In this episode of “Adventures in Symbolism Over Substance”…
Located on Lake Michigan “in the heart of Chicago‘s North Shore,” the city of Highland Park is “home to unique boutiques and shops, exceptional restaurants, and vibrant arts.” On Saturday, the affluent suburb is set to host a “poverty simulation” event — at the city’s country club.
The city announced on Tuesday it’s hosting the event in partnership with the Alliance for Human Services, Family Focus, Moraine Township, and the Highland Park Community Foundation. The goal of the event is to increase “residents’ understanding and awareness of what it is like to live in poverty in Lake County.”
So why would an affluent community like Highland Park — among the richest cities in the country, with a median household income “more than double the national figure,” according to finance website 24/7 Wall Street — of roughly 30,000 people host such an event, you ask?
The question is rhetorical; read on.
City Manager Ghida Neukirch said in a statement to NBC Chicago that the simulation event was “developed and presented by social services professionals.”
The city is partnering with social services professionals from Highland Park and Lake County to offer this immersive experience to raise awareness of the need for resources to support individuals experiencing economic insecurity, and the wide-ranging consequences of this systemic inequity on families and communities. Programs such as this one, which are developed and presented by social services professionals, are intended to bridge that gap.
The city explained the upcoming event in detail on its Facebook page.
The City of Highland Park is partnering with the Alliance for Human Services, Family Focus, Moraine Township, and the Highland Park Community Foundation to host a poverty simulation event to increase residents’ understanding and awareness of what it is like to live in poverty in Lake County. The simulation will be held on Saturday, September 9, 9:00 – 11:30 AM at the Highland Park Country Club (1201 Park Ave. W.) Register: https://www.eventbrite.com/…/poverty-simulation-event…
Participants in this immersive experience will begin to experience what a “month” in poverty feels like. Participants are put into situations in which they do not have enough resources and are forced to make difficult choices that can negatively impact them and their families. The outcome is increased awareness of the need for resources to support those living in poverty to create a more resilient health, human, and education sector in our local area. Participation is free, but registration is required.
Again, symbolism over substance? An effort to justify higher taxes (more wealth redistribution)? Or, simply an attempt to force a guilt trip on affluent residents of Highland Park?
As one might imagine, not everyone in the community was thrilled about the news.
Highland Park responds after criticism over ‘poverty simulation’ event https://t.co/Zdoz0oR2uC
— NBC Chicago (@nbcchicago) September 6, 2023
One commenter wrote:
I have to echo the tone-deafness of this. Held at a country club of all places. You’re literally holding an event to make rich people feel good about themselves and further stigmatize the experiences of people in poverty. It’s not even a fundraiser? A food drive? Something that would give anything back to the people whose experiences you’re pretending to care about?
Wow. The privilege here is just beyond words. What a slap in the face to all of those who are struggling, especially in today’s economy.
What’s next — simulated southern border surges?
The Bottom Line
Listen, I don’t know what prompted the city of Highland Park to plan an event like this any more than I know why Bud Light did its disastrous thing with Dylan Mulvaney. But I do know this: The law of unintended consequences is alive and well in the Wack World of Woke.
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