By Bella Butler EBS Editorial Assistant
BIG SKY – The world is full of unfortunate challenges, including diseases, violence and inequality, among many others. One particular issue, with details that can often be misunderstood, is poverty.
The Lone Peak High School National Honor Society is hoping to shed light on the subject when they host a screening of the documentary “Poverty, Inc.” on Saturday, Jan. 21, at the Lone Peak Cinema.
Countless organizations around the globe put up efforts to fight the cycle of poverty, but how many people actually stop and ask: “Am I really helping?”
This was a question raised to LPHS senior Sayler Tatom last summer, when she attended a two-week program studying the issue under professor Connie Mick at the University of Notre Dame. Mick is co-director of the Poverty Studies Interdisciplinary Minor at the Indiana university.
“We talked about how poverty happens [and] the logistics of it globally,” Tatom said.
The camp was only two weeks long, but what Tatom took away from it will last a lifetime, she said. Students watched “Poverty, Inc.,” which dives into the truth about breaking the poverty cycle through wiser means of international involvement.
The film features Magatte Wade and Daniel Jean Lewis, entrepreneurs who argue that long-term solutions to poverty in foreign nations are best created through local entrepreneurship rather than free aid and gifted resources. After watching the film, Tatom had the opportunity to speak with Wade and Lewis and to discuss the ideas proposed in the film.
Soon after this experience, Tatom contacted LPHS National Honor Society President Dasha Bough with a proposition to bring the film to Big Sky to spread awareness of a global topic, which is one of the missions of NHS.
“I thought it could be a great thing for the people of Big Sky,” Tatom said. “A lot of times we are very sheltered and I thought an event to show the documentary could be eye opening.”
The National Honor Society (of which I’m a member) hosted an event earlier this year, where we showed the film “Screenagers,” and hosted speakers who investigated the digital age children are raised in today. The committee planning the “Poverty, Inc.” event decided to model the affair similarly by bringing in two speakers on the topic.
Prior to the Jan. 21 screening, professional educational and cultural consultant Shane Doyle for the Department of Native American Studies at Montana State University, and the founder of the Livingston Food Pantry, Michael McCormick, will present their experiences to the community to tie the film in with local perspectives.
Doyle grew up in Crow Agency, Montana, and is an expert on the topic of impoverished Native American reservations, not only in a professional manner, but also personally.
“I guess I kind of grew up in poverty,” Doyle said. “It’s a complex issue, and it’s difficult to articulate it in a way that is meaningful and relatable.”
Raised by a single working mother, Doyle grew up with a vastly different understanding of his financial struggles than an outsider would have perceived it. He believes that poverty is a matter of context—it’s circumstantial, he says.
“When people talk about poverty, you don’t think about yourself,” Doyle said. “It was difficult to reconcile with what other people thought was poverty, and the way I lived.” He now has 17 years of teaching experience, including 13 at MSU in Bozeman, where he lives with his wife and five children.
Doyle will be a key part of the awareness event, Tatom said, and NHS is eager for him to share his personal experiences and professional opinions with Big Sky.
The free event will begin with presentations by the speakers at 4:30 p.m., followed by the screening of “Poverty, Inc.”