Although poverty remains entrenched in many parts of Kentucky, there is a chance for change, Newsweek editor Jonathan Alter says.
"We have a lot of examples of poor regions of the world where there have been a cultural and economic shift and it has created prosperity," said Alter, the award-winning Newsweek columnist, television analyst and author.
He will be the keynote speaker Monday at The Poverty Forum, sponsored by the Community Action Council.
"Places like Ireland were poor for hundreds of years and places like China that just had implacable poverty and now they are now on an astonishing growth curve," he said. "The past doesn't have to be prologue for poverty."
Alter, who has written about social change over a long career, said the council forum is a good way to start the conversation about what tangible change can be made.
"When you are organizing for change in the community, it really has to be done in a collaborative way," he said.
But it's also important to realize the progress that has been made, he said. It's true that many people live in poor conditions, but few suffer the deprivation that existed, for example, during the Great Depression.
"While rural poverty is bad, it's nothing like it was generations ago," he said.
Alter will share the stage with Gov. Steve Beshear and Rep. Ben Chandler, who will make brief remarks, said Cameron Minter, external communications specialist. for the council. Questions from the audience will not be taken.
Money raised by the event will fund council programs aimed at programs providing a variety of services, including child development and energy assistance.
Minter said the forum will be followed up by other public meetings in the community over the next year. Those plans, however, have not been set.