‘Poverty and Power’ – Using Narrative Change to Drive Policy Change

Posted by Spotlight on Poverty and Opportunity on January 16, 2024

In this Spotlight Exclusive we speak with Devon Gray, president of Ending Poverty in California (EPIC), and Jacob Kornbluth, Emmy-award-winning filmmaker, about their new documentary ‘Poverty and Power.’ The film follows the work that Gray and his EPIC team did to raise awareness and provide more economic opportunity to Californians. EPIC was founded and launched by former Stockton Mayor Michael Tubbs with the goal of advancing poverty legislation and shifting the narrative around how people in poverty are viewed. “We saw the clear examples of these bad narratives that we’re talking about—the idea that people are poor because of individual failings, that they choose to be poor, they’re lazy, they can’t be trusted with money, they’re addicted to drugs, etc.—play out in terms of the way that it impacts policy decisions,” says Gray.

The film captures six California residents from various communities and gives them the chance to share their stories while also challenging the audience to acknowledge assumptions about those living in poverty. Initially, Gray and Kornbluth were set to shoot a series of short videos for social media; that later snowballed into a short film due to the connections they were able to draw from each story. “And when we put them all together, collectively, you really see the interconnection of a whole bunch of issues from housing to immigration to access to benefits,” says Kornbluth.

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