In this podcast, Noor I. Alam, Brooklyn Law School Class of 2012, talks about a recent event Representing the Poor Today: Poverty Law in Recession Times which the Edward V. Sparer Public Interest Law Fellowship Program sponsored. The Sparer Program has been preparing law students and lawyers to work for social justice and the greater good since 1985 and has earned nationwide recognition. Sparer Fellow Noor I. Alam organized and hosted the event. The panelists were Keynote Speaker Frances Fox Piven, Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology, Graduate Center, City University of New York; Edward De Barbieri , BLS Class of 2008, former Sparer Law Fellow and Staff Attorney at Urban Justice Center; Richard Blum, staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society; Jennifer DaSilva. Executive Director at Start Small Think Big, Inc.; Sarah Ludwig, founder of the Neighborhood Economic Development Advocacy Project (NEDAP); and Brooke Richie, founder and executive director of the Resilience Advocacy Project.
In her comments, legendary political scientist and activist Frances Fox Piven, who has been writing about poverty, welfare rights and protest movements for nearly half a century, discussed rising inequality, poverty, and the condition of the safety net. The BLS Library has a several books which Prof. Piven wrote including Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail (Call #KF4749 .P584).
Another panel member, BLS alumnus Edward De Barbieri, showed how the working poor can organize to improve their lives by helping immigrant women launch an employee-owned housecleaning business called Sí Se Puede. Within four years, its worker-owners tripled their wages to as much as $25 an hour and the company now has 37 worker-owners grossing $1.6 million. For more detail on that effort, see the Gotham Gazette article More Low-Wage Workers Become Their Own Bosses.