If you declare, in a famous poem affixed to the Statue of Liberty, in New York Harbor, “Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed, to me,” you might consider that a certain commitment has been made.
have a long and sordid history, initially constructed as a shanty town by soldiers who had nowhere to live. Then the poor people from rural areas moved to the cities for job opportunities, expanding the favelas. Today, there are over 500 favelas, with about a third of Rio de Janeiro's population, and they're growing
. The three primary drug gangs that fight for control in the favelas formed in the 1970s
(PDF), but they were formed not solely by fighters, but also political radicals
, and these gangs provide some social services where the government does not. That is, until the Pacifying Police Units were formed in 2008
, with the goal of pushing the gangs out and providing government stability from a live-in police force. But this isn't just to an effort to end the gang violence -- the slums are being swept ahead of the tourist rush
, and the shanty towns are now seeing a rapid gentrification from non-Brazilians and speculators
In the Shadow of Wounded Knee.
Along the southwestern border of South Dakota is one of the most poverty-stricken places in the United States—the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota people. After 150 years of broken promises, they are still nurturing their tribal customs, language and beliefs. Via [more inside]
The International Coalition of Sites of Conscience
is a directory of historic sites that interpret themes related to ethical, political, and social issues worldwide.
'is an institution that often evokes the harsh and squalid world of Oliver Twist
, but its story is also a fascinating mixture of social history, politics, economics and architecture.'
The Bolles Collection on the History of London
at the Tufts University Perseus Digital Library
contains, among other transcripts, the searchable text of all four volumes of the Henry Mayhew's classic 19th century account London Labour and the London Poor
: Volume 1
(costermongers and street-sellers); Volume 2
(more street-sellers, cleansing, and sewer work); Volume 3
(vermin destroyers, street entertainers, labourers, cabbies, vagrants); and the Extra Volume
(vice and beggars). Read of the sellers of fake pornography
; death and fire-hunters
; a depressed street clown
; "pure" (i.e. dog dung) finders
; and more. The past really is another country.
- The Bowling family has lived in the same rural hollow in Kentucky for seven generations. The Washington Post tells their story using the Bowlings' own words (including audio clips) and photographs with a Web site you might expect from PBS. Urban Americans (and others, too) might be surprised to learn that there are many, many families in the U.S. who still live like the Bowlings.
"It's 1998 and we just last year put running water in the house, into my kitchen sink. We did it ourselves. We bought line, hooked into Iree's well, dug up a ditch and ran it to the house. But I still need a bathroom and a septic tank. I got a rinse tub that we take a bath in. I'd rather have a bathtub, but meanwhile I can make do."