Thursday, April 04, 2013

Building Local Global Connections

On Tuesday I participated in a Google Hangout, connecting with people from Europe and South America, in a discussion of mapping. Below is the video:

Since then two of the participants have written summary blog articles, which you can see here, and here, and many have shared ideas in this Facebook group.

I've been incorporating maps since 1994 in my efforts to support the growth of volunteer based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, so I have a pretty good ideas of the challenges we face in doing this work. I created the TALENT MAP below to show the range of different talents that need to be consistently involved in this effort, which can't be consistently available through voluntary commitments alone. Since I've not had the funding needed, my progress toward building this system has been fragmented and painfully slow.

I have used concept maps to visualize the ideas and strategies that would lead to better information, more people looking at the information, more people understanding the information, and thus, more people acting consistently as volunteers, donors, staff, media, political leaders, etc. to support the growth and constant improvement of mentor-based programs focused on expanding networks of adult support, and helping kids through school and into jobs, in high poverty areas.

This work cannot be done by one person, or one small organization. Much needs to be done, as this strategy map shows. However, it does not need to be done by people who all live in the same city or country. The talent map can be filled in by people from around the world who use help build and share the tools that achieve the strategy, and use the strategy in their own communities.

Many people already do this work. But most are disconnected, and there's few ways to know who does what. In 1998 a grad student from the University of Kansas reached out to me, and began presenting workshops at T/MC conferences in Chicago. In 2000 he wrote a grant proposal which I was able to get funded, to build an on-line documentation system that would enable people working on this project to document what actions they were taking, and to show what part of the strategy their action was focusing on.

This graphic is the home page of the OHATS (Organizational History and Tracking System). Each time an action is documented the pie chart changes. A system like this can educate people on actions they need to take to build a citywide system of supports. It can also give recognition to those who actually are doing the work needed. With each graphic you can click to a discussion page and learn more about the meaning of that graphic. You can also log in as GUEST and Visitor to read actions documented.

Unfortunately, we were never able to get repeated funding after 2000 to update the technology and train people to become recorders. By 2003 spammers were attacking so often few people were sing it. Then, in 2007 a volunteer from Baltimore and his company in India, rebuild the OHATS, making it interactive in ways far beyond my own visions. This demonstrates how people from different countries can use their time and talent to help each other. Since money was not available to do additional work, it also shows how the lack of funding and philanthropic investment cripples innovations like this.

By participating in forms like this week's Google Hangout I hope to attract more people who are interested in these ideas, and who will become partners, and recorders, to do the work needed to build, maintain and share these tools with others throughout Chicago, and the world.

You can read many other articles I've posted on this blog, demonstrating uses of maps. I don't think any city will ever have a strategy that reaches most of its poverty neighborhoods, without a map-based strategy like I've been trying to build. Thus, if your passion is to close the gaps between rich and poor, or engage your business and its employees in activities that benefit the company, your current workforce, and your future work force, let's connect and find ways for you to become involved....regardless of where you are located.

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