Sunday, November 15, 2009

Ben Wilson memorial in Trib. Sports Section. Why so little change after 25 years?

After I read my Chicago Tribune today I intended to write a blog focusing on the lack of change in Chicago 25 years after the death of Ben Wilson in 1984. In previous articles I've created maps showing media stories. See one here, and here.

In writing these, I go to the Tribune web site to get links. When I opened the site there was a new headline, saying "Mayhem spreads throughout city overnight after meetings to end violence"

Why is this happening?

One reason is that we compartmentalize these stories. Yet they are part of a complex problem that needs many solutions, in many places, at the same time. The people controlling the main media don't use their stories to point people to "web hubs" where they can learn about the problems, and be part of the solutions. All of this is part of building public will to solve problems.

For instance, the sports section devoted a full page to the Ben Wilson story. But where are stories showing how athletes are leading tutor/mentor programs, or raising money to support one or more programs in the city? We provide examples in the articles El Da'Sheon Nix, former NU football player, is writing on his blogs. The media could find these and use the concepts in their own stories.

The Tribune devoted full page coverage two two related stories today. One was the Chicago Public Schools strategy to provide paid mentoring and other support to about 300 of the most at-risk youth.

Another was the CEASE Fire effort to get students at Finger to talk to each other.

None of these is posting to the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference being held this Thursday and Friday, Nov. 19 and 20. None are pointing at the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, which enables readers to see where tutor/mentor programs are needed, and what existing programs are operating, who also need funding in order to connect youth with volunteers and safe places and learning, so they don't become new kids on the CPS list in the future.

I posted an article from the Youth Mentoring Network of Australia's email newsletter on the T/MC web site this morning. It was steps programs who have lost funding, and are going out of business, should take to inform mentors and mentees.

We are still having this conversation 25 years after the death of Ben Wilson because the writers of all of these articles don't focus on connecting their stories to each other and the leaders in Chicago and the US and Australia, don't focus on ways to build a consistent flow of operating dollars to help constantly improving youth serving programs be in all of the neighborhoods where kids need this help, for dozens of years, not just for one workshop to get kids talking to each other, or for one intensive intervention with kids who are already well on the way to killing each other.

No comments: