Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Follow up to Chicago Violence - Map analysis example

The front page headline of today's (4/22/14) Chicago Tribune read "Drive by sets a tone of fear." On page 9 of section one the top headline was "U.S. attorney targets city's violence."

On page 16 the headline of the feature editorial was "Is Chicago helpless?"

I've been pointing to stories like this for nearly 20 years. I've also been piloting a use of maps to show how poverty and lack of youth support programs in these areas contributes to the violence. The map shown above is from the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator's interactive map. It shows the location of poorly performing public schools, based on 2008 information, and the level of poverty, based on 2000 census. It also shows existing non-school tutor/mentor programs, green stars, based on information in the database I've been hosting since 1994.

In June 2013 I created a series of maps showing Chicago Community Areas and the number of youth age 6-17 in each. I've been sharing this info in this pdf. This is a map of the area of the far South side of Chicago, just below the Hyde Park neighborhood and the University of Chicago.

Today I created a new version of this map, showing the poverty levels, and showing the location of Brownell School which was near where five Chicago children under age 16 were shot on Easter Sunday. This is what caused today's headlines in the Tribune, and probably other local papers as well.

Using the asset map section of the Program Locator, I created the map below. This shows faith groups, businesses, colleges and hospitals in the area around where the shooting took place.

Looking at this map closely, you can see that there are no tutor/mentor programs in the area (based on information in my database) near the school, and there are few assets (banks, college, hospital, faith group, drug store, etc.) as well. However, the area has two major arteries connecting the Chicago downtown business area with the far South Suburbs. Hundreds of thousands of people drive by this neighborhood every day and it appears that few are stopping to help.

I've suggested in many articles that youth in public and private schools, colleges and/or faith groups, as well as business volunteers, or political leaders, could be creating map analysis reports like this following every shooting, and following the annual report of poorly performing schools, or reports of workforce readiness concerns.

When the Chicago Tribune editorial writers say "Is Chicago helpless?" I say no, then I say, "but...."

I've been sharing map stories like this for almost 20 years but so far too few have seen them, and too few have offered their time, talent and/or dollars to help me maintain the map directory of programs and assets, or teach other people to create map stories. Until more people are doing this every day, even when they are not following a shooting, too few people will be mobilized to solve these problems.

Such groups could develop a much deeper level of understanding about the availability, or lack of, youth programming in the area, as well as assets who could be helping programs grow. They could be building an understanding of what political leaders are doing to draw resource into the area, or build coalitions working to support program growth. While violence moves randomly around the city, teams in every neighborhood hit by violence could still find ways to keep attention focused on their neighborhood every day, which is essential to building and sustaining any solutions to these problems. Interns have been helping me do this on a citywide level since 2005.

Browse articles I've posted since 2005 on this blog and on the Mapping for Justice blog to see many more examples of maps and visualizations that can be used to mobilize people to help youth in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and its suburbs. Or browse the articles I've posted on Scribd.com.

Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, Linked in and/or my forum on Ning if you'd like to help. We need more people creating map stories and teaching young people the power they have to use these to create better learning opportunities in their own neighborhoods, and I need help keeping the program locator available to Chicago and as a model to other cities.

I've been hosting a Tutor/Mentor Conference since May 1994 and always use this as an opportunity to show people how to use maps. The next is May 19. I'm looking for sponsors to help pay for these events and keep costs low for participants.

If you're interested in what I've been writing about, why not attend, and bring some friends.

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