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May 15, 2017
How do you define poverty? Riley Howk, a high school intern at United Way of Larimer County started a photo series, “Perceptions of Poverty,” for her internship through United Way of Larimer County. She thought it would be an interesting idea to ask the people in our community what poverty means to them. Howk’s idea for the photo series was inspired by the Facebook page Humans of New York, but instead of asking people for their personal story, she is asking them how they would define poverty.
Howk is glad she was able to provoke people's thoughts on poverty because most people she spoke to never really thought of what poverty meant to them. Most of the responses were emotional - none of the answers related to the federal poverty level, which puts the household income threshold for a family of four at $23,000. She also thought it was interesting how different people's answers were based on their age and how everyone's answers were slighlty different from someone else's definition of poverty. Her vision for this project is to paint a better picture of what poverty looks like through the eyes of every day community members.
“I think people have a lot of different ideas [of what poverty is] and it was interesting to hear what different people think in Larimer County.” - Riley Howk.
Howk interviewed people throughout Fort Collins, Loveland and Estes Park. In Fort Collins she walked around Old Town, Old Town Square, and interviewed people at the Poudre Public Libary. In Loveland, she went to the famed sculpture park. One thing she said that was difficult while doing the interviews was people saying “no” before she could speak. “I think they thought just because I had a clipboard in my hand I was a petitioner or something,” Riley said with a giggle. The people she did get to talk with found the project really interesting.
“One lady started talking about how you can be spiritually poor, if they didn’t accept Jesus into their hearts, so I thought that was sort of interesting.”- Riley Howk
This show is the culmination of Riley Howk's internship for United Way of Larimer County. A senior at Fort Collins High School, she graduates this week, and plans to attend The University of Alabama to study computer science. She enjoys doing many things; she is on the track team, is in the symphony orchestra, and serves as the Vice President for both the National Honors Society and the Music Honor Society. Alongside school and all of her activities, Howk is a very successful photographer and business owner. She started her photography business last year, Riley Howk Photography; she takes amazing senior pictures, head shots, and fashion photos. Howk also did a photography project for a non-profit organization that fights human trafficking, A Face to Reframe.
United Way of Larimer County’s bold goal is to cut poverty in Larimer County in half by 2025. We hope that through digital storytelling like Howk's we open our community up to a conversation around poverty and invite everyone to consider their “Perceptions of Poverty”.
Riley’s Perceptions of Poverty photo series will be displayed at our State of Community event Thursday, June 29th.
Copyright 2015 United Way of Larimer County