Monday, October 07, 2013

A New Chicago Plan - Some Suggestions

In Sunday's Chicago Tribune, readers and organizations were invited to finish the work that civic architect Daniel Burnham started over 100 years ago — "to address the imperiled livability, uneven prosperity and desperate public finances that have driven residents to leave by the hundreds of thousands." Read the article and offer your ideas.

As this 1995 article demonstrates, I've been offering my ideas for close to 20 years. In the graphics below I'll highlight a few key points.

Raising kids is like building a building. You start at the beginning, birth or conception, whichever you prefer, and work toward adulthood, and self reliance. A team of people is involved in any building project, and blueprints define work that needs to be done at each stage of the project, along with who needs to be involved.

This takes 20 to 30 years of consistent support. Building and sustaining support from millions of Chicago area residents, now and in future years, is the primary challenge that must be overcome.

The graphic below is one I've been working on for nearly 20 years. It shows a range of supports that youth need from the time they are born to when they enter jobs and careers. To me, volunteer tutors/mentors in organized non-school tutor/mentor programs are "extra adults" helping youth and families get needed resources. They are needed in areas of high poverty where families and communities struggle to make such resources available.

If you click on this link you can view the graphic. You can also click on a few of the nodes, which take you to a web library where I've aggregated links specific to that topic.

Building a solution to the problems facing Chicago, and other cities, should be considered a form of "open source" development. A web portal that enables anyone to post an idea and link it visually to a map, or a blueprint, is something I've been looking for help with for many years.

This image is a map of Chicago. The "oil well" intends to illustrate that the "birth to work" support system needs to be available in different parts of every community area of Chicago. Since poverty is now growing the suburbs, and what happens in the city affects the suburbs, this new vision for Chicago really needs to be a vision for the Chicago region.

While I've been sharing these ideas for nearly 20 years, most of the leaders in Chicago have been busy ignoring them and doing their own "problem solving". In addition to the Tribune's call for ideas, the Donors Forum has launched a platform for "Building a Better Illinois" and the Mayor's office is supporting a Thrive Chicago initiative, which does not yet have a web site.

There are dozens of different organizations focused on helping youth overcome poverty and succeed in school. Thus, one of the first challenges is connecting the different networks with each other and integrating the ideas into one collective vision, with a set of blueprints that anyone can use to support their own actions, in one or more neighborhoods of the region. This concept map points to many networks focusing on youth that I'm aware of. I'm sure there are more.

Anyone who has put an addition on their house, or built a towering skyscraper knows that you need financing so that everyone gets paid to do the work they are supposed to do. Anyone involved in non-profit work knows that finding financing to do all of the work you need to be doing is almost impossible. I was at a Philanthropy Club meeting last week where a Compass Point report titled "Underdeveloped: Challenges Facing Nonprofit Fund Raising" was discussed. I've created an entire section of articles that focus on challenges facing the non profit sector, and have recently pointed to solutions offered by creative thinkers like Dan Pallotta.

Thus, not only do we need to create a blueprint capturing the ideas of many different organizations already involved in efforts to improve the well-being of the Chicago region, we need to innovate new ways of funding this work over a period of many decades, while the city and state faces all sorts of financial challenges.

I created this slideshare essay to illustrate some of the work that needs to be done.

Here are a few additional essays on Scrib.come that I would recommend

* 4-part strategy on Scribd -

* Planning Cycle - War on Poverty -

* Collaboration goals -

* Year Round strategy -

The success of the new Chicago Plan, or any other, will depend on how many leaders in business, philanthropy, religion, politics, etc. adopt the commitment shown in this strategy map and this Role of Leaders essay.

When the Mayor asks "Where on your web site do you show your commitment to this strategy? before providing a contract or favor, or when the media begin to build web lists pointing to web sites of leaders who include a version of this strategy map on their web sites, we'll begin to have the motivation and accountability needed to not only build a strategy, but to build and distribute the resources to make it work.

I've hosted a Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago every six months since May 1994, with the goal of bringing leaders together to innovate ways to make more and better tutor/mentor programs available throughout the city and suburbs. I've never had consistent financial support, nor have I had consistent participation from media, business leaders, political or faith leaders. Yet, I'm still sending the invitation to connect.
The next conference is Monday, November 4 at the Metcalfe Federal Building. If the ideas I've shared resonate with you, take part in the conference, or reach out to add your support to my own efforts, or include me in your efforts.

Visit Pinterest to find more graphics like those in this article. Click into the various sub categories of past articles (shown on left) to find more illustrated articles and ideas.


Steve Sewall said...

Thanks for this thoughtful post. I will be in touch with you guys. Steve Sewall, Chicago Civic media

Tutor Mentor Connections said...

Thanks Steve. I'll look forward to talking with you, or any other civic leaders who are looking for strategies that help kids move through school and into jobs, with the help of volunteers, the business community, colleges and others.