In her New York Times best-selling book, Nickel and Dimed (2001), journalist and activist Barbara Ehrenrich moves from Florida to Maine to Minnesota to explore “low-wage America,” working for poverty-level wages across the country and documenting the results. Cited as “changing the way America perceives its working poor,” Nickel and Dimed reveals the day-to-day challenges of working for minimum wage in America. Yet, as Ehrenreich acknowledges at the end of this excerpt, “this is just an experiment, you know, not my actual life.” Ehrenreich's experiment offers an opportunity to discuss the nature of poverty and need in America, as well as the implications of her story for those for whom poverty is an everyday reality.
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Reading - Short Enough to Read Aloud.
Identity and CommunityJustice and EqualityKnowledge and UncertaintyLove and CompassionMoney and WealthOrganizing and ActivismPoverty and NeedPower and PrivilegeRoles and BoundariesSocial and Political ChangeSpeech and ExpressionTeaching and LearningWork and Vocation
How does a person learn compassion?How do communities have a voice?What are the causes of poverty?What is the appropriate response to privilege?Who has the right to speak for a community?Where does the best learning happen – in the classroom or elsewhere?
It may also be important to include biographical information about Ehrenreich so that participants can have a better understanding of her background and therefore the implications of her project