When the STOP campaign began, I offered a skeptical perspective on the possibilities of such an inoffensive fundraising project “stopping” poverty. Two months later, I continue to hold that general belief: poverty will not be ended with IOP-friendly activism that does little to change the fundamental structures of our society. But, I’ve noticed a more subtle change for which STOP absolutely should be commended.
While it won’t “stop” poverty, it has certainly put it on the map. Project after project (the latest two being a dinner at Uno’s and a collaboration with Habitat for Humanity) have given an extra social cache to an issue that has, since I’ve been here at least, rarely been discussed and even more rarely had that extra pizazz of newness and excitement. STOP has changed that, not only because it has pushed new life into issues of class previously relegated to occasional labor activism and depressingly necessary homeless and housing work, but because it has waged (on my email lists, at least) a fairly continuous PR campaign that makes poverty a center piece of the progressive community. Will the STOP Campaign end poverty? God no. Might it help shift our culture of extreme wealth and privilege to discussions of actual relevance? Let’s hope so. The question will be: will those conversations lead to a new political culture?