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They enter core city within a city another in a series of programs focusing on the problems people and conditions of our inner cities. Today a discussion of the problems of the inner city homemaker as Ralph Johnson of WAGA radio talks with two Milwaukee county extension workers. You were both involved with the University of Wisconsin Extension in a cooperative effort with. The county of Milwaukee. What kinds of programs are you involved with here. Well I basically work with. People on the north side or the north inner core of Milwaukee in developing or making educational meetings for a variety of clientele. Headstart mothers. Young moms groups and we have some home making centers that we have developed where you anybody living in the immediate area geographic area can
drop in and be involved in a program and I supervise this program. We have four. Program assistance these are indigenous women who have been hired and a part time basis by the university and we have given them training and we supervise their activities there and a teaching level in these centers that are set up around the inner city. Now these centers are based and churches and with social service agencies that have some facility that they can lend to the program. And we travel we are in a different center every day and people know where we are and checked we have some women that follow us around from center to center because they're so anxious to finish a project. You know you have really a full time paid staff that you supervise as well as indigenous people. No no it's just myself and these. Well I have to program assistance and
then Geneva has to that she works with. And this is the extent of our staff in low income now in this office there are other professional people but they have other responsibilities. And the disadvantaged clientele group that we're trying to serve today have you work on the social side what you do is we have seven homemaking centers on the south side and these are in churches schools inner city development project and other centers Salvation Army. And wherever the people are. We have a center. We feel on the south side that we must place these centers within walking distance. Of the families big. And also a place that centers in organizations. To which they identify For instance if their children go to school they identify with the school. And if they go to a
Spanish American Center which we call Central Hispano America where the Spanish speaking Americans are identify with this place. And so we establish centers where the people are used to going. You know then the operation is largely connected with people of Puerto Rican and or take a Mexican background. Three of our centers service the Spanish American. And these are Mexican and Puerto Rican descent for the most part. There are some Cuban people but they have come to the area for different reasons than them and the Spanish American I believe do speak a Spanish or something you know I don't we have a program assistant who is Spanish American. And when we have classes and food strengthens we do have all of the recipes in Spanish and in English. And then the
the program assistant takes over the direction of the class and speak Spanish. Many of the people understand English but they prefer to speak in there. They're Spanish language. Do you have any classes in English for these people. Yes we we do it both ways we have it in English and in Spanish. In other words we always have the English on the page with the Spanish because it's a two way thing they sometimes learn to speak English by reading the English and hearing it spoken also. But other direct instruction or is this the extent of what might be called instruction in the English language. You don't have special classes in English. Well so the center is still but that is not under our. Direction. For instance the Spanish American Center has classes and all the other agencies
too many of them do have. English classes for the Spanish American. Probably you don't have the communications problem of not knowing the language in the north central area of Milwaukee but there's certainly a communications problem out there is not. Well we've learned a great deal. I've been they have this task for seven years now if I learned a great deal in communicating with the disadvantaged which is an entirely different frame of reference than the middle class. Everybody has to deal with. We have found through experience that we must meet people where they are and let them do the program and let them tell us what they want to learn because I might feel that they should learn something and they have no reason to use it or to learn it and so therefore we hit an impasse here.
So we have learned that the best way to do this is to me to get to the group. I get them together and have them tell us what they'd like to learn and then we can fists to implement what the program planning. But we've got to find out what's bothering them and what they feel are their needs. What is bothering them in order are the needs. Well number one they want skills this is a whole area that they have missed somewhere along the line. How I don't know I suppose many of them came from rural areas to Milwaukee and never had the opportunity to learn. So therefore they're terribly interested in learning the skills how to sew how to prepare food how to use many of the foods that they find in the markets here that they never saw before. I can think of one thing a plant just intrigues my ladies No I am because they just never had an opportunity to use it before and they always want a cookie plant. Amd EPP a same time then we can weave in some of the.
The concepts that we know are important such as good nutrition to weaving this into a food preparation class where we have can teach these concepts of what is a good meal. And it gives us an opportunity to teach a lot more than the participant in the program thinks they're getting but yet they're getting the media's gratification of what they want to learn. We've got quite a bit of interest going in home furnishings right now learning to refinish pieces that they have in the home or scouring the Salvation Army stores in the St. Vincent de Paul and so forth looking for pieces that could be refinished and be put back in the U.S. And again this is a skill kind of thing where many of the modern home makers are in our middle class society have long since left this business of skills
because they know them so well. These people this is a real new thing to them and an exciting one get a great deal of satisfaction for these sort of a home making skills the main part of your work or you get into the area of. Money management and consumer credit this is one of the jokes and so on. This is our wall and the end to the program as it comes out now for instance when we're talking about say that they come to us and say we want to learn to sell well before you can learn to so you have to know something about fabric. And you have to know something about pattern selection. And then you finally maybe the third or fourth lesson you get into the actual skills of sewing. Often we start with even having them do very simple things like make a apron or a scarf something very simple because there are many skills to learn in the area of being able to. So we go into if you want to go to this naturally leads us then
into if you want to go out and buy a piece of clothing what should we look for and this is another very good lesson and we often give subject matter and then go out on a field trip to a store and the stores have been very cooperative in letting us dragged things out and look at them for it so that they get a little experience and shopping with somebody who is knowledgeable and help to missed some of the pitfalls are Head Start parents have been very interested in money management. And we've been doing series with them. Budgeting and developing a spending plan because this is a new concept to me and record keeping is just a con totally new concept where did my money go the little I had and so forth. So there we end up all the way around the whole business of family living really. We may start out with food may end up way over in money management or
something else before we're finished. How many of the housewives are you working with. See Geneva we added up the other day and I think we have two hundred ninety seven women that are involved in one home making Center another are in one group or another that we're working with. Of this total you have any idea how many may be getting most of their financial support from either the welfare department or ADC. This varies on the south side. The A To my knowledge the people with whom we work are not aid. I would say that there would be an occasional case where they were getting ADC. Or something but for the most part they are not. But we take them we try to help the budget also. We take them and field trips to shop for foods also and go up and down the aisles without buying but
trying to save the pennies as they go up and down the aisles. How about on the north side. I would guess that the people were meaning of course we don't take any for I mean anybody's welcome to join the group but I would guess that most of our people that we're reaching to our home making centers are not welfare clients project off is dealing with the effort planted in this now that we have 3 extension home economist who are doing home management training classes with welfare clients and they're recruited by caseworkers and of course this is a much more identifiable group than the ones that Geneva and I are trying to reach. What the reason obviously was that was that I wanted to know if somebody was on welfare where their financial life was being controlled you couldn't very well teach you very much about consumer problems. Well but they still have to go out and shop whether they're on welfare are not they still have to be knowledgeable in the marketplace and. The better job you learn in the more money there is to spend. You know you can
reality reallocated to different things. So this wouldn't be a problem. And again we don't ask. We're glad to see any face that shows up at our center. And I have from time to time run into women who join our centers who have had to project off training so we do get them from that program too although they've had a lot of the material that we're teaching to in the centers. When you're teaching a housewife about food shopping or clothing shopping you go to a neighborhood store where she may have to go because she has no transportation. Yes we do it both ways. We go to a neighborhood store and we might go to a supermarket also to show them. You know the difference. But what is the difference. Well you mean the let me expand
a little bit I've heard a number of complaints which I have not been able to verify that particular in the inner core of the north inner core that food prices are somewhat higher and that the food quality is substantially lower than it would be in a suburb in a suburban market. I think this was true. There's been a lot of pressure now on this and I know that some of the big chains are very aware of this and are cracking down on it. They have found. I was speaking to one of the personnel man from one of the big supermarket chains and he tells me that they're checking this very closely now that this kind of thing shouldn't happen. So maybe something good has come out of a bad situation. Where did you put the limit on the local manager. Yes. And they the fact that he told me that there are about 90 items every week that they have to either be raised or lowered. And some managers just don't get terribly concerned about this. Maybe
they are about the ones that are raised but not the ones that are lowered. And so they're checking this very carefully and he told me that they checked this and if it isn't corrected they they give the man a warning again and then they move him out. He said it them so they're becoming very aware of this I've noticed lately that I felt that the supermarkets are trying to clean up their stores in the inner city and to put in better merchandise. And this is only become because it's been made public. I think that this is characteristic of a disadvantaged person that they don't like to make a fuss there. What should I say they're afraid to speak up. Many times they've been so intimidated and so frustrated so many times that they just are afraid to make a big fuss and so when you get a concerted effort as there has been this kind of
thing solves itself then there is a big difference between shopping in a supermarket and shopping at the little corner grocer and we try very hard to make women see this difference in the best way to do it is to do some comparison shopping let them find this out for themselves. You recommend that any of your clients show up at the critical years. Now we don't recommend it but we know it happens because so many of these people this is the only place they could get credit. Face it credit you have to be a pretty upstanding individual to get credit and sometimes they're forced into these credit clothiers we don't play. And we try very hard again to have them look at quality. Even our best shoppers in our society don't really know what they what to look for in quality. And this is something you have to be taught. To turn things inside out look at Sea
finishes and this sort of thing and why some of our So verve and housewives we could I think give them a few pointers too because this is a difficult area to know whether it is or whether it is quality that are the critical years in a so-so engineer. Yes there are some who describe this for some of our listeners who may not know what typical Milwaukee critical areas. Well it's a clothing store where they give tremendous credit. I mean you can buy anything on credit without many references. In fact they even go out the door and welcome you in you know in the circle step outside if you see somebody looking in the window and say well isn't entreating them to come in and shop. Is this a chain around or is it just a name that goes so-and-so has credibility and it's a pretty much a. Hormone kind of thing it isn't a chain. So the term critical here is not for a breakdown on a story you know this is the policy of the story and of course they're
very quick to garnishee them or you miss one payment and you're going to hear about it. And of course there's also involved a tremendous credit bust which I suppose if you're desperate for a winter coat and you can't get credit. And a legitimate source in your cold you're going to go to work that story. I think that we should mention that dinner homemaking Sanders we've had wardrobe clinics and many of our people buy clothing at thrift shops or at Goodwill some place that has good used clothing at a very nominal price. And then we help them make over these clothes for themselves for their children. We think that this is quite a valuable part of our wardrobe clinic's it's one of the things that they have asked for and even if we're making something new.
Invariably the ladies come with something old to remodel or to get help with replacing as it were or doing something in the garment. I think that. We. Certainly want to make the point that Barbara made that we do not go into these centers with preconceived notions as to what the people want. We try to program with them and I think that this is why the ladies like to come to the centers because they know that we're not going to force a program down their you know their throat so how just speak is the door to door salesman no problem to either of you. Or this is the women tell me that this is on the north side this is going business. And again it's a matter of developing some sales pressure some sales resistence.
I have had women tell me just fantastic stories of what they've been sold and things that I don't even think if they had the money they'd go out and buy him a star. But because he's so persuasive and they get get rid of him they end up signing the dotted line and this can really. I remember one woman I went to see who had just had a salesman there that morning and he had her some wall hangings. That was really quite garish. I don't think she really liked him very much but there they were and she was stuck with him. Bedspreads are sold this way. Pots and pans. There's And there's just quite a feel for this and I would have I don't know if the south side has it as much as the north side. Well I think there's a language barrier. On the south side in that the
salesman do not to go in this particular area around or at the National and around there because there are. Many Spanish speaking people there. I have heard of individual cases where a salesman came and they bought to sign their name and they didn't know what to resigning and so forth. So. I think that this is a problem in various areas where they do speak English but I don't think that the Spanish American is bothered quite as much because of the language. Another big one that we have is the food freezer plan there. And this takes a lot of education because there's something there's a status to having a home freezer and there's a lot of economics that has to go in explaining why or why not you don't get you get involved in this kind of a plan. What about life insurance is something I haven't talked with anybody about you know there's a lot of door to
door life insurance industrial life insurance. We've attempted to. Teach people how to read the life insurance policies they have. Many of them don't even know the kind of a policy that they are involved in and I think of one gentleman that I met in one of our library programs that had a policy an annuity that was going to pay $50 a month when he was 85 years old and he was paying through the nose for this thing and he was just horrified when he found out when he actually read the policy and saw what he had signed up for. So I don't think he's going to make it to 85 I don't think I'm going to take it. But if you have life insurance people in the U. Funny speaking here in the south. I wouldn't know too much about this because we talk mostly in terms of family living things like foods clothing home
furnishings and other things. We really haven't gotten into the money management angle except. The foods and clothing buying the husband does much of the shopping in the. The Spanish speaking families and the. We have done some comparative shopping and have paid 15 cents more a dozen for eggs for instance. But this is an individual case again. I really don't know about their life insurance is the thing. Geneva that is typical of your people is the strong male figure in the US and the Spanish American home. And he's the one that's going to. We're just so pleased that we can even reach the women because they have to have their husbands permission to come to a meeting. And many times the reason they've been allowed to come is because they've taken some goodies home with them and
father is now at how what they have learned at class and then he wants them to go back and learn some more. But he pretty much controls that scene which is not true on the north side where we have a matriarchal society. What is the average or is there an average age of the ladies that you work with. The newlyweds are is a very quote I know of no I would say that in our home making centers where reaching women 30 45 had started of course we do reach the young mother because this is designed for the mother but we've had them as old as well as our one lady Geneva seventy four wasn't she. And one lady and one of our centers. Remarkable woman and then we've had them as young as in their 20s but I would say at Cannes it's more in this 30 to 45 group I would say that it's a head start parents usually young and that in
the classes that we have that are that service a Spanish-American for instance at the Spanish-American center we have them from about. I would say twenty eight to 65. There are some older ladies who like to come to this center because they can speak with one another and enjoy coming to make something your particular operation here is funded partly by the university was constant probably by the county of Milwaukee and partly by the federal government. What particular federal funds are involved here. These are USDA funds United States Department of Agriculture funds and we have federal appointments both of us have federal appointments from the USDA. I take it there is considerable cooperation between you ladies and several of the other social agencies in the city. Yes we're very anxious and willing to work with any of the social service agencies and many times we can provide the
educational arm this is our main thing is to get him that education and many times the agency would be unable to provide this if they didn't have our resources. They provide the facility for the most part. There is a strange situation that I've heard of where there are. Some situation in which they might be with one family as many as 10 or 15 different agencies involved. It's like a person is going to die in different illnesses and it's 15 different doctors treating each for one of these illnesses as given to them. I think the difference here is that the ladies come to us because apparently no one else is servicing them. In this particular area. And. So I don't think that we have duplications of our efforts you think to be really valuing some consolidation of some of these agencies. I think this is been a while they've been and we've been aware of this in the Social Development Commission is certainly aware
of this at one time the man who was heading up the board. Had talked of trying to do some coordination I think this is desperately needed if we're really going to do an effective job and use our all our talents in the best way possible because this is true I know that. And one of our people told us that one woman had 18 different people coming at her door from different agencies asked telling her what she needed but never asking what she wanted. This is was her reaction to it. They all told me what I needed but nobody asked me what I wanted and I think this will have to come if we're going to really do an effective job we're going to have to work together and program together. I think that agencies when they do look to us for this educational
The inner core: City within a city
Shopping in the Inner City
Producing Organization
University of Wisconsin
WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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For series info, see Item 3596. This prog.: Interview with Milwaukee County Extension workers Barbara Rice and Geneva Erickson on the problem of shopping in the inner city and kinds of programs needed by inner city homemakers.
Social Issues
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Producing Organization: University of Wisconsin
Producing Organization: WHA (Radio station : Madison, Wis.)
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-34-10 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:28:42
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Chicago: “The inner core: City within a city; Shopping in the Inner City,” 1968-11-07, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed August 20, 2022,
MLA: “The inner core: City within a city; Shopping in the Inner City.” 1968-11-07. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. August 20, 2022. <>.
APA: The inner core: City within a city; Shopping in the Inner City. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from