Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Connecting Networks, Reducing Silos

I read a blog article by David Wilcox today, written following his participation in the 2013 the Council on Foundations in Chicago, the World Healthcare Congress in Washington, D.C. and the Skoll World Forum on Social Entrepreneurship in Oxford. The title was "Changing Business As Usual: 3 Questions for Non-profit & For-profit Innovation Leaders". The overall theme of the article was "how can we come together, connecting for profit, non profit, policy makers, innovators,etc. to share ideas and bring needed social change to more places where help is needed?"

I've written about this often, in articles like this April 2012 Connecting Networks-Opening Silos article.

I've used versions of this graphic in many articles, showing the role of intermediaries who collect and share information, such as the Tutor/Mentor Connection Library and Tutor/Mentor Program Locator database. This article illustrates a four-part strategy based on collecting and sharing information with growing groups of stakeholders.

Collecting this information is one challenge. Getting people to look at it is another. As you can see from this December 1994 Chicago Tribune article, I've focused on building public awareness as one of the core strategies of the Tutor/Mentor Connection since the beginning.

However, I've never had money for advertising. Much of the media attention I was able to generate in the 1990s was due to pro bono support from 1993 to 2001 from Public Communications, INC, a PR firm in Chicago. Without money for advertising and/or professional support, I've used the Internet and social media, including this blog, to try to share ideas with more people. Yet, there are many who do not support this strategy because their promote their own message and self interests more than the collective good.

When we write about "reducing silos", advertising, public awareness and network-building needs to be part of the conversation. With the Internet, and with a few friends who have a little, or a lot, of money, anyone can set up a web site and say the want to promote "a better Chicago" or a better way to help Black Youth, or stop violence in the city. Depending on the resources they can bring to bear, daily and weekly e-mail newsletters can be generated, providing powerful stories about why people should be involved. Media attention can result in feature articles in business publications showing the good work being done.

Yet, if these times in the spotlight only point to one organization, not to the library of information collected by others, there are too few working to overcome the challenges Wilcox writes about in his blog article. Too few are working to reach people in different sectors, with different starting points for their own efforts at social change, and with their own needs for funding, volunteers and public attention.

Just pointing to web sites of others is only a starting point. I've written articles about how we need to stimulate learning and how MOOCs can be organized to connect people from different networks in facilitated, on-going learning and relationship building. The Jan-March 2013 Education, Technology and Media MOOC #ETMOOC was one example.

I created this library of Chicago tutor/mentor programs to help volunteers and donors and media find programs in every part of the city who need to be consistently supported for many years if they are to become "great programs" doing "great work" to help kids through school and into careers. I created this concept map to show many of the organizations who also focus on youth well-being.

I point to these organizations daily because of the links on my web site and the articles I write. A few of them have links pointing back to me. Fewer use their media to point to events like the Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference, where people from different "silos" can connect with each other.

While I have tried to organize quarterly events to draw people together and draw attention to volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring programs, these events only cover a few time frames each year. If during these time frames your focus is the same as mine, let's try to connect, even if is only through web links and on-line networking. If you organize events at different times, but focused on the same issues, point to the library of information I make available to YOUR audience, and I can talk about your event in my media.

It takes each person going 100% of the way to make a marriage work. I think that's equally true in trying to break down the silos that separate us in our collective efforts.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Community Wealth Building, Anchor Institutions, Mentoring

This week I attended a meeting of the Illinois Task Force on Social Innovation and listened to Ted Howard's recommendations for building community wealth in high poverty areas of Illinois. If you've not heard this term, or thought of a neighborhood tutor/mentor program as part of a wealth-building strategy I encourage you to browse the resources at http://www.community-wealth.org and view this infographic describing community wealth-building.

I was particularly interested in Ted's description of the role of anchor institutions, like hospitals, who often are the largest employer in a high poverty neighborhood. Since 2000 I've shared a vision of hospitals being anchor institutions in building tutor/mentor programs in the trade area around a hospital, because of the potential they have to lower the cost of poverty services at the hospital, while also encouraging young people to seek health careers and work in hospitals, thus lowering the costs of employment. Workforce productivity research(here and here)shows that employee volunteer engagement improves workforce productivity, providing more reasons for businesses to become strategically involved in tutor/mentor program growth.

As I listened to Ted's comments, he kept pointing to other organizations as models for community wealth-building. I asked myself, "Does he have a web library with these examples and more?" The next day I visited his web site and found a huge, well-organized library.

A few years ago I created this graphic to show the importance of aggregating information that anyone could use to support the growth of youth support programs that help lead youth through school and into jobs and careers. At the bottom of this pyramid I show the need for someone collecting information showing who's already involved, where they are located, what they do, as well as who provides funds, volunteers, etc. I created this concept map showing intermediary organizations supporting Chicago youth and this library with web links to nearly 175 Chicago area youth serving organizations. These are part of a library with more than 2000 links pointing to research, capacity building, innovation and process improvement ideas.

While this information needs to be constantly managed, it also needs to have an on-going advertising/outreach effort to increase the number of people who find and use the information, along with an on-going facilitation process to help people understand and apply the various ideas so that more people are strategically involved in helping to build and sustain birth-to-work youth serving organizations in every high poverty neighborhood of the city and suburbs. See 4-Part Strategy Description.

I use maps to show where programs are located, and to identify assets who are part of the neighborhood and who could be anchor organizations that support this process. In articles like this I show how others could create their own maps from the platform I host.

After listening to Ted Howard and visiting his web site, I realized that community wealth building is a parallel process, based on the same need for a knowledge base. I created this pyramid to illustrate the steps in common. I updated the strategic planning PDF that graduate students from DePaul University had created for me in the early 2000s to include a graphic showing that a hospital or other anchor institution could support a Tutor/Mentor Program Development strategy and a community wealth-growing strategy as part of the same set of goals. This graphic shows the two strategies side-by-side and can be copied and used by any community organizer in Chicago or beyond who wants to engage hospitals, faith groups, universities and/or businesses as partners and lead institutions in this neighborhood focused strategy.

I've been creating graphics to illustrate ideas since the mid 1990s and interns have been helping do this since the mid 2000s. I've created some boards on Pinterest with many of my graphics. Each includes links to a web page or blog where the graphic is used. My hope is that others who are interested in communicating these same ideas will use my graphics in their own articles, or will innovate new versions of the same graphics, that communicate the idea more effectively. If you do use these, just send me a link, and provide an attribution so the people you are connecting with will take a look at more of the ideas and resources in the knowledge base I've been building for more than 20 years.

I'm testing new tools for communicating ideas. Here's the Tutor/Mentor Hospital Connection PDF on Flipsnack. I need a sponsor to pay fees for me to use this site.

While all of this information is on the Internet, I host a conference twice a year in Chicago and invite people from my on-line world to connect face to face. The next is June 7 at the Metcalfe Federal Building. You can see the agenda and registration information here. I hope you'll participate if you are in the region.

Monday, April 22, 2013

On-Line Reunion of Tutor/Mentor Program Youth and Volunteers

We all know how we're reconnecting with long-lost friends on Facebook and Linked in. I'd like to show how this is helping a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program support long-term mentoring and networking connections between its volunteers, leaders and students

The woman in this picture is Claudia Crilly Bellucci. She was one of the first two people hired at Cabrini Connections in 1993. She had been a volunteer in the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program for nearly 10 year prior to that.

Among the kids in this picture, the girl on the far left is Tameeka Meekins. She joined us when she was entering 6th grade, after having been part of the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring program prior to that. Also in this picture is Tangela Smith (white sweatshirt near picture on wall). Tangela was one of our first high school graduates in 1997. She was the guest speaker at the 2010 year end dinner.

In the photo to the right, the lady in the middle is Gena Schoen. Gena was also hired in the summer of 1993. She had been part of the Montgomery Ward/Cabrini Green Tutoring Program from about 1988. When she was hired to work part time for Cabrini Connections she was working with the Montgomery Ward Corporate Foundation, which had agreed to provide a muti-year grant to help Cabrini Connections get off the ground.

Gena remained with Cabrini Connections through 2001, and was the primary leader and developer of the tutor/mentor program from 1993 to 2000, along with myself. She moved to Washington, DC in 2001 to take a job there. In this picture are Lovae Smith, who graduated from high school in 1999 and Eric Moore, who also graduated in 1999. I saw Eric at a funeral in December 2008.

Gena and Claudia and I have stayed in contact through email, just as I've stayed in contact with hundreds of other former volunteers from the past 30 years. As of this weekend, we're now connected to each other and to a growing number of former students through Facebook.

What this means is that the money donors invested 10 to 15 years ago to help us build these connections, is still paying dividends today, as this family of students and volunteers is reconnecting with each other in social networks spaces.

This picture shows Gena, an other volunteers and alumni at our 2003 year end Dinner. You can find some of these on Facebook, too.

I led the Cabrini Connections program from 1992 to mid 2011. Before that I led the Montgomery Ward-Cabrini Green Tutoring Program from 1975 to 1990, then led Cabrini-Green Tutoring Program Inc. (now Chicago Tutoring) from its founding in 1990 to October 1992. Each year since 1975 there has been year-end dinner celebration. In the past this has connected parents, volunteers and students from that year's program, along with alumni from previous years.

Since 2007 I've been trying to create an on-line reunion, connecting youth and adults who were part of Cabrini Connections, or the tutoring program hosted from 1965 to 1990 by Montgomery Ward, in an on-line community that would support each other in their adult lives, and provide leadership to support programs that currently operate in Chicago and other cities.

When donors ask me for metrics to evaluate the impact of Cabrini Connections, I point to the attendance records, and to metrics charts, which show how we have motivated kids and volunteers to come together at Cabrini Connections, and how many met each week for 3 to seven years. However, that is not satisfying some donors. They want to see reading and math scores or incremental gains in social/emotional behavior.

I keep showing charts like this, showing that the goal of a tutor/mentor program is (should be) to help young people move through school and into jobs. Since tutor/mentor programs operate in non-school hours, kids are volunteers, just as adults. Building and sustaining long term participation is an outcome. It's difficult to achieve.

It's also evidence of a long-term, muti-year process, that needs to be supported each year to sustain youth and volunteer involvement. There are many ups and downs during this journey and other than tracking participation and reporting milestones for individual students, it's difficult to see the impact until a program has been in place for 10 to 20 years. Even then, if the program has not maintained contact records and history of participation, it can't reach out to alumni to learn it's impact or to support interaction in the adult lives.

As we build connections between former students and volunteers on social media, the stories of how tutors/mentors have had an impact in the lives of kids, as well as the way the community keeps providing support in adult lives, can provide even stronger evidence to the value of these programs and the need to provide consistent support so that programs can recruit and retain staff who are the glue to keeping kids and volunteers involved.

The grand Tutor/Mentor Reunion
I've records of youth and volunteer participation in the programs I've led extending back to the early 1970s. I've begun to so some network analysis showing how I'm connected to youth and volunteers on my Facebook page and how other staff and volunteers are still connected. I think that with a creative advertising campaign, tutor/mentor programs could attract former participants to an on-line space. This reunion could extend to tutor/mentor programs throughout Chicago and the country. There are probably several million people in the US who have been tutors, mentors or student participants in these programs since the early 1970s. Imagine if we could connect them in one huge on-line community of people helping each other, and working to close the social and economic gaps that separate rich and poor in America today.

Most kids born in big city poverty don't have a network like this. The kids who have been part of the tutor/mentor programs I've led since 1975 do. In addition, youth who have been part of some of the other tutor/mentor programsother tutor/mentor programs operating in Chicago have had this type of long-term support. I've been building a list of programs, but have not had the manpower to dig deeper into what they do to show which have long-term strategies and which don't.

That's one of many things I've not been able to do as well as they need to be done.

I've been trying to develop a GIS mapping capacity as well as a social network analysis capacity (read more here)for many years. This is all part of a 4-part strategy which is shown on this concept map, which also shows work that needs to be done.

I was never able to find consistent funding or consistent volunteer involvement to do this under the non-profit tax structure of Cabrini Connections, Tutor/Mentor Connection, and so far, I've not found funding, volunteers and other needed support under the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC structure I created in 2011 after the Cabrini Connections Board of Directors voted to no longer support the T/MC strategy.

I think the process and tools I've been trying to develop could be applied in any urban area, and could be offered through different leadership structures, such as a college institute, a free standing non profit, a business initiative, etc. I don't think this strategy should be placed in the Mayor or Governor or President's office because when political leaders change, so do the programs they support. We need consistent support of efforts that build and sustain mentor-rich programs that does not change every few years. In addition, there's too much innovation involved, and too much ambiguity. Government funding does not encourage the type of flexibility and entrepreneurship needed to build and sustain this network of youth supports for such a long period.

I've been volunteering my time, talent and dollars to build this platform for over 20 years. I've been sharing my ideas freely on this blog and in the pages of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site, which allows anyone to take these ideas and implement them as part of their own leadership...without ever telling me or compensating me for initiating the ideas.

That's acceptable. The goal is to help kids, not make me rich.

However, in order to continue to develop this ideas, and build the tools that are needed, I do need financial support, as well as partners/co-owners and volunteers who will help do the technical work, the marketing, and the relationship building that is needed to carry this strategy into the future. Can you help?

Class War in America?

As we begin to celebrate National Volunteer Week, I share this video which I watched earlier today. The gaps between rich and poor are wider than ever in America. When I talk about volunteering in a tutor/mentor program, I'm not just talking about how that helps kids rise from poverty through education and expanded networks, I'm describing a strategy that connects people beyond poverty, in on-going, personal interactions, that help build understanding, empathy and a commitment to change.

In Chicago there are more than 600,000 youth between age 5 and 19 and half live in poverty. The total youth served in all of the existing tutor/mentor programs is probably less than 5% of this number and the distribution of programs in different neighborhoods is poor. As you reflect on this video, take a look at this list of organizations. Find one or two that you can support with your time, talent and dollars so that we find ways to reach more kids, and engage more adults. It's one strategy that can lead to more people involved in closing the inequality gaps.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Influencing Career Aspirations - Role of Business & Mentoring

In this UK report titled "Nothing in Common: The Career Aspirations of Young Britons Mapped against Projected Labor Market Demands (2010-2020)" the authors show that career aspirations for many youth do not align with available jobs and call for greater business involvement with education efforts to change this.

This lack of alignment is probably as common in the US as in the UK. So what are businesses and mentoring programs doing about it? Since I've led a volunteer-based tutor/mentor program for over 35 years I've come to believe that having mentors from different business and professional backgrounds involved with young people can expand the types of career choices youth might aspire to. The image below shows young people in the Cabrini Connections program engaged in performance activities. One of those young people, Tramaine Montel Ford, is now a professional actor in New York, who says his "acting bug" started with the video program at Cabrini Connections.

At Cabrini Connections every teen was in a one-on-one match with volunteers from different business backgrounds. However, since this was a site-based program, other volunteers were also able to participate, organizing small learning groups (we called clubs) focused on technology, art, video, writing, dance, etc. These never had funding for consistent staff support so the level of activity from year to year was inconsistent, but they all provided a range of extra learning opportunities for the teens who participated.

In the mid 1990s I tried to create a new term for this type of mentoring program. I called it "Total Quality Mentoring (TQM)" borrowing from the business concept of Total Quality Management. I was describing a type of mentoring that had many different influences, and was constantly looking for ways to improve it's impact by engaging the talents of volunteers and youth in all phases of program operations. This graphic was created to demonstrate this program model.

The center of the "wheel" is a youth, with the spokes representing the different types of influences that a program might expose the youth to via the volunteers who participate and the activities the program offers. This graphic also is the model for a "program" which recruits volunteers from different work backgrounds and recruits youth in elementary or middle school and works to keep them involved all through high school. As the Internet became available, this vision extends to building a life-long network connecting youth and volunteers with each other in a virtual support system.

Each spoke of the wheel has an arrow going both ways. Every time a volunteer interacts with a youth in a weekly tutor/mentor session he/she is learning something about that child and the community he/she lives in. Every week that volunteer informally shares what is learned with his friends, family and co-workers. The longer the volunteer stays involved, the greater his empathy/understanding grows and the more he is willing to do to support the youth, and often the program. This animation illustrates this service-learning loop. If volunteers are well-supported by consistent staff involvement, they will stay involved longer and many will begin to bring other volunteers, other learning opportunities, and even financial support, to the organization.

Every spoke in the chart also points to a specific industry cluster that has different workforce readiness needs. In this graphic I emphasize the 12 years it takes to go from first grade through high school and the ways business could support this journey with volunteer involvement, technology, ideas and on-going funding. If companies were to look at this strategically, they could be supporting volunteers with ideas they could take to their tutor/mentor sessions. Thus, volunteers from engineering and manufacturing could be using clay and animation to teach thinking skills to elementary school kids, that might motivate aspirations for these types of careers. They also might organize field trips and job shadowing during middle school years. In addition they might offer part time jobs and internships during high school years, and even provide scholarship money and summer jobs during college years.

If political leaders recognized the importance of this strategy they could be recruiting and recognizing companies from every industry who were adopting this strategy. The result would be that volunteers and financial support would be coming to each program in the city from many different sectors, creating a broader base of funding needed to ensure that each program had talented staff that would stay with these programs longer, and that youth were surrounded with volunteers modeling many different career aspirations, not just one or two.

If you are a volunteer, alumni, student, parent, donor, etc. you can share this idea with people in your network who are involved in different industries, or who are in media, entertainment and/or politics and who might provide encouragement for companies to adopt the Total Quality Mentoring model.

If you're being asked to contribute $50 million for a new anti-violence strategy wouldn't it make sense if this was also a workforce development strategy?

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

CPS School Closings - Map Analysis

While I post stories on this site I also continue to post stories related to mapping and visualization on the Mapping for Justice blog site. Today I did a map analysis of the area around King Elementary School, which is on the CPS school closing list. Take a look at this and other mapping stories.

$50 million business commitment to anti violence. Is this ownership?

I encourage you to read the column by Phil Rosenthal in the Business Section of today's Chicago Tribune, titled "Business Makes Fighting Crime their Business".

The final paragraph says "This (crisis) didn't happen all at once. This happened failure by failure. Here we are 30-some years later and we're in a bad p lace. We need to take ownership for making it better."

This sounds like the front page editorial on October 15, 1992 Chicago SunTimes after 7-year old Dantrell Davis was shot while going to school. I've kept this front page as a reminder for my own responsibility, and have shared it often in my outreach in an effort to encourage business, political and philanthropic leaders to adopt a long-term responsibility for building and supporting birth to work programs that offer alternatives to gangs and violence, and more paths to jobs and careers. see article

So while business leaders are being asked to contribute $50 million to Chicago's anti violence program I urge you to review and adopt the commitment and strategy shown below.

To signal your commitment and share your leadership strategy, create a version of this strategy map, with your name in the box at the top, and post this on your web site, with links to the Tutor/Mentor Institute Chicago Crime Lab and other resources that people can learn from -- and connect with -- in supporting this long-term war on poverty and inner city violence.

Rather than a single leader, the city and country need many leaders, each innovating ways to mobilize resources to support the infrastructure and operations of a wide range of youth tutoring, mentoring, learning and jobs programs in communities where they do business, not just where the corporate office is located.

I've written countless articles showing strategy, leadership, network building, learning, etc since starting this blog in 2005. If you devote resources within your company to building your own strategy to support your commitment, I hope some of your leaders will read and reflect on some of these ideas, then put the ones that work for you into your own efforts.

Twenty years from now we can have another column like the one Phil Rosenthal wrote today, or a different one showing a city with a wide range of programs in every poverty neighborhood, each telling stories of young people who have gone through the programs and now work at the companies that made this possible.

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Connecting Resource Providers and Tutor/Mentor Leaders

I keep looking for a simple way to describe what I do, and what I'm trying to do. If I were the Mayor, President or the head of a big company or foundation, it would be easy for people to understand my ideas because these are the traditional leaders expected to think in broad, system-wide strategies.

I read a book many years ago titled, JESUS, CEO (see article). I'm about as insignificant in power circles of Chicago as Jesus was among the religious leaders of his time. Yet his ideas changed the world. Without the Internet!

The Internet changed how ideas can be communicated, so anyone can post an idea that might change the world. However, world-changing is a complex, long-term process, involving many people and many resources. If you're not a recognized leader, most people won't spend enough time on your web site trying to understand your ideas, or trying to adjust what they are already doing to fit new ideas into their thinking.

Well, I keep trying. Today I created the graphic that you see below.

If we're trying to connect thousands of k-12 Chicago youth in well-organized non-school tutor/mentor programs, where there is a diversity of volunteers representing different career backgrounds, and a variety of learning and enrichment activities in addition to one-on-one tutoring/mentoring, those programs need to be in neighborhoods close enough for kids to participate regularly and safe enough to attract volunteers who don't live in the neighborhood.

In addition, the programs need staff who stay with the program five, 10, or 15 years, building experience, trust, knowledge, relationships with schools, families, donors, other programs, etc. which gives them the ability to organize on-going activities, respond to the changing needs of their youth and volunteer base, collect and evaluate data showing impact of the program, communicate effectively via social media, written grant proposals and reports, and deal with the unexpected daily crisis that take so much of their time.

The need to be constantly focusing on ways to transform young people and volunteers into learners, partners and co-CEOs of efforts to transform their futures. That's quite an extensive skill base. Oh, they also need to manage volunteer boards, diverse egos, ambiguity, stress, frustration, and work with inadequate resources to do most of what they know they need to do.

Chicago has more than 200,000 youth living in high poverty. For one quarter of those youth to be enrolled in the type of programs I've described, there would need to be at 500 to 600 of these programs scattered around the city. There would need to be a massive, and consistent effort to educate the general public and attract financial resources, volunteers and pro-bono support to EACH of these programs, not just the most visible.

I have about 200 youth serving organizations listed in the Chicago Program Links of my library. If you look at these web sites you see a wide range of programs described, and on many sites you can't tell what type of program, if any, is now offered. You don't see a consistent use of web sites to show strategy, theory of change, history of participation, progress of youth through school and into jobs. Yet, unless more of the programs are showing such information it will be difficult for them to attract volunteers and operating resources on a consistent basis.

Let's reverse how programs are supported.

I've posted many articles about challenges facing non profits, and many articles showing how volunteers in business, colleges, hospitals, professional groups, etc. could act as a virtual corporate office, mobilizing resources and providing services that help mentor-rich programs have the infrastructure, talent and dollars they need to grow into great mentoring organizations, then constantly improve each year as they learned from others and from their own efforts.

Until leaders in business are taking on a commitment to support this citywide infrastructure, for business reasons, as well as social, religious and ethical reasons, we won't have a system in place that can support such a large number of organizations distributed over so many neighborhoods.

If this graphic helps you think of the system of supports needed in Chicago or in other cities, then I hope you'll share these ideas and/or adopt them in your own actions. If you have graphic talents and would like to create a new version of this, please join with interns in the project described in this forum.

You can find more graphics that illustrate these ideas in other blog articles, in the library on Pinterest, in articles I've posted on Scribd.com, and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC pages.

No one can do all of this work without the help of many others. I can't do what I'm trying to do and each individual tutor/mentor program can't do all it needs to do. We need to connect.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

Building Local Global Connections

On Tuesday I participated in a Google Hangout, connecting with people from Europe and South America, in a discussion of mapping. Below is the video:

Since then two of the participants have written summary blog articles, which you can see here, and here, and many have shared ideas in this Facebook group.

I've been incorporating maps since 1994 in my efforts to support the growth of volunteer based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, so I have a pretty good ideas of the challenges we face in doing this work. I created the TALENT MAP below to show the range of different talents that need to be consistently involved in this effort, which can't be consistently available through voluntary commitments alone. Since I've not had the funding needed, my progress toward building this system has been fragmented and painfully slow.

I have used concept maps to visualize the ideas and strategies that would lead to better information, more people looking at the information, more people understanding the information, and thus, more people acting consistently as volunteers, donors, staff, media, political leaders, etc. to support the growth and constant improvement of mentor-based programs focused on expanding networks of adult support, and helping kids through school and into jobs, in high poverty areas.

This work cannot be done by one person, or one small organization. Much needs to be done, as this strategy map shows. However, it does not need to be done by people who all live in the same city or country. The talent map can be filled in by people from around the world who use help build and share the tools that achieve the strategy, and use the strategy in their own communities.

Many people already do this work. But most are disconnected, and there's few ways to know who does what. In 1998 a grad student from the University of Kansas reached out to me, and began presenting workshops at T/MC conferences in Chicago. In 2000 he wrote a grant proposal which I was able to get funded, to build an on-line documentation system that would enable people working on this project to document what actions they were taking, and to show what part of the strategy their action was focusing on.

This graphic is the home page of the OHATS (Organizational History and Tracking System). Each time an action is documented the pie chart changes. A system like this can educate people on actions they need to take to build a citywide system of supports. It can also give recognition to those who actually are doing the work needed. With each graphic you can click to a discussion page and learn more about the meaning of that graphic. You can also log in as GUEST and Visitor to read actions documented.

Unfortunately, we were never able to get repeated funding after 2000 to update the technology and train people to become recorders. By 2003 spammers were attacking so often few people were sing it. Then, in 2007 a volunteer from Baltimore and his company in India, rebuild the OHATS, making it interactive in ways far beyond my own visions. This demonstrates how people from different countries can use their time and talent to help each other. Since money was not available to do additional work, it also shows how the lack of funding and philanthropic investment cripples innovations like this.

By participating in forms like this week's Google Hangout I hope to attract more people who are interested in these ideas, and who will become partners, and recorders, to do the work needed to build, maintain and share these tools with others throughout Chicago, and the world.

You can read many other articles I've posted on this blog, demonstrating uses of maps. I don't think any city will ever have a strategy that reaches most of its poverty neighborhoods, without a map-based strategy like I've been trying to build. Thus, if your passion is to close the gaps between rich and poor, or engage your business and its employees in activities that benefit the company, your current workforce, and your future work force, let's connect and find ways for you to become involved....regardless of where you are located.

Monday, April 01, 2013

Create a SWARM of engagement

This video was introduced to me via one of my Facebook groups today. I encourage you to take 15 minutes to view it.

As I review this I think of a book I read a few years ago, talking about the strength of decentralized organizations, called The Starfish and the Spider (see link) , and my own efforts to connect people, ideas and actions, as described in this presentation.

There are many ideas about creating an information hub that connects people from around the world with information related to a problem, such as poverty, the environment, global warming, etc. along with hubs that provide practical ideas for solving the problem, based on what people in some places are already doing.

As this graphic suggests, these ideas are all connected in a larger wheel of global well-being.

The challenge that we face now is finding ways to connect those who are already involved to each other, and creating linkages that connect groups to each other, so people and ideas and resources can flow through the network to support the many different efforts, and to act as a glue or gravity that pulls them closer together.

If we don't do this more and more hubs and platforms will launch, and instead of a gravity pulling us together there will be a vacuum in which we drift further and further apart, with random clusters forming and reforming as resources and public attention become available.