Features by Middle Class Photo Project
I live in a suburban tract house furnished by Ethan Allen with my dog (and cat and kids half the time) and belong to a co-ed book club (see books). Pretty middle class, don't you think?
This is a picture of my back patio, with a family of stray cats I care for. It's the back patio of the first house I ever purchased. The cats get fed daily, because I have enough money and time to buy them cat food. For me, middle class means having not only enough money to pay the bills, but also enough to save and even indulge a little. And middle class, oddly enough, is cheaper than being poor. It's amazing how often poorer people get dinged with nasty little fees and expenses, or pay more for things like food and vehicles.
My wife and I have worked hard and sacrificed short-term gratification to ensure that we are able to live within reasonable comfort. We both worked full time jobs while pursuing advanced degrees, without taking on debt, which has helped us to improve our economic position and provide for the lifestyle that we desire for our family. We love to travel as a family and look forward to exploring new places each year. Middle class means being able to participate in activities that you enjoy whether it be travel or any other healthy activity. This photo was taken in Los Cabos Mexico during our family vacation.
This is a picture of the May Day Occupy San Francisco rally. This "Rise Up 99%" sun was painted in the middle of the financial district. Everyday folks were able to add their concerns and demands for our country by painting them on each of the sun's many rays. Things like "housing for all", "down with debt", "compassion", "solidarity", "love" and "equality" were painted around the sun, all middle class values and concerns. While I am comfortable enough in my life, I believe that the policies of our politicians, written by corporate lobbyists, combined with the effects of globalization, are shrinking our middle class and pushing more and more people into poverty while benefiting the few. Part of being middle class is representing and protecting those less fortunate than you from those who would like to take more than their fair share. Being middle class in America is a privilege, and with it brings responsibility to our fellow woman, our planet and democracy.
We are comfortable. My wife has a master's degree but stays at home with our four children. I am an attorney and work in politics in Oklahoma City. We have a used Honda Odyssey and a used Honda Accord, a 1,200 sq ft home, some savings and a 401(k). We eat dinner together every evening, go to church on Sunday, dine out on weekends and take a summer vacation. We could do better, but we could do a lot worse.
As a Vietnamese student, I feel comfortable with my life. I get just what i need, if not everything I want. This photo shows me enjoying my weekend with friends at a coffee bar.
I do not consider myself middle class at the moment. I moved in with my parents three months ago, so I can't put myself in the middle class yet. I look forward to gaining my independence, leaving my parents house and joining the real world as an artist as soon as possible.
This is a watercolor painting I recently finished. The piece represents the mental state of many graduates - high school and college - for the past three years. Many young people either find jobs they are overqualified for or struggle to find work. Whatever the scenario, this age group is weary and losing the confidence it once had in school.
Middle class to me means having choices. You have options. Yes you work for it, and yes, sometimes you're threadbare in areas of your life, but you choose where and when to have luxuries that are not even thought of in other countries on this planet. I worked a year in Haiti, and that was a choice. I choose now to work in flea markets and I enjoy it, though it is eminently slower paced than the medical field I used to be in. I choose when and where to shop. I have a car, that is middle class. I can take public transportation if I want to. I choose to be married. I choose a tree-lined neighborhood. I do not quite have a degree, but I am educated, and I represent those who have paid into the system all their lives since age 16 until age 53, and are now reaping the rewards.
The photo is of my mom's 80th birthday party last year, with all of her immediate family gathered to celebrate her at her home; 3 generations. Middle class means her generation and her children were able to get good educations and good jobs. We were all very lucky!
This photo is taken in the living room of a 1200 sq.ft. duplex in a middle income retirement community. My husband (he took the photo) and I are happy we have chosen this home. It is the culmination of a lifetime of plans and savings. We are able to enjoy a peaceful wooded backyard, an affable community and convenient access to healthcare.