I want to start by giving some shine to my group mates who made this project a whole lot of fun. Shay kept us on task, Jonathan kept it light, and Mikala brought the spirit. And we got it done. Additionally, the facilitation went well through the input from classmates, whose insights into food insecurity provided depth and greater visibility. My hope was to keep it simple, and I believe we achieved that.
One thing that would have made it more simple was to give more time for processing the poverty simulation. We underestimated the time it would take for people not only to complete the simulation but to emotionally process the experience. Also, the last slide where I talked about some key factors related to food insecurity may not have been necessary. The information was based on a policy brief of Detroit, as well as an illustration of food deserts in the U.S., but between the simulation and the initial discussion spurred on by the readings, it didn’t add as much knowledge as engaged in more discussion. Jenna’s point of highlighting food insecurity in Washtenaw County stuck with me. It may have been good to mine more information from Food Gatherers’ website. But fortunately we had Jenna herself to advocate for her field placement.
In our overall facilitation, I think we aimed for a lightness in our tone and style, while also giving people space to reflect more deeply on the issue. Because we used the poverty sim as our way to engage food insecurity, the focus did shift to issues of poverty. It would have been good to follow up with more resources for actively combatting food insecurity, such as addressing food insecurity on college campuses or identifying local pantries and hours of operation. Heather also mentioned malnutrition and how that is being addressed. It was another area that we did not encompass in our facilitation. The poverty simulation limited our scope in that way.
Even though the poverty simulation had its limitations, such as not incorporating more context at the beginning, as well as minimizing other factors that intersect with poverty like race, gender and sexual orientation, it did highlight a strength of students at the social work school- we are trained to look at situations with a critical intersectional lens. We also represent a diversity of people, some struck more deeply by the poverty simulation than others, especially for people that have experienced many of the scenarios that were emphasized. I loved seeing the compassion and good-heartedness in which people participated in the simulation in my group. It wasn’t simply about “winning the game” for people and making it through the end of the month. People considered how their decisions would impact the people they were with, particularly their children, and their relationships with coworkers and neighbors. It was such a testament to the quality of the people in the room. I felt proud to be a student of social work with them.
As with all the previous facilitations and discussions, my heart is stirred. There is so much work to be done, but at the end of the day, it’s not simply about the work that we do, or the things that we learn, but about the relationships that we’re building along the way. And that’s my food for thought.