My name is Jessie Golem, I am a photographer, a writer, and I'd like to change the world.
On July 31st, 2018, Doug Ford and the Ontario Progressive Conservatives announced their plan to cancel the Ontario Basic Income (BI) Pilot, a bold social experiment put in place by the previous government to fight poverty.
When I found out about the premature cancellation of the Basic Income Pilot, my stomach felt sick - I'd been using BI to improve my life and plan for the long term. Ford's move was felt (appropriately) as a direct threat to my survival, the survival of 3999 other people across the Province and really, the future of our society. The data from the BI pilot was going to be used to fight poverty much more effectively than current social assistance programs can possibly do in our rapidly changing economy.
I needed to do something. I needed to send as loud of a message as I could, and the avenue I chose for that message was storytelling. I set out in search of my fellow BI Pilot participants and started photographing them. I wasn't sure what would happen next. The project quickly transformed into something more powerful and beautiful than I could have ever imagined.
Humans of Basic Income has received attention from all levels of Canadian government and from antipoverty advocates across the world. These photos and stories have been a catalyst in Ontario and inspired people to mobilize and push back against the Ford government. Advocacy is also taking place Federally to reinstate the BI Pilot and start new ones elsewhere in Canada. The photos have put human faces to a political issue and have reminded us that people are affected by politics, and when governments cut services to the most vulnerable in society, people suffer and lives are devastated.
I could not have done this alone, and the outpouring of support has been incredible. I have made so many friends who have helped me travel to the cities of Lindsay, Thunder Bay and Brantford to get more portraits, and travel around the province, sharing the stories and speaking at events, and now I need more help. Your support will help me continue to travel, print more portraits, and tell these stories to as many people as possible. Your support will also help fund a Humans of Basic Income book and a documentary.
Your support will help me make Humans of Basic Income my full-time job and it might help set the stage for a better future for all of us.