I heard Dr. Putnam speak in Chicago a couple times in early 2015 and wrote a series of blog articles, starting with this one.
I have been using maps since 1993 to focus attention on all the places in Chicago where poverty creates unequal opportunities for the American Dream so the case made in Dr. Putnam's book is nothing new to me.
I spent time in the past week reading through The Opportunity Gap, to see what ideas were being suggested for closing the gap. It's over 70 pages of text with lots of ideas. My first thought was "Who's going to read this?"
A few years ago I read a book titled "Uncharitable" by Dan Pallotta, which challenges the way non profits are funded and offers suggestions of different paths. I spent some time creating a concept map, to outline chapters in the book, hoping people would use this as a study guide. I also wrote a series of blog articles, applying these ideas to the youth tutor/mentor sector, which I feel is a strategy that should be considered not just for the impact well-organized tutor/mentor programs can have on kids, but on how they might involve more adults. After his TED talk, I updated the concept map to point to places where people were talking about his ideas.
I sent an introduction to The Saguaro Seminar, and posted a message on Dr. Putnam's Facebook page, encouraging them to do the same to help people dig through the book and the ideas in The Opportunity Gap white paper.
Then, I went ahead and created a concept map, that I'm showing below.
This map is a starting point, that people at Harvard, or any other university, high school and/or civic organization, could use to build their own study guide as part of an on-going effort to get more people involved in actions that make opportunities available to k-12 youth and families now living in the high poverty places that Putnam and others describe in their writing and research.
On the left side of the map I focus on the book, and the white paper. I don't know of a place that I could point to with links to specific chapters, but someone else could provide this.
On the right site of the map I point to sections of my own web library, with links to hundreds of other web sites with information that learners should look at, including information about challenges facing non profits who we're asking to do much of the work. I also show examples of data maps, and of ways maps and network analysis could be used to show who is joining in this effort.
One of the organizations I point to is the Community Commons web site, which is a resource many could use, and a model of telling map stories and focusing attention on others, that I feel many could duplicate. They create maps such as the one at the left, showing faith groups in the Chicago region. And they create map stories, such as this, showing how leaders in the St. Louis area are responding to the 2014 Ferguson riots.
I dug a bit deeper into this story, and took a look at the web site of For The Sake of All, which is a multi-disciplinary project focused on the health and well-being of African Americans in St. Louis. I really like the ways that they are breaking down segments of their report and featuring them on the web site. I think others could duplicate this to help learners dig deeper into their own publications.
On pages 56 and 56 of The Opportunity Gap, I found this message: