Week Ahead: UNCW poverty conference takes place Monday
March 25, 2013By Lori Wilson
The second annual UNCW-sponsored Taking the Pulse on Poverty conference will be held Monday, March 25 in Cameron Hall Auditorium from 7 to 9 p.m. and is free and open to the public.
The main idea of the conference is to shed light and bring awareness to the issue of poverty, particularly in the Wilmington area, said UNCW professor and head facilitator of the event Earl Sheridan. Sheridan chairs the department of public and international relations that, along with the department of sociology and criminology and the Watson College of Education, sponsors the conference.
“Our area doesn’t like to talk about it, but it’s a serious problem in our society in general,” Sheridan said. “About 22-23 percent of people are below the poverty level here in Wilmington. That’s a significant number.”
In New Hanover County, 15.9 percent of residents live below the poverty level, compared to 16.1 percent statewide, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
Sheridan said the schedule for this year’s conference has changed. Last year, the conference was a two-day event, but this year’s focus is a discussion lead by five panelists from the local community and one from Raleigh – Yolanda Burwell, of the N.C. Rural Economic Development Center.
The panel will discuss excerpts from the documentary Ain’t I a Person about poverty in America.
“It’s just another way to try and focus on poverty. It will be the focal point and jumping off point for the discussion,” Sheridan said.
Given the majority of local representatives on the panel, the discussion is intended to localize the issue of poverty in the greater Wilmington area, Sheridan said.
“I don’t think that many of our decision makers and our leaders, not just here in Wilmington, really speak of the issue, particularly in the face of the recession we’re going through,” he said. “We’re excited about the idea of making people aware, talking about it and discussing it. We hope that ideas will come through to help our area.”