We all want our cities to be livable and sustainable, especially for our children. However for many families who work for low wages, our cities are not very hospitable places. We must start taking this reality into account when working to make our cities more livable for all families. Truly livable cities, at their most basic level, are places where everyone can cover their basic living expenses.
But where to start? An important starting place is to begin to listen to the stories of low wage workers. They are often invisible to us, yet we see them every day. They prepare our meals. They clean up after us. They take care of our children. Yet we rarely think about how they and their families survive when they go home.
The Listening Circles project engaged families in ‘Listening Circles’ over an eight week period, facilitated by Mount Pleasant Neighbourhood House. These ‘Listening Circles’ captured stories from working families, experiencing poverty and exclusion. The project gave participants tools and encouraged confidence to communicate their stories and reflect on how a Living Wage could improve their lives and the lives of their children.
Artist, and Photographer Anne Marie Slater worked with participants to transform their stories, through photography, emulating advertising formats, into public art. The outcome is an arresting set of billboard size photographic images that captures the hidden stories of families living in low wage poverty.