It's nothing particularly new to say that there is poverty in Southeast Kansas.
Close to one in five adults and one in four children in Crawford County are below the federal poverty level.
But what could be new, if Friday's training sticks, is how officials and firefighters interact with those in poverty. The training is designed to help teach leaders the causes and "hidden rules" of each economic class, as well as the resources needed to escape poverty.
There were two trainings on Friday, both held at Pittsburg Fire Station No. 1.
One of the primary topics was the difference in the "mental models" of poverty (especially under $18,500), middle class (roughly $50,000) and the wealthy (roughly $100,000+). Those leading the discussion said that relationships is the mental model that drives poverty, achievement is the mental model of the middle class, and connections are the driver of the wealthy.
However, there are driving forces for each of those groups, too. For poverty, survival, relationships and entertainment are the top driving forces. For the middle class, work, achievement and material security. And the wealthy, according to the training, have driving forces of political, financial and social connections.
Because of these things, that affects the amount of planning a person can do. A person in poverty, leaders explained, plans for 2-4 days out. The middle class plans 2-4 years. A person in wealth, they said, plans two to four decades out.
"When you're in crisis constantly, you don't have a future story," said Georgia Masterson.
Leaders also explained the difference between generational, or long-term poverty, and situational poverty. Situational poverty can be caused by things like death, disability, disease or divorce.
"To move ahead, you have to give up relationships, at least for a time," said one of the training hosts.
But that can be tough, because if a person is in poverty, the question of who to call when a car isn't starting can be "AAA or Uncle Ray. And Uncle Ray is cheaper."
Ultimately, those training left with several key points for those attending the training. Those key points include not blaming the victims, refusing to support stereotypes and prejudices, addressing the causes of poverty, and recognizing that no one agency could do it all.
As for how to escape poverty, the answer is education and/or relationships with those who are not in poverty. That's why Project 17 is bringing the program Circles to Pittsburg, to help connect those in poverty to those who are not.