Is Anybody Listening?

It’s time to put a human face on the dis­heart­en­ing eco­nom­ic sta­tis­tics that we’re hear­ing almost dai­ly. This video fea­tures stu­dents from a South­ern Cal­i­for­nia high school talk­ing can­did­ly (and with­out scripts) about how the eco­nom­ic col­lapse has affect­ed their day-to-day lives. Unem­ploy­ment, par­ents leav­ing the fam­i­ly, home­less­ness, scarce food — it’s all part of the real­i­ty they’re now liv­ing. Fit­ting­ly, this video project grew out of an AP lit class (more on the back­sto­ry here) that hap­pened to be read­ing F. Scott Fitzger­ald’s The Great Gats­by. There’s noth­ing like a good tale of mate­ri­al­ism and deca­dent moral­i­ty to get strug­gling kids talk­ing.

There’s some­thing of a hap­py end­ing to this sto­ry. This video made its way to Wash­ing­ton, and it result­ed in Pres­i­dent Oba­ma vis­it­ing the school last week dur­ing his trip to Cal­i­for­nia. So, yes, some­one is lis­ten­ing. But how much will it real­ly change the lot of these kids?

Last­ly, you may want to check out this pho­to gallery called Scenes from Reces­sion. It offers “some glimpses of the places and lives affect­ed by what some are call­ing the Great Reces­sion.” Stun­ning and depress­ing stuff, to be sure. But that’s our world.

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Open Culture was founded by Dan Colman.