Join Tonight’s Call. $2.00 A Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America.

Reader ‘s Forum–from Nevada to the Bronx to Florida

We wrap up our Reader’s Forum this afternoon with four submissions. One from Catana Barnes, the President of Independent Voters of Nevada, two from college students at  Bronx Community College and a note from an independent activist in Florida.

I hope that you will join us this evening at 7 pm EST for our conversation with co-author of $2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America, Kathryn Edin.


Politics for the People Conference Call

With Kathyrn Edin, co-author of

$2.00 a Day: Living on Almost Nothing in America

Join the Conversation

641-715-3605 and passcode 767775#



Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaffer’s $2.00 A Day Living on Almost Nothing in America is one of the most personally relatable books I have ever read. As I read through chapters 1 and 2, I felt as though I was reading through a diary of my own life. Chapter 2, Perilous

catana barnes speakingWork, affected me so much it was suggested that I not finish reading the book. I will, of course, finish reading the book with great anticipation and, unfortunately, with great sadness. This is a book that can be of comfort and support to those, like myself, who have had to survive on little to nothing and a book that can provide great insight to those who have never had to deal with this kind of struggle. I absolutely believe this book can and will change the way people, in the United State and the /world, understand and view poverty in the United States; a country that proclaims its economic prowess.
Catana Barnes is the founder and President of Independent Voters of Nevada.



My name is Claudia Arroyo. I am a Full Time Student from Bronx Community College and I am majoring in Psychology. I learned about your work from my Psychology professor Rafael Mendez. I am submitting my thoughts and questions about the writing $2 A Day on Extreme Poverty in America and will be attending the conference call on Sunday at 7PM.

Upon Reading $2 A Day it is interesting to know how close to home many aspects of this book touch upon. Either we have experienced many of these events ourselves or we know somebody who has lived through it or is going through it currently. There claudia arroyois so much struggle and trauma that the individuals mentioned in the story and those who encounter these challenges face everyday and must continue to live with it because it has shaped who they are. What stood out a lot to me was the story of Jennifer and her children. When living with family members it still wasn’t a positive or safe environment for her children. Little did she know the impact that this had for them, especially her son who suddenly became very aggressive and violent to the point where he harmed his sister. Even then his sister also suffered being molested by one of her own family members which forced Jennifer to flee with her kids to somewhere else she could call “home”, although it is difficult to consider a place home, when it isn’t yours and there is no stable settlement. With this we see difficulties of finding places to safely call home, especially with ones own family, they are the ones which can hurt you the most or even abandon you in your time of need. But because these events do have an influence to shape who we are, they certainly are not what officially determines the person we can be, as humans we are dynamic and constantly changing and have the ability to adapt and overcome.

My question to you is, yes it is already difficult to live in the U.S, especially in major cities like New York or Los Angeles, but how much more does the difficulty increase of sustainably living here in the U.S as a person of color, someone who is hispanic/latinx, or even outside of the U.S?

Thank you.

Sincerely, Claudia Arroyo



    My name is Madeline Manzueta and I am a student at Bronx Community College and here is my comment on the story.
    Poverty is something that is overlooked in this country. Congress doesn’t really care about the poor and their struggles. We see this in chapter 3, as Jennifer talks about her not being able to afford such a place like the one in which her aunt was letting her stay. I can relate to Jennifer because it is very expensive to live. In the Bronx a one bedroom apartment is now going for 1,400 which is impossible for someone with a minimum wage job to afford. They now have programs offering rent controlled housing for what they call “those with low income.” In order to qualify for these apartments you must at least have an income of about 16,000. The average poor person barely even has an income of 5,000 so how do they expect for us to be able to afford these places?



I just started the last chapter of this book and I am only now starting to see the organized

Ashley Bruno

outlook and commentary on what needs to be done to cure the “disease” of poverty, in addition to accepting the sad symptoms. With 20 pages left, I remember when I was only 20 pages in, still then naive to the wrenching reality of modern day poverty in America and how it would be illustrated in this writing. I really believed I would be reading a how-to-guide on living on almost nothing, as if there was an underground network of people administering tips and lifestyle advice on getting it done, against all odds, without criminal and dangerous activity and/or total dependence on an ultimately unalleviating and traumatizing welfare system.  I am glad to have read this book and been given a reminder, yet again, of what the collective mind set and experience is of the people who aren’t making it, where the cycle of poverty is like a chain that seems to be unbroken, as the closest thing to direct slavery, and actually still is in many ways, especially mentally.

The last few years, since I joined this network of direct urban humanitarianism and canvassed low-income housing buildings advocating for open primaries, I have felt the need to understand better the communities that are suffering the most, and why,  eliminating the “us and them” and completely eliminating the pursuit of “success” in a capitalist driven society that aims to keep the rich-rich, and the poor and ethnic in a box to provide for cheap labor, control, and pocketed subsidies, made on people, that should be going to the programs and the people themselves. The money exists! The gap, margin, and total imbalance in our demographic economy is so extreme, the outlook has become bleak! There are so many people caught in this cycle and they keep procreating in the most terrible conditions. This isn’t yesterday’s “third-world” problem, and this is not a television show. This is today and now. These family stories are just a few of the endless situations going on and all the people suffering, fearing being out in the divided world today, yet unsafe at home, or the bare survival of one.

I am truly amazed by those who are courageous enough to get involved and try to take these issues on, for I have made no difference and was starting to feel like I just can’t. I think of the serenity prayer. “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” I want to focus on that last chapter. I want it to expand. I believe that together we can create the how to guide, because essentially we need to.

This book is definitely not boring, somewhere in between a dramatic yet disturbing lifetime movie and an interview with the real life person behind the door of the NYC Projects buildings the day you stop in and say, “can you sign this petition if you believe in positive change and a fair system?”, wondering how many people live in there and why it smells like that.  I will aim to make the conference call, but I should be working tomorrow. If I change that, I will hear you all on the call. Otherwise you know you will hear from me; I appreciate this listen and learn.

Ashley Bruno is a volunteer with Independent Voting and Open Primaries.



What I’ve been thinking ever since I read this chapter is that while a lot of operations are trying to help families in poverty even when it’s rather difficult, there are at least a few operations that make things worse for these families. Poor people may not have hygiene because they weren’t properly taught by their families or that there wasn’t enough IMG_0286water. Families may go into poverty because the housing costs are too much for them to handle. When I read this chapter, it makes me think of a similar problem is happening in all apartments in the Bronx, especially in the South Bronx, because families will lose their apartments because of housing. I think it was an amazing decision for Kathryn J. Edin and H. Luke Shaefer to write how the family, especially Jennifer, will help Kaitlin to cope with the trauma of being sexually molested by Jose, since it shows that even or especially in dark times, some families can still support each other, since not all of them do. It kind of seems like people of poverty are victims of abuse because they’re easy targets. Why are poor people more likely to be subjected to physical, mental, and sexual abuse than people who aren’t in poverty?

Sage Sepulveda is a college student at Bronx Community College.




Readers’ Forum–Al Bell and Catana Barnes. P4P Call Tonight

Our final commentaries on EVICTED: Poverty and Profit in the American City are by Al Bell from Arizona and Catana Barnes from Nevada.

Dial in this evening at 7 pm EST for our conversation with the author of EVICTED, Matthew Desmond.  The call in number is 641 715-3605 and the access code is 767775#.


Al Bell (R) with Arizona democracy activists, Tim Castro (L), Patrick McWhortor, Amanda Melcher and Adriana Espinoza


Evicted is a story we need to know. It can only be known by living within it, not talking about it. Matthew Desmond knows and we are privileged to be exposed to that knowledge.

Your respondents have made the clear case that most of us have never had to face the life Matthew Desmond shared with us in Evicted. Many thing can be said of this powerful story. One of them is that, if one has ever lived in circumstances like those Mathew describes, his ability to convey what that feels like is exceptional, indeed. While our family was never evicted in the way Matthew depicts, I do remember living as a kid in a trailer camp where the four year old girl next door burned to death because she tipped a can of kerosene on a hot plate on the floor of the sixteen foot trailer her family lived in (same size as ours). When the trains roared by, a couple hundred feet away, everything shook and rattled. We were in our own world and the “other” world where real people lived was something of a mystery. The vast difference between that experience and those Matthew describes, however, is that we had a way out and it eventually worked.

Yes, housing does matter and we escaped owing to unique circumstances. The people Matthew writes about will never enjoy those circumstances as long as our current housing culture prevails—and probably not even if it changes for the better. Lag times and generational gaps are immense. Having spent 47 years in the community planning business, I could go on all day about the multiple dimensions of how the dice are loaded for people like those in Matthew’s book. You’re lucky: I won’t do that!

What is truly incredible about Matthew’s story is how he lived it himself—an act of commitment most of us would never contemplate, let alone carry out. This story reveals so much because it is told through the eyes of real experience, not vicarious tales. I was waiting through most of the book to find out if this is real, or some feat of imagination. Then came the last chapter and an avalanche of insight and revelation.

In contrast to most investigative reports, I spent a significant amount of time with his chapter notes. They could be a book all in themselves.

I know you will express our book club members’ gratitude for Matthew’s commitment to revealing reality by living it himself. That is true dedication. I have no idea how he did that and managed to live his own life at the same time. We are truly in his debt. His wife must be some kind of saint! You can certainly add my name to the list of appreciative and highly impressed readers.

And thank you, Cathy, for exposing us to this amazing work.

 Al Bell is an activist with Independent Voters for Arizona.

Catana Barnes

catana barnes speaking

Matthew Desmond’s Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City is one of the best books I have had the pleasure to read. The accounts of real life struggles brought me to tears more than once as I watched someone I know going through the very issues being faced in the book as well as the very real struggles I face myself. I was also struck by the number of societal pitfalls that ensnare those who are not fortunate enough to buy their way out of their plight.

I grew up poor, by all American standards, and have become even more impoverished throughout adulthood. As I was reading Evicted, I came to the realization that the lives of my children, many of my friends and I have been significantly influenced by the societal pitfalls Matthew Desmond alludes to in his book. Unfortunately, it appears that the societal pitfalls are becoming more expansive at the same time there is greater monetary reward for landlords.

One of the most striking chapters I have read so far is Chapter 2: Making Rent. I learned a great deal about the impact of corporations moving their companies out of the country in search of cheap labor as well as the impact of President Clinton’s welfare reform that took place in the early 1990s. I also learned that there are people who have had to and are paying up to ninety percent of their income on rent alone and the fact that laws and policies protect landlords and punish tenants.

Matthew Desmond does a superb job at reaching the conscience and heart of the reader. He also does a superb job at educating the reader about a highly destructive societal pitfall. As I stated previously, I consider “Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City” to be one of the best books I have ever read and highly recommend it to everyone.

Catana Barnes is the founder and President of Independent Voters of Nevada.


Politics for the People Conference Call

With Matthew Desmond

Sunday, October 23rd at 7 pm EST


Call In Number: 641 715-3605

Access code 767775#

Grassroots Nation by Catana Barnes

Today we continue our celebration of National Poetry Month with an original poem written by Catana Barnes from Nevada.



This great experiment referred to as Democracy

seized at dawn’s early light by patriots of hypocrisy

party lines drawn in the sand

choose a side or take a stand

grassroots nation seeking reform

survival relies on new ways to perform.


New_Catana_2a - Copy (2)Catana Barnes is the founder and President of Independent Voters of Nevada.



Our celebration of National Poetry month continues

throughout April with poems chosen or written by P4P members.  

Catana Barnes in the Reader’s Forum


catana barnes speaking

March 31, 2016

I found Chapter 4, “Gestures of Daring, Signs of Revolt”, from Lisa McGirr’s book The War on Alcohol to be very revealing. The chapter educates the reader to the fact that prohibition was about much more than just alcohol. Prior to reading this chapter, I was not aware of the fact that prohibition contributed to the rise of consumer capitalism, a new style of night life that changed cultural norms and laid the groundwork for the Harlem Renaissance. In addition, I learned that the failed experiment known as the 18th Amendment set into motion a broadened and fierce battle over civil liberties.

What I didn’t find surprising was that prohibition was spurred by a group of religious women seeking to put an end to what they considered degenerate behavior. On the other hand, I was surprised by the fact that the anti-alcohol crusade sparked the birth of the Ku Klux Klan and their grand war against that which they saw as a threat to the American way of life. Ultimately, McGirr notes how the overreaching government forgot one thing which was pointed out by an anti-Prohibitionist writer, “There is just one thing that the ‘reformers’ overlooked. They forget, if they ever knew it, that the ‘hunt,’ the ‘pursuit of the unattainable,’ is the most fascinating game in the world” (McGirr, 2016, p. 109).

I am looking forward to reading the remainder of The War on Alcohol and discovering what else Lisa McGirr has to reveal.

Catana L Barnes is the President of Independent Voters of Nevada (IVON).


Reminder: P4P Conference Call

with Lisa McGirr

Sunday, April 3rd at 7 pm EST

Call in number (641) 715-3605

Access code 767775#

First Impressions from Catana Barnes



The Notion Of Family by LaToya Ruby Frazier. pg 115: Momme, 2008


November 23rd, 2015

My “first impression” of Latoya Ruby Frazier’s The Notion of Family was how much it reminded me of the F.S.A. (Farm Security Administration) project.  With that project, which sought to garner economic support for various social programs in response to the Depression, the goal of the photographer was directed by those who sought specific economic packages from Congress.  At the beginning of the project, the photographers focused on the plight of people, with many people not being represented, and how much they needed help. It was then determined that the photographs weren’t showing enough of a positive outcome from the economic programs currently in place so the photographers were directed to show positive outcomes; with many continuing to be left out of the equation. What I find to be the most compelling part of the F.S.A.’s project is what they chose to leave out of their visual and historical narrative. What was left out is the fact that photographers, like Dorothea Lange, had no control over the narrative of the image, the photographer’s authorship and perspective, as well as which images would be used. The photographers were denied their role in providing their visual representation of the dire situation and the struggles of the people. This terrified me and made me question every single image I have ever looked at.  It comes down to the artifact; directed and undirected. Ms. Frazier, her mother and her grandmother took control over the authorship and perspective of their place in the history of Braddock, PA and, in my opinion, opened doors for further exploration with regards to the authorship and perspective in social documentary of photography.

In addition, I was stricken with how much I was reminded of Dorothea Lange’s images in her work as an F.S.A. photographer. I have always felt as though she had a special vision whereby she was able to see what needed to be framed in order to be compliant with the project while, at the same time, she was able to see what needed to be translated to the viewer…the ultimate message.  I did not study Dorothea Lange much beyond her contribution to the F.S.A. so I do not know what she thought about having to create directed artifacts. The notion of an artifact’s truthfulness is something I have put a great deal of thought into and what ultimately led to the motivation behind the photographic series I created as an advanced photography student (I received an Undergraduate Academic Affairs & Research Grant to complete the project and it can be found at ). Like Ms. Frazier, her mother and her grandmother, I also took control of the authorship and perspective of the photographic social documentary I created. I wanted to challenge the traditional notion of what a photographic artifact is, who creates the artifact as well as to challenge the perspective of the creator of the artifact. My project was greatly influenced by what I learned about the F.S.A. as well as what I learned through the work of Cindy Sherman and Nan Goldin (see below for a link to Nan Goldin’s work) whom I truly admire for their candidness.

catana barnes speakingAs I worked my way to the end of Ms. Frazier’s work, I also recognized a similarity with Nan Goldin’s work . Nan Goldin’s work is extremely poignant and draws the viewer into the world they are witness to. In both works, the viewer is presented with a question, “do you recognize this?” and then they must rectify, in their minds, whether or not they do “recognize that” which has been presented to them. I find the strongest messages to be found in what is not being directly addressed, and I see that twofold in Ms. Frazier’s The Notion of Family. This is one of the most compelling works I have had the pleasure of experiencing since my undergraduate studies as an art student!

“First Impression” – While I have looked through Latoya Ruby Frazier’s Notion of Family more than once, I wanted to share my first impression because I believe that it continues with the spirit and notion that first impressions are not always accurate.

Catana L Barnes

Catana Barnes is the President of Independent Voters of Nevada.


Politics for the People Conference Call

With LaToya Ruby Frazier

Sunday, December 6th at 7 pm EST


641 715-3605

Code 767775#

Catana Barnes on Independents Rising

Catana Barnes, President of Independent Voters of Nevada,  received an advance copy of Independents Rising a couple of weeks ago.  She couldn’t put it down.  I asked her if she would share her thoughts on the book.

Catana Barnes, President, Independent Voters of Nevada


Here’s what she had to say:

“Independents Rising: Outsider Movements, Third Parties and the Struggle for a Post-Partisan America by Jackie Salit is an intimate account of the independent movement that only an insider can provide. This book enlightens readers about the history, trials and tribulations and successes of independents as well as the continuing struggle for making lasting and meaningful reforms that empowers all voters. The stories about the grassroots organizers and organizations are very motivating and makes me proud to be a part of the independent movement.”

In the book, Jackie Salit writes about Catana’s work in Nevada.  I asked Catana what it was like to read about herself–

“It was a shock…. Gwen [Mandell, one of’s national organizing directors] had told me that I was mentioned in the book but she didn’t give me any clues as to where or in what context. I couldn’t believe it when I came across the section I was in. I didn’t think what I had done was noteworthy. I have so much respect for all of you and it means a lot to me that you all noticed. It’s ineffable how I feel!”

Independents Rising hits the bookshelves on August 7th and you can pre-order it today from your favorite on line bookseller.

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