Saturday, March 03, 2012

Re-circulating Good Ideas

I attended a Voices4Illinois Kids Count event Friday and received the 2012 Illinois Kids Count report.

The report contains essays from many leaders concerned with the well-being of kids. Several were on the panel of speakers Friday. I took notes of what they said, and I read through the report. Kathy Ryg, President of Voices, closes the meeting (and the Kids Count report) saying "in this pivotal election year, children need adult voices to speak on their behalf over the din of political rhetoric."

We need adult voices doing this every day, for many years, not just election year.

I have piloted the uses of maps because I feel that it's hard to understand data tables such as those in the Kids Count book. With a map you can create a story, like the one showing the 7th Congressional District. Using the interactive maps on the Chicago Tutor/Mentor Program Locator anyone can be creating maps to point more people to places where kids need help, and to hold business and other leaders accountable for how and where they help.

While the maps and charts are helpful and I'd like to see them integrated into the communications of all organizations concerned with the well-being of kids and families, they are useless if no one is looking at them.

I've been sharing ideas on this topic for nearly 20 years. I've created maps like this one of the 7th Illinois Congressional District, suggesting that voters should hold elected representatives accountable for how much they do to support programs in their district that improve the well-being of kids. I share these stories and show how maps can be used in pages like this.

Since I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 my goal has been to collect and share information produced by others, such as Voices 4 Illinois Children, so more people connect with that information and respond to what smarter people than me are writing about. We all want a better future for kids, but to reach our collective goal we need to be working in strategic ways for many years, as the chart above suggests. At the base of this chart is the work of collecting, organizing and sharing information that others can use.

I created this "network building" chart almost 16 years ago, to show how volunteers, students and anyone else who was concerned with kids could be passing on the information I share to people in their own networks, and could be hosting small-group discussions to help people understand and use this information.

I've been trying to find volunteers, partners and sponsors who would help me map the growth of the Tutor/Mentor Connection network since 1993 so that we could better demonstrate the impact from our consistent communications and network-building strategies, and so we could make our network more available to its members and to others who share the same goals. I have shared ideas about network building on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC web site and on

If we want to change the "public will" we need to get many more people personally involved. This means any leader who is already involved and sharing ideas in forums and publications and on their own web sites can integrate the maps, charts and ideas I've shared so that while I'm trying to increase the number of people looking at their ideas they are trying to increase the number looking at the ideas I share.

The result will be more people taking personal responsibility for how we expand the number of people who get involved and how this ultimately leads us to the future we want for our kids in Illinois and throughout the country.

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