Class in Capacity Building

I have been fairly obsessed with issues having to do with nonprofit capacity building since 1991 – leadership, governance, sustainability, constituent voice, hierarchical organizations versus flatter ones, and so forth. From the1980s into the 1990s, capacity builders can be blamed in some part for the mantra of “nonprofits need to be more business like.”  The turn of the century saw more and more sophistication of nonprofit management theory and capacity building, and a type of expertise and language-building reminiscent of academia. “We are expert and understand these theories and terms and therefore worthy of our fees.”  Hmmmmm. I, myself, have... Read More

Spring Break?

When I think of spring break, I think of MTV and early 20-somethings soaking up the sun. I believe that this ideal spring break is becoming more and more mythical with the rising costs of education. Classism enables wealthy students to obtain degrees debt free while low-income and working-class students are faced with more and more debt. I would love to spend spring break on a beach somewhere with a margarita, but for me that is not an option. I am a part-time student currently trying to find a way to finance a full-time education. I am responsible for paying my own rent,... Read More

How Class Affects My (Breaks from) Class

As a teenager, I became acquainted with our modern society’s expectation of “spring break” through MTV’s spring break specials. I remember as a teen feeling an acute sense of “fear of missing out“ when seeing slightly older peers dancing on the beach and swimming in the ocean. Growing up in rural Ohio, I was nowhere near a body of water other than Lake Erie, which is aptly named. Towards the end of high school, I did end up going to Lake Erie on spring break, which felt like a dampened and dirtier version of the MTV spring break experience. You... Read More

Debbie Downer’s Spring Break

Spring break is coming up. That means hearing about Cancun and Barcelona while walking by students, seeing Airbnb and hotel tabs on 101 laptops, and seeing Snapchat countdowns every day. Spring break is a college student’s dream – one that comes with a hefty price to make it a reality. As a student coming from a low-income background at a school like Tufts, where approximately 18% of the students come from families in the top 1%*, there are rarely ever spaces that are inclusive of people from different, usually less privileged socio-economic classes. You can see this in the amount of... Read More

Was the International Women’s Day Strike Classist?

What did you do for International Women’s Day? Did you strike? Well, I’m currently unemployed, and my partner has been supporting us while I’ve been more-or-less taking care of our home. We had a conversation in the morning about the kind of day-to-day work I do around the house, how a lot of it is unbalanced background work that goes largely unnoticed if you’re not the one doing it (like making sure there’s a back-up toilet paper and that the stove gets wiped down every day, for instance), and how he could take some of it on in the future. He committed... Read More

Classism in Literature: Poor Boy Syndrome

In the song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” Freddy Mercury sings, “I’m just a poor boy, I need no sympathy.” He’s right, you don’t. Yet, it seems that in the literary world, poor boys are the ones who receive all the sympathy. It did not dawn on me until I took the class Working Class Women’s Literature at Goucher College that novels about impoverished women are deprecated. If there has to be a class in a liberal arts college dedicated to reading novels about destitute women, then you know it’s a marginalized genre. In fact, if you look at the most popularized books in... Read More

Social Class and a Writing Conference

Though not all writing conferences are expensive, many are. A number try, essentially, to take money from those who can afford it to subsidize those who can’t – a worthy policy.  But one still tends to meet more wealthy people than poor at a writing conference. Last summer, I attended one on the East Coast that featured a creative nonfiction workshop. We sent our writing ahead to fellow participants before the conference. I read the first one and thought, “Yikes! This person’s mother was president of Phi Beta Kappa at Harvard! She could just call up a professor there and arrange... Read More

The Gig Economy and The Creative

A Perfect Match, Right? People with power tend to view gigs as hobbies, or sometimes lucrative endeavors in the “sharing economy.” Everybody knows Uber drivers, indies and consultants make a killing while controlling their own destinies, right? Yeah, as if. For 26 years I’ve depended on project work, “gigs,” for my employment and income source. I didn’t get to “choose” my “career” canvas. I had to do the best with what was available to me in the moment. But hey, no problem for me: I’m a project-prone guy, I’m good at sizing up terrain and implementing improvements, a team/project supercharger, and as... Read More