A blog from Jayden Soroka.
In September of this year I had a living estate sale. Basically, I went around my house and sold off everything I didn’t need or use on a regular basis.
Why did I do this? Over a year ago my friend Vivian and I started a campaign to recreate a guaranteed income experiment, called Mincome, that happened in the 1970’s in Dauphin, Manitoba.
Mincome was a pilot project that gave 1/3 of the population of Dauphin enough funds to live above the poverty line for three years. At the end of the program, all of the data collected during the project was boxed up and put away into archives and ended up sitting there untouched for over 30 years. It wasn’t until recently that Evelyn Forget, a professor from Manitoba, was able to access the information and share with Canada (and the world) the positive and almost unbelievable outcomes this experiment had in just three short years.
Two winters ago I read an article a colleague wrote, entitled “the town without poverty.” This story, written by Vivian Belik, had the most views of any article in this site's history. It was then that Vivian realized that this was a story people cared about. After reading it, I felt the same. I had worked in the film industry for over a decade, heavily in documentary, but had made a vow to never step back into that genre. However, this story and the research that came out of Mincome, made me feel something I hadn’t in a long time. I wanted to help tell this story. I wanted to make this film and to share it with as many people that would listen.
Photo by Flickr User woody1778a
I had worked in the film industry for over a decade, heavily in documentary, but had made a vow to never step back into that genre.
It has been almost two years that we've been working on this project, trying to push the concept to broadcast. We've made many trips to Dauphin, where the Mincome experiment took place, to meet the people that received guaranteed income and to see what the town without poverty looked like now. If you rewind back 40 years, Dauphin was a different place. It was just starting the pilot project; within three short years the city transformed itself. Domestic assault and petty crime dropped and high school graduation skyrocketed. However, the most notable change was seen in healthcare. By the third year, the hospital had almost 10% less visits than previous years. People in Dauphin were healthier and happier, and the city saw a hopeful future. Fast-forward to today and Dauphin has slipped back into the poverty-stricken town it once was.
Domestic assault and petty crime dropped and high school graduation skyrocketed...By the third year, the hospital had almost 10% less visits than previous years.
This past year Vivian and I, under the name Flat Tire Films, have partnered with Buffalo Gal Pictures, a production company from Manitoba who believe in the project as much as we do. But soon after, we were all struggling with how to best tell this story. Dauphin is an amazing part of Canadian history, but we lacked content, stock footage and media to really tell this story properly. We went back to the drawing board and started sharing the idea with colleagues to better portray this story. Very quickly, we understood that we needed our audience to connect with our characters, which is hard to do with a program that is 40 years old. We realized that we that had to re-create the experiment today, to find families and people who are struggling to survive under the poverty line right now and give them enough funds to be out of poverty for an entire year. These are people who are working and who are really trying, but still can’t break out of poverty.
This is no small feat as we need to find the funds ourselves. Non-profits like United Way and others can’t just give people cash. If we wanted to do this, we would have to do it on our own.
These are people who are working and who are really trying, but still can’t break out of poverty.
We figured out that we would need to raise $40,000 - $50,000 to make this experiment work. This is when I came up with the idea to do the living estate sale. What it really came down to was that I whole-heartedly wanted to sell off everything I had that I didn’t need or use anymore. The best part of this is that I get to put those funds into something that I believe in, something that truly has worth.
We had the sale - and the response we had was amazing. I sold a truck, skidoo, canoe, computers, mountain bike and a whole bunch of other stuff. People from Whitehorse, the community where I live, came out in force to donate items for us to sell for the project. Friends brought enough coffee, cookies and brownies to feed everyone who came out to the sale. It was an amazing moment for me, one that I will never forget; I haven’t felt that good about something in a very long time.
It was an amazing moment for me, one that I will never forget
As of right now we are just about half way to funding the experiment, and we are currently working on a crowd-funding site and website for the project. Once we finalize our development financing, we will be heading out to communities and cities to find families and participants for the film and online presence.
I would like to thank Upstream for their support of this project, we truly appreciate the help and advice. I would also like to thank Vivian for her hard work on this project and keeping me true to the cause. And lastly, I want to thank Debbie Oliver for being my inspiration and the compass that helped me find a way to make a difference.
A note from Upstream: We are so excited to come alongside Jayden and Vivian, and the others already involved in this project that truly employs upstream thinking. We will be sharing more stories from both Jayden and Vivian through the final funding stages, their search for participants and during the year project is running. We also look forward to sharing a different perspective - from the families and individuals who will be participating in this new Mincome project.
If you'd like to support this project, you can get in touch with Jayden at firstname.lastname@example.org