Dave Scott

When it comes to fighting poverty, author Ruby K. Payne thinks the more voices the better.

Payne, who helped create the national Bridges Out of Poverty program that has helped more than 500 people in Summit County, addressed the United Way’s Power of the Purse luncheon Thursday at Quaker Station in Akron.

She cited four popular beliefs about the causes of poverty:

•?Individual behaviors and choices, including work ethics, family decisions and spending habits.

•?Human and social capital, including the availability of jobs, skills and a decline in morality.

•?Exploitation, such as drug trade, racism, sex trade and payday lenders.

•?Political and economic structures like globalization, job loss and the decline of unions.

“If you are on the political right, you believe it is about individual choices and jobs,” Payne said. “If you are on the political left, it’s about exploitation and economic systems.”

She told about 650 people at the luncheon they need to look at all four perspectives — and more.

“These four things together create a way of thinking about your world that you carry with you,” she said.

She said that to be effective, communities must listen to and respect the viewpoints of all groups, not just traditional sources of leadership.

“Part of what makes a community work is the understanding in the differences in thinking,” she said. “Another thing that makes a community work is when people are brought to the table from each class, from each race so that there can be discussion, so that better solutions can be found.”

She said Akron is well on the way to facing those issues.

“I travel a great deal, and I am impressed with your community,” she said. “When you have a downtown like Akron has, you don’t see that lots of places, and that tells me you have a community that works together.”

The Bridges Out of Poverty takes a deep look at the cultures and economic issues that create poverty and gives practical instruction for how to overcome them. It also includes programs for people who serve the poor and people who want to serve as “allies” to those looking to escape poverty.

For more information, call InfoLine at 330-376-6660 or 888-212-5041.

The gathering also honored Rebecca D. Considine as 2013 Barbara Mathews Woman Philanthropist of the Year for her work with the Rebecca D. Considine Research Institute.

Dave Scott can be reached at 330-996-3577 or davescott@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow Scott on Twitter at Davescottofakro.