Saturday, September 01, 2012

Whole World is Watching Chicago - even if Chicagoans are not

In yesterday's Chicago SunTimes Neil Steinberg wrote a column under the headline "The whole world is watching -- even if we aren't." His point was that media throughout the world were looking at the violence in Chicago with "horrified fascination".

The point of his column was that too few people in the Chicago region living in neighborhoods beyond high poverty where most of the shootings are happening don't seem to care enough to get personally and emotionally involved in solving the problem. He concluded by writing "If blood on our streets doesn't bother us, maybe blood on our reputation will."

I've spent the past 20 years trying to increase the number of people who would become strategically and personally involved in this issue. I believe in volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring programs because they can expand the network of adults and learning supporting kids in high poverty areas AND because many of the adults who become involved build a deeper empathy that causes them to grow into greater involvement.

I know. That's how I grew from a once a week volunteer tutor in 1973 to someone who writes articles like this every few days. It did not happen over night. It's a process of constant engagement that transformed me over nearly 40 years.

On September 13 I'm going to be participating in a SEA-Alliance event in Chicago titled Next Generation in Social Enterprise. It will be connected via a live video conferencing format with the Social Capital World Forum taking place in Sweden. I created this graphic yesterday to illustrate how the goals of this event are to connect people from around the world with each other in an effort that leads to new ways to solve social problems.

I was contacted by one of the Chicago organizers a few weeks ago who did not know I existed until my name was found on the registration list for the Sept. 13 event. When it was recognized that I've been connecting on Facebook and Skype with the organizers of the Social Capital World Forum I was invited to give an introduction during the Sept. 13 event.

When Neil Steinberg writes that 'Chicagoans are not paying attention' I can attest to that from my personal experiences. If you browse articles I've written showing work I've done in the past Decade you can see that I'm focused on bringing people together and connecting them to information that can be used to build youth support systems in every high poverty neighborhood.

I've been trying to build support of business, philanthropic and political leaders in Chicago for the Tutor/Mentor Connection strategy for nearly 20 years. While I've connected with thousands of people and raised more than $6 million over 20 years to operate the Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program (1990-1992) and Cabrini Connections (1993-2011) and the Tutor/Mentor Connection (1993-2011) this has never been consistent money or more than pocket change in the third largest city in the country. Traffic to my network of web sites averages about 8500 visitors a month, but the number of leaders in Chicago who contact me each year to discuss ideas or provide their own support can be counted on one hand.

If you search the words "tutor mentor" or "Chicago poverty map" at least one of my web sites can be found on the first page. Thus, if leaders were encouraging followers to research roles of tutor/mentor programs, this information would be available to them. That does not seem to be happening often enough.

In my frustration I have been reminded of this section of writings from the Bible, under the topic of A Prophet Hath No Honour in His Own Country.

Thus, I decided long ago that if I can't find enough support in Chicago perhaps I can find leaders in other cities and states who might want to dig deeper into the ideas shared on this blog and the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site. Through the Internet I've stretched this outreach to the entire world. As a result I've had volunteers from India, Korea, Canada, Wisconsin, Kansas, Indiana and many other places take key roles in building the web platforms that I use to share ideas of how many leaders can work collectively to build expanded networks of support for youth living in poverty.

My efforts are intended to fill the nodes on this talent map, and this village map, with names of people and organizations who share the same commitment that I share in this strategy map.

Perhaps the attention Chicago violence is generating will increase the number of people in different parts of the world who look at the ideas I share and help me develop the Tutor/Mentor Institute Problem Solving Platform further. Or perhaps it will draw attention from leaders and partners in Chicago who are deeply concerned about our reputation in the world and the problems in Chicago.

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