Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Archiving discussions as part of knowledge-building process

Over the past few years I've written posts following the annual #onthetable event hosted by The Chicago Community Trust, in which people get together in small groups to discuss issues important to them. Last night a friend asked me if I knew of David Gurteen, while we were talking about the knowledge base I've been building since the mid 1970s. He sent me the link today and I took a look at the Knowledge Cafe's which David has been supporting.

As I've looked at these I have felt that something was missing.  Below are a few graphics that show my thinking.  The first is a planning cycle graphic which you can see in this blog article.

The #onthetable events and Knowledge Cafes would be part of the middle steps on  this graphic. At the left would be a knowledge base, including maps, that people draw from to be better informed about problems, and potential solutions, when they get together to talk.

If people come together without any specific issue in mind, the talk could be random and cover a wide range of topics. I use graphics like the one below to focus on one issue: How do we assure that kids born in high poverty areas today move safely through k-12 and post  high school learning and into jobs and careers and adult responsibilities?

I posted an article earlier this year showing the different components of this pyramid.  In the  middle of this the steps are "creating a better understanding" and "creating actions that support the operations of needed programs in all places on the map where they are needed".  These two steps would be well supported by #onthetable and Knowledge Cafe processes, if they were focused on single issues.

At the bottom of this pyramid I focus on the knowledge base, or library of information and ideas, that people need to use to expand their understanding of the problem and solutions.

I have been building a knowledge base to support this process since I started leading a tutor/mentor program in 1975. It's been growing on the Internet since 1998. This map shows the four sections.

I'd like to find concept maps and visualizations like this on web sites of people who are facilitating conversations and looking for solutions to complex problems.  In one section of my library I point to blogs written by many others, and to places like G+ communities, cMOOCs, etc. where people are archiving what they learn in events they are part of.

This archiving of information should be a regular part of the process, so that each future gathering and conversation builds upon what has already been discussed and learned by others.  The graphic at the right, showing a carrot, represents the ideas in a knowledge library. View this presentation to see my interpretation of this.

What do you think about this? Do you find many web sites where event organizers and discussion leaders are mapping their process and pointing to knowledge bases where people can learn more about problems they are interested in solving? 

Connect with me on one of these social media places or share your ideas in the comments to this blog.

Friday, October 13, 2017

Helping Youth Through College - Solving Other Problems

I attended the University of Chicago Urban Education Institute's To&Through Project's briefing this week and shared some ideas on the MappingforJustice blog site. I hope you'll take a look, and take time to get to know the information on the To&Through web site.

In my comments I emphasize the use of maps to show where schools are located, with overlays showing demographics of the neighborhood as well as non-school support organizations and assets, such as business, colleges, hospitals and/or faith groups.

There's a strong emphasis on collaboration on the To&Through Project site, engaging members of the community not just people within each Chicago Public School. That commitment is visualized with this graphic.

To&Through goals are visualized using a time line starting in 9th grade and continuing through high school graduation. The data on the web site for each school shows eight to 10 years of history, showing changes in student success and progression through school from year-to-year.

I use a different set of graphics to show the long-term support kids need, starting as they enter school and continuing past college and/or vocational school, and leading to jobs and adult lives free of poverty.  I use geographic maps and concept maps to emphasize the need for great support systems in every neighborhood. 

I created the graphic below today to illustrate that the commitment, and actions, leaders need to make and take to help youth move through school to adult lives is the same commitment needed if they were focusing on other issues.

Let me break this down for you.  Below is the strategy map shown in the upper left of this graphic. In this blog article I describe this vision and the information shown on this map. 

If you open the links under the yellow box at the top left on this map you'll find a village map, which emphasizes the need for leaders in business, religion, higher education, hospitals, media and other sectors to adopt this commitment and help Chicago's kids grow up safely and thrive as adults.

However, there are other causes people care about, and similar commitments are needed in each issue area.  On the graphic I show above I've enlarged the left part of the Race-Poverty map shown below.

Race-Poverty Cmap - 
Every node on the map represents a complex problem affecting how kids perform in school and affecting people in many parts of Chicago, the US, and the world.  Someone could create a "my goal is" strategy map similar to mine, to show their own vision of steps to reduce these programs and they could share that map on blogs, the same way I do.

In every one of these areas, the "what do I know" and "where can I find more information" and "who else is working on this?" questions are being asked.  In the graphic I started with I show another concept map in the lower left, pointing to a four-part strategy. You can see the map below and find a description in this article.
I have a link to the To&Through project in the research section of the web library I've been building for more than 20 years.  Tha's all part of step 1 of this strategy map. I constantly add new links to the library because new information is being generated all the time. Navigating this is a huge challenge.

To help more Chicago students move through school, college and into jobs and careers many more people will need to dig deep into this information and find ways they can offer time, talent and dollars in many places.  That's step 2 and step 3 on this 4-part strategy.  Too few focus on these steps.  

Step 4 uses maps showing where help is needed, where schools and non-school organizations are located and seeks to motivate on-going actions that draw talent, attention, ideas and dollars to each area of the map where indicators show more help is needed. 

So that leads to one final graphic for this article.  Daily media stories and social media posts remind us of tragedies affecting lives of Chicago youth and families. When people read these stories there are steps they can take to be part of solutions. the ENOUGH graphic is described in this article

Would be great if someone would create a data entry form where people could document good deeds and actions they take, and code them by one of the steps shown on my graphic, as well as what address or neighborhood on the map was intended to benefit. Such maps could be on many web sites documenting who's involved and what they are doing and helping people who are involved find and collaborate with each other. 

Thanks for reading.  If you are interested in these ideas I look forward to hearing from you.

Sunday, October 08, 2017

Solving one Problem Leads to New Problems to Solve - Visualize This

I've been trying to visualize an idea and hope others will help. In a problem solving cycle people get together to solve a small problem, but find there are other things they need to do to solve that problem, so they reach out for more people and ideas. As they continue to solve the problem, they find more and more challenges. Soon they are thinking of things they never thought about when they first got together to solve what they thought was a simple problem. 

If you want to dig a little deeper into this idea, read this article titled, "The Cyclical Process of Action Research".

Image from Pinterest
In my mind I see a pebble thrown into water, which creates a ripple around it. As the problem gets bigger, the circle of ripples reaches further.  I did a Google search for words "pebble in water ripples" then looked at the images. There are many, each associated with web sites where other people are thinking of this idea and writing about it on their own pages.  Plenty to look at.

I created a concept map which is shown below. You can see it at

That did not feel right to me, so I use PPT to create the visualization shown below. We start with wanting to connect a youth with a volunteer and over time we're looking at how these programs are inconsistently supported by current philanthropy and government funding processes. Thus programs have trouble becoming great, then staying great over many years. Cities have trouble making needed programs available in all places where the maps show they are needed.

Note that at the far lower left, I focus on "public commitment".  One of the problems I and others have is attracting viewers to places where we share our ideas, like this blog, and places where we can get to know others who are concerned with the same issues.

If you're a visual thinker I encourage you to create your own interpretation of this process. Or if you know someone who already has done this, please share the link or visual as a comment.  While I found many articles in my "pebble in water ripples" search, I'm not sure how many, if any, focus on the same problem I'm trying to visualize. 

How can we do this better? Today's article, and others written since 2005, like this one, all seek to engage more people in creative thinking based on on-going learning, aimed at building and sustaining school and non-school systems of support that help kids living in urban, and rural, poverty move safely and successfully through school into adult lives 

I hope you will pass this on and that you're part of a team of people who are exploring these ideas. 

Connect with me on one of these social media spaces, and if you're able and willing, add your financial support to help me do this work.

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

Don't drive by poverty. Get Involved!

From 2008 to 2010 the Tutor/Mentor Connection (T/MC) was able to employ a part time GIS specialist, Mike Trakan, who created maps for me, and wrote blog articles showing the content of the maps and how they could be used. 

In 2009 Mike created two maps that he showed on the MappingforJustice blog. One shows Metra Commuter Rail Lines leading through the city and the other shows CTA lines.

On Mike's blog he emphasized how people who work in the city and live in the suburbs, or who work in the suburbs but live in the city, pass through high poverty neighborhoods every day. His message was that volunteers can use the maps to determine locations of tutor/mentor programs where they can spend a couple of hours a week enriching the life of a child, and themselves, instead of fighting traffic.

His message is "without volunteers, there are no programs."

I want to encourage a deeper level of thinking. The people taking a commuter train or a CTA train or bus through these neighborhoods are often people who lead companies, write news articles, or have been blessed with a great social network that enables them to have a house in the suburbs, or on the Gold Cost, and maybe another in Wisconsin or Michigan. These people are still working. They have jobs. They have the ability to point dollars to programs in high poverty neighborhoods. They have the ability to encourage others to be thinking of ways to help tutor/mentor programs grow in Chicago.

As you're reading your paper the next time and following a story like the one I keep pointing to from the 1992 Chicago SunTimes about the shooting of 7 year old Dantrel Davis, I want these people to be looking at Mike's maps, and thinking, "without operating dollars" there are no programs. Or "without advertising to attract volunteers or donors" there are no programs.  Or "why aren't there more programs in the South part of Chicago, or the suburban areas with growing poverty?"

As people who can offer leadership, philanthropy, and jobs programs begin thinking of ways they might help tutor/mentor programs grow, they can use the business mapshospital maps, or the faith group maps  that Mike created between 2008 and 2010, to determine what neighborhoods they want to support, and what programs in those neighborhoods they want to support with annual donations that start now, and repeat each year for the next 10 years.

The financial melt-down that started in 2008 had a huge  negative impact on the Tutor/Mentor Connection. We started developing the interactive map-based Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator in mid 2009, using the same $50,000 gift that we used to hire Mike, but when this gift did not repeat, and other funding dried up, we were not able to finish the work we were doing.  We could no longer pay Mike by late 2010 and he left our staff. Then in 2011 the Board of Directors voted to cease support for the Tutor/Mentor Connection completely, and in a staffing agreement with the Board,  I resigned and created Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, to try to continue the work of the T/MC under a different financial structure. 

Since 2011 I've continued to add articles to the MappingforJustice blog, using the Interactive Program Locator to create map stories, and pointing to mapping platforms being created by others in the US and around the world, which can also be used to create map stories.

So far, I've not succeeded and the Program Locator census, schools and boundary data has not been updated since 2010 and the info on programs has not been updated since 2013.  While I keep looking for partners, investors and volunteers to help me with this work, I also look for others who agree with the vision and information-based strategies I've developed since 1994 and want to partner and help re-do the T/MC with new technology, ideas, resources and energy.

The problems of 1993 are still with us in 2017.  If you'd like to connect with me, find me on one of these social media sites.

Sunday, October 01, 2017

Planting Seeds. Nurturing Growth

Last week my #clmooc friend Simon Ensor, a professor in France, posted article with title of  "Seeds for Change".  Then, Terry Elliot, another #clmooc friend, who teaches in Kentucky, took time to re-mix Simon's poem, using Lumen5.  See it here.

This kind of reading and remixing is what I encouraged interns to do between 2005 and 2015. On this site you can see five pages of their work.   This is something I encourage anyone who reads this blog to do.

Simon's article prompted me to search this blog to find any articles with the "planting seeds" theme. I found one from December 2012 that had many broken links. So I decided to rewrite it. 

Above I show one of the graphics that was the first frame of an animation done in 2011 by In Hee Cho, an intern from South Korea. It shows how a volunteer grows into a leader as they stay involved in a tutor/mentor program over many years. You can view the video at this link.

My own growth illustrates this. I started tutoring in 1973 when I joined the Montgomery Ward Corporation as an advertising copywriter. I became the volunteer leader of the company program in 1975 and for the next 42 years I've spent time every day trying to figure out ways to attract youth and volunteers and keep them engaged. When I left Wards in 1990 I also had to figure out ways to attract donors and keep them engaged, too, to pay my salary and to pay others who became part of our staff. The original program did not need to worry about this because I and other leaders had full time jobs. We could afford to lead the program as volunteers. This map shows my journey over the past 42 years.

To do this I've tried to educate volunteers, youth, donors, and every other stakeholder by pointing them to information showing where and why tutor/mentor programs are needed and to stories showing the impact of these programs on the lives of kids and adults. This video from the program I led between 1992 and 2011 that tells this story.

For those who read the Bible, I would like to compare my work to the Parable of the Sower from Matthew 13 in the Bible.

Over 42 years I've spread many seeds inviting current students, volunteers and others to spread the word, inviting others to become involved as tutors, students, leaders, donors, advocates, and have tried to nourish them weekly so that some take root and grow.

I met a young man at the Chicago Police Department a few years ago who told me he had used the  Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator Maps in a college research project, to demonstrate the need for more youth programs in the Englewood neighborhood of Chicago. That's an example of the seeds beginning to take root. A few years ago I received a $2,500 donation from the Women's ProGolf Association. By tracing the donor in my database I found it was a person who I had first started sending newsletters to in 1994. He had changed jobs but it was not until many years later that he could provide financial support.

On this page I've posted a few messages I've received from former students, telling of how the tutor/mentor program has impacted their lives.  In this article I show "thank you" messages posted by students and volunteers on a 22x28" card given to me in 1990.

Thousands of seeds have been planted. Every time I send a newsletter, such as this one, I'm asking people from my past, and who I meet every day, to become active in supporting the work that needs to be done in Chicago and other cities. Every time someone has visited this blog or one of my web sites since 1998 a seed is planted.

I created this concept map a year ago to show how friends in the #clmooc network and others have been passing on ideas from this blog to others.  That's another example of how the seeds I plant are spread, and how I try to nurture and encourage this. 

You've heard the phrase "It takes a village to raise a child".  My vision is that people in every sector would be adopting ideas I share on this blog and would be re-mixing them, and sharing through their own media, with people in their own network of influence.

View village map
As some of these seeds take root we should be able to show links in every node on this map, pointing to blogs and web sites of others who are working to support the growth of volunteer-based, non-school and school-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in every high poverty of Chicago and other cities.

We should be able to point to businesses and foundations who are providing talent and financial support to help these programs grow, and, to help me continue to spread seeds and nourish their growth.

I'm not a non-profit, so you cannot get a tax deduction for helping me. If you want to help me continue to plant and nurture these ideas and spread them to more places,  click here to add your support to Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, which has kept the Tutor/Mentor Connection resources available since mid 2011.

While I need your help, so do many of the tutor and mentor programs operating in Chicago. Click here to find a list of tutor/mentor programs in Chicago that you can choose to support even if you cannot support my own efforts.

Thanks for reading. Now, go forth and multiply.

If you're creating re-mixes of my articles or presentations just include a link to my site and send me a link so I know what you're doing and can share your work with others.