Thursday, March 31, 2011
Since 1994 I've been trying to find ways to use maps to show where poverty is most concentrated in Chicago in order to motivate leaders to on-going build strategies that draw volunteer and donors and technology to tutor/mentor programs in high poverty areas. I've not been able to gain much traction on this since I've not found the philanthropic capital needed to build my organization's capacity.
Yesterday I came across this article titled "The 10 most segregated urban areas in America". Chicago is 3rd. Milwaukee is 1st. Detroit and St. Louis are also in top 10.
Because of the size of these cities, the impact and isolation of segregation is greater, the bureaucracy of schools and cities is larger, thus less able to get everyone working on the same strategies, and the geography is larger, meaning it is more difficult for people from beyond poverty to connect in on-going ways that build relationships, understanding and expand social capital and resources available to high poverty areas.
Thus, the problems of big urban areas are different from those of smaller cities and rural communities of America. We use the same words, but our understanding of the meaning of these words, and strategies to help the poor, may be different.
To me this means that groups in the top 50 urban areas of the country, perhaps the world, ought to be working together to build poverty maps and program directories, and advertising campaigns to draw volunteers and donors to places in neighborhoods that create bridges connecting the community to outside ideas and resources.
Programs like Cabrini Connections do this. I posted a video a few days ago showing how tutor/mentor programs are a format for collective action. They can do this we can inspire leaders to use their own visibility and bully pulpit to build attention and draw daily resources to all of these places.
Without the maps this is almost impossible.