Friday, June 21, 2013

Mobilize your community assets to fight violence

In the June 19, 2013 issue of Chicago's REDEYE newspaper, the front page story was "Life & Death on E. 79th" which according to the paper has been one of Chicago's deadliest streets over the past 4 years.  In the story was a map of the 2 block area, with an inset showing where this is in Chicago.

Using the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator's interactive map platform I created a map of the East 79th Street area, adding poverty overlays and overlays showing poorly performing schools (from 2008) in the area as well as any volunteer-based, non-school tutor/mentor programs (based on what I have in my database).  This map is shown on the left, below.

I also created a map of the second neighborhood mentioned as "tied with East 79th Street" for the most homicides since Nov.2009. That was the 1300 Block of West Hastings. This map is shown on the right, below.
In the two areas you can see different degrees of poverty, a few poorly performing schools, but almost no volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs. I created another map using the Chicago Health Atlas, to show the South Side of Chicago, and rate of homicides.

As I write this some faith leaders are organizing marches in Chicago to draw attention to violence. My goal is to show how they can use maps and the resources on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site to do planning that mobilizes resources to build and sustain non-school youth tutoring, mentoring and learning resources in these neighborhoods.

When we hosted the Tutor/Mentor Conference on June 7th, one of the speakers said "Think about it this way. Somebody will be there for the kids. If it isn’t the right somebody, there is a greater risk that those hooded guys on the corner also known as “the wrong somebody” will introduce them to the false courage or false bravado found behind guns and violence." Read the full transcript.

During the conference I shared some slides showing the number of youth below the poverty line, age 6-17 , living in each Chicago Community Area.  I encouraged participants, and I encourage people who read this article, to use the maps as a community mobilizing tool.

Using the Asset Map section of the program locator you can create a map image like the one at the left, showing assets in the neighborhood, such as businesses, faith groups, hospitals and universities. These groups share the issues of the neighborhood because they are part of it!  They should be part of on-going meetings aimed at building and sustaining a wide range of mentor-rich non-school youth tutoring, mentoring, learning, jobs and career prep programs.

The maps also show transit routes through the neighborhood, enabling workers from the suburbs to "drive by" poverty areas of the city. Marketing campaigns should attempt to engage these people as volunteers, donors, leaders, organizers rather than just readers of sensationalist stories in the local media.

If adults don't have time to try to understand the ideas on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site, why not enlist young people from their school, faith group or non profit to do this work. Here's a project that interprets ideas on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site, done by an intern working with me in Chicago. Young people in many places could be doing the research and learning that adults don't have time to do.

When the media do stories showing where poverty takes place there should be bye-lines pointing to places where readers can connect with information and with community organizing efforts that lead to strategies that build and sustain programs that compete for young people's attention and participation and help them better prepare to succeed in school and life.

When faith leaders do sermons connecting scripture and service, or when the do marches to protest violence, they should also point to web libraries and information like this, so more people get involved in supporting the growth of youth organizations in more places.

Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC can help you organize these meetings and learn to use the Program Locator and other resources on our web sites. Just ask for our involvement.   Visit other sections of this web site, our blogs and our Facebook page to find more information and get connected.

No comments: