Following the film, local leaders will participate in a panel discussion about the psychological impacts of poverty and the challenges they create in promoting upward mobility in Middletown. City Manger Doug Adkins, who will be sitting on the panel, believes that successful efforts to address poverty and penetrate a mentality of hopelessness must be collaborative, holistic, and understanding of the circumstances in which people live. Adkins adds that, “poverty has its own culture and lifting families out of poverty takes faith, community resources, education, reliable child care, transportation and job opportunities. Only when all of those needs are simultaneously and continually met will families see ongoing success.” Joining Adkins on the panel will be Jackie Phillips (Middletown Health Commissioner), Suzanne Prescott (Early Childhood Program Director, Butler County Educational Service Center), and Jeffrey Diver (Executive Director, Supports to Encourage Low-Income Families [SELF]).
The event will begin with the screening of a documentary film, Replicating a J.D. Vance Anomaly. Produced by Middlelayers, the film is an exploration of the socio-economic factors that prevent impoverished children from becoming upwardly mobile. The panel discussion following the film will take a more focused look at West Virginia and will discuss barriers to social mobility, beginning in early childhood, in greater detail. Panel participants will then explore strategies to promote opportunity in the state and best prepare citizens to take advantage of it through education, youth development, and other programs. Sitting on the panel will be West Virginia University Student body president Blake Humphrey, Dr. Kristin Moilanen (associate professor) and Dr. Sara Anderson (assistant professor) of the WVU College of Education and Human Services.
In support of on-going economic and social development efforts, the Department of Economic and Community Development for the City of Brunswick, in partnership with Middlelayers, will be hosting a viewing of a documentary film to engage the public in a conversation about civic responsibility and community-based solutions to address disparities in health, education, and mobility.
Produced by Middlelayers, Replicating a J.D. Vance Anomaly will be shown at the Historic Ritz Theater on May 6, 2018 at 3:00 pm. Following the film, local leaders will participate on a discussion panel. The panel will explore current development efforts in Brunswick and strategies to further promote upward mobility among the city’s most marginalized populations.
JD Vance did not always enjoy the level of academic and commercial success that he is recognized for today. Growing up in the industrial rust belt town of Middletown, Ohio and Appalachian Jackson, Kentucky, JD was accustomed to a much different life. Like many of his neighbors in these white working class towns, his upbringing was tumultuous and characterized by financial troubles, unstable home environments, and abuse. Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs outlines human motivation and differentiates between deficiency and growth needs (Atkins, 2011). According to his theory, all individuals must fulfill their deficiency needs, including physiological, safety, and social needs, before we can develop self-esteem and become self-actualized. JD, like so many other impoverished children, struggled to fulfill his deficiency needs. He seemed unlikely to finish high school and certain to fall victim to the cycle of poverty, which preyed on generations of his family. But, against all odds, JD managed to overcome his disadvantage. He describes his journey and those who helped him along the way in his best-selling book, Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis.