Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Need More Leaders Using Maps

Last week I watched seven hours of panel discussions, where experts talked about the Future of Chicago. It was an event hosted by Crain's Chicago Business. I wrote this follow up article on the Tutor/Mentor blog right after the event. Then I wrote this article on LinkedIn the next day.

I was an active Tweeter during the #futurechicago event, sharing posts like this:

My goal was to motivate more people to use maps in their planning, and marketing, so more neighborhoods would have the resources needed to overcome challenges of poverty.

I'm a subscriber to Crain's Chicago Business, but don't get my printed copy until a week after the circulation date, since it goes to my PO Box.  I picked up my June 13 issue yesterday and on page two, (see below) saw this article written by Greg Hinz.

The article focuses on education as a leading indicator of how well people are doing and includes maps showing changes in medium home value, college degrees, and medium household income.  I encourage you to visit the link and look at the full article. The maps are animated, showing changes over 34 years.  

The analysis is professionally written and hopefully motivates readers to dig deeper into strategies that I and others have posted which drive solutions to areas with high poverty so that the maps in 10 or 20 years show a different trend.

Unfortunately, I did not see any use of maps by any of the panel discussion experts during the #futurechicago event.  To me that's a missed opportunity. 

I was one of 10 people to represent Chicago at the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, held in Philadelphia. The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 organizations from around the country invited to have a "teaching example" display at the Summit.

The lead organizer for the event, and the founding leader of America's Promise, created to follow up on the goals set at the event, was General Colin Powel, who gained fame in the First Gulf War, for his nightly briefings on TV, where he used maps to show  enemy placement and allied troop movements.

In the nearly 20 years since then, I've not seen any consistent example of General Powell or any other leader using maps to mobilize troops and supplies to fight the war on poverty in every neighborhood where poverty is deeply entrenched in America.

In the year following the 1997 Summit I created this presentation, showing actions leaders might take to reach America's most at-risk youth....those living in areas of isolated, concentrated, poverty.

This was created before I started using the Internet, or had a web site (I made some edits when I updated and published this last year). The ideas and strategies still Chicago, or in any other major city in the US.  Many can  now take on leadership roles, or support roles to implement this strategy. More writers like Greg Hinz can include maps in their stories and more media outlines, like Crain's Chicago Business, can feature such stories on a regular basis.

I've been posting map stories on this blog, and in the Mappingforjustice blog for nearly a decade.  I created this "No General Goes to War Without a Map" pdf in the early 2000s.

Someone would need to be "actively not looking" to not have found one of my articles over the past 10 years.  Yet I don't see many using maps to show where help is needed. More importantly, I don't see them using maps to mobilize resources, or build a supply chain, of talent, ideas, technology, etc. that is needed to support solutions in EVERY poverty neighborhood.

More to the point, I've had very few contact me asking for lessons I've learned, challenges I've faced, or opportunities I see. And, due to the financial meltdowns of the early 2000s and late 2000s, have had terrible luck in finding and keeping volunteers and donors involved to support my own efforts. 

Maybe the next time the Mayor speaks at an event focused on the future of Chicago, he will use his time on stage to start out with a map saying "this is my city". Perhaps he'll quote Greg Hinz and say "It is a divided city." Then, perhaps, he'll go on to show how his leadership will provide ideas that people can use to support the growth of needed programs, services and opportunities in all of the high poverty neighborhoods.

It's only by our example that we can expect these ideas to be adopted.

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