Nickel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in Durham, NC

Nickel & Dimed: On (Not) Getting by in Durham, NC 
Presented by Project DEgree* at Durham Technical Community College
Spring 2011

The website was created by Project DEgree students at Durham Technical Community College in the spring semester of 2011. It is a tribute to Barbara Ehrenreich's book Nickel & Dimed: On Not Getting by in America. These pages contain our journey into experiential poverty through a project designed for an English & Reading class. They hold our hypothetical lives, jobs, struggles, and triumphs as we attempted to "make it" on minimum wage in Durham, NC.
In the 2010-11 academic year, students in the Project DEgree Learning Community at Durham Tech evaluated poverty from several angles. First, they defined what poverty meant to them (in non-monetary terms) by examining what was missing from their lives: education, support, family, stability, etc. They then spent a semester working through a process for eliminating that poverty.

Students then moved forward and began discussing financial poverty as a societal issue. They started analyzing life without basic necessities: shelter, safety, food, etc. Like they did for themselves in the previous semester, they began looking at how these dificiencies might affect people's lives. They discussed poverty versus unemployment, personal need versus civic duty, minimum wage versus living wage and many other topics that came up during class. Then, as a class, they read Barbara Ehrenreich's book. Like Ehrenreich, we wondered what it would take to survive on minimum wage. What process could we establish that would enable us to live happily and safely while working a minimum wage job?

Like Ehrenreich, students put themselves into the "field" to do research. Theoretically speaking, they tried to get by on minimum wage in Durham, NC. The pages that follow are their "experiences" living the life of the low-wage, low-skilled worker. Each page is devoted to one group's experience in the field.
*Project DEgree is a grant-funded scholarship program funded by the Gateway to College National Network. For more information about Project DEgree or Gateway to College, please visit