi.org.