This week I (Mattea Kramer, research analyst here at NPP) traveled to Washington to the Take Back the American Dream conference. What did I learn? I learned that the American Dream Movement is about Shannon McLeish and others like her. Shannon and I ate cheese quesadillas together on Monday night. Shannon has two daughters, ages 6 and 7. She and her husband are self-employed; she has a tiny editing business, and he sells things on Craigslist and eBay. They’re from Daytona Beach, Florida.
Shannon became an activist when chemical additives in her kids’ food made her concerned for their health. Then she noticed that social services in her area were drying up. She said the state’s Department of Children and Families had been reduced to computer kiosks at Walgreens, where residents can sign up for food stamps. Shannon has been organizing other Daytona Beach residents to demand that elected officials pay attention to problems in their community. A group of Daytona residents raised the money to send Shannon to Washington to attend the conference.
Shannon’s eyes lit up when I told her that she can use the NPP database to get information about poverty and unemployment in Florida and Volusia County. Throughout the conference, I heard activists like Shannon saying they need numbers to back up their arguments. Check out this week’s data story at the NPP database, in honor of Shannon.