Last Thursday evening, about 2,000 greater Clevelanders drove downtown to attend a free program at the State Theater, the largest of the old movie palaces now restored to become a theater district. The program was supposed to be at the much smaller Ohio Theater, but ticket distribution exceeded all expectations—for a book discussion. As the culmination of a region-wide One Community Reads project—a collaboration of all of the public libraries in Cuyahoga County and the City Club of Cleveland—author and Princeton University sociologist Matthew Desmond had come to Cleveland to present the book everybody had been reading, his 2017 Pulitzer Prize winning Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City. As I watched the crowd look for seats in the huge old theater, I was amazed that so many people had come to hear an ethnographer talk about poverty, homelessness, and eviction.
Desmond launched his presentation by…
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