Sunday, April 28, 2019

Navigating Information Overload - 2019 update

See in this article
I studied history in college, then spent three years in the US Army, in the Intelligence branch. In both cases I was learning to use best available information to support decisions of leaders.

I began to build a library of information in the 1970s, while leading a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago. I expanded this effort in 1993 when I formed the Tutor/Mentor Connection, and then in 1998 when I began to build the library on the Internet.

Visit this article and find links to all sections of the library.

We now have a new Mayor in Chicago, meaning new people will be seeking solutions to old problems.

Helping kids living in high poverty move safely through school and into adult live and jobs, will be one of the focus areas.

Four-part strategy click here
My hope is that the Mayor will point her team to the web library I've been building, and to the four-part strategy described in this visual.  What makes my library unique is that while some of the information is from my own experiences, most of the sites I point to, have their own web libraries. Thus, each site opens to hundreds, if not thousands, of additional resources.

With all of this information, how can normal people find time to do more than scratch the surface? I think this is one of the major problems facing the world. Too much information. Too few using it.

Below is what I wrote about this in a 2012 article.

Often I learn to understand what I've been doing by seeing how others present similar ideas. Over the past few years I've followed many people who share ideas in a variety of blogs, web sites, videos, social media sites, etc. I've pointed to many on my own blog and web site and even collect some of the links in my web library.

Over the past year I've been learning about Massive open Online Courses (MOOCS). Rather than trying to give you a description of my own, I encourage you to view this video then visit this CHANGE.MOOC.CA site.

Without knowing it, I've been creating a platform of information and ideas that is waiting for a team of facilitators to turn it into a MOOC. This video describes many of the strategies of the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and Tutor/Mentor Connection. It shows a way to connect people from different places and different networks in on-going learning that they can use to understand poverty and its impact on youth, families and communities, and to learn strategies working in some places that could be applied in other places.

I've used this graphic often to illustrate the "village" of people who need to be involved in this on-going learning process and in strategies that help kids in poverty areas have more of the support systems needed to move through school and into adult responsibilities.

In several past blog articles I've written about "silos" where groups focus on their own issues, with their own ideas, and their own limited membership. Chicago and other big cities are full of silos. Chicago has more than 200 different youth serving organizations offering various forms of volunteer-based tutoring and/or mentoring in non-school hours.

Each one is forced to be a "silo" because of how they compete for dollars.

Yet, each also has common needs. Connecting together in a MOOC type of process, and engaging volunteers, alumni, business people, philanthropists, etc. might build shared commitment and new strategies for generating and distributing these resources, leading to constantly improving programs in all parts of an urban area.

Until we find ways to connect youth, volunteers, leaders, donors and policy makers from each of these different organizations and from business, religion, philanthropy, higher education,government, media, etc. we'll never have consistent strategies reaching young people in all poverty neighborhoods with best-in-world strategies learned from this world of ideas that can be found through the Internet.

I point to more than 2000 different web sites from my own sites...and these point to other web sites with even greater levels of information. It's the information overload that David Comer talks about in this video about MOOCs.

While I record more than 8000 visitors and 150,000 page views on my own web sites this is just a fraction of the people who need to be involved in this on-going learning. While I have the vision, I don't yet have the ability to organize and lead a MOOC that connects big-city stakeholders in on-going learning that draws from all of this information in the ways the video above describes.

Yet, if you look at the structure of the courses on CHANGE.MOOC, perhaps the blog I've written since 2005 could be considered a MOOC! It's open to anyone in the world. In needs more facilitators.

New organizations keep sprouting up in Chicago with new sponsors and new donors putting up hundreds of thousands of dollars. They are reinventing the wheel and the cost of accumulating all of this information and building a network of people to share it will be overwhelming.

-------------- end 2012 article --------

Since 2012 I've  participated in other cMOOCs and one group that has has a longer-lasting connectivity is a Connected Learning #CLMOOC group that started in 2013 and continues in 2019.

Here's an article that I wrote about this group in late December 2018.

So, what's next?

This picture shows how I constantly am trying to connect people in my network with information in my web library. 

I'd love to find a collection of similar graphics, picturing the Mayor, the Governor, CEOs of business and philanthropy, doing the same thing.  They don't need to point to my library, if the sites they point to have links to it.  But they do need to be encouraging the growth of this information base, as a source of understanding  and solving complex problems.

If you'd like to know more about what I'm describing, let's connect.  I'm on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIN. You can introduce yourself in the comments section.

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

When Have So Many Done So Little With So Much

I was looking for inspiration for writing today's blog and, as I do often, I looked at what I was writing during this same time frame in past years.

President's Summit
for America's Future
April 1997
I found an article from April 28, 2007, which I'm going to re-post below. 

Some background first. In April 1997 teams of 10 people from 150 cities gathered in Philadelphia, at the invitation of President Clinton, and former Presidents Bush, Carter and Reagan (via Nancy Reagan). The event was headlined by General Colin Powell.

I was there. I was part of the Chicago delegation.  The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 organizations invited to have a display at the Summit, as a Teaching example. I wrote about it in this 2017 article.

So it's now 22 years since promises were made to help America's 13.5 million kids living in high poverty.

Here's what I wrote in 2007

In this month's issue of Youth Today, Bill Treanor has written an article about the 10 year results of the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, which gathered leaders from 150 cities and all living Presidents, to focus attention on the help needed by more than 13 million youth living in poverty.

Bill's article can be found here.  Bill points out that the America's Promise organization, which was established to implement the goals of the Summit, has raised more than $27 million since 1997. The question is what has been accomplished other than creating high paying jobs for the staffers at America's Promise?

I was one of Chicago's ten delegates. The Tutor/Mentor Connection was one of 50 organizations from around the country invited to have a display at the Summit, as a "teaching example". I still have newspaper articles, and the manifesto listing the commitments to helping the most at-risk youth in America.

As a leader of a youth serving agency in a big city, I left the Summit hoping for reinforcements. I know how small non profits struggle for resources to keep youth and business volunteers coming to non-school programs, and how difficult it is to influence aspirations of education, college and careers, when these aspirations are not modeled by many of the most visible people in high poverty neighborhoods. I was hoping that General Powell would use maps, and be recruit business and celebrity leaders, who will mobilize resources to support the non profits already on the battlefield in our war against poverty.

Instead, the war profiteers are those with high paying jobs, or who are earning big PR contracts. The troops are under-supported. The claims of success are over stated. As America's Promise itself reports in a 10 year report (no longer available online), there's much to do.

--- end 2007 article --

So Much Spent. So Little Accomplished

I went to Philadelphia with high hopes, of reinforcements for organizations like my Cabrini Connections program, which already was working with inner-city youth.

And for the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which was a strategy to help build and sustain mentor-rich non-school programs in every high poverty neighborhood.

That help never came. Instead there was a lot of re-inventing of the wheel, with new people starting new initiatives with limited information.  Of those in power, few have ever come to me to ask "Dan, can we learn from your efforts?"

Bigger picture.

In 2017 I used the map below in an article titled "Pain and suffering throughout the world - how do we respond?

Overlays on this map could show poverty concentrations. They could show health disparities. They could show environmental issues that cause people to leave homes looking for other places to survive and raise families. They could also show conflict zones, terror attacks, and many more  pain and suffering locations.

View this concept map and see examples of the type of information platforms that are available.

I suspect other versions of this map could show places where wealthy people are extracting profit from the suffering of others, either as manufactures of weapons of war, or as manufacturers and/or financiers who extract resources from the land and oceans. I don't have a map showing this.

 Below is one of my graphics, with a map of Chicago. The oil-well icons symbolize programs helping kids grow safely from birth to adult lives and jobs that enable families to live beyond poverty.

There are a lot of places, just in Chicago, where people need help, for many years. There are even more places, throughout the world where similar help is needed, along with many other kinds of  help.

So how do we motivate the people with wealth, as well as those who can only spare a few dollars, and a few hours of volunteer time, to get involved with one or more places, then stay involved for many years, or until the problem is solved.

I don't have an answer. And, unless people read my article and share it with others, my questions won't be seen, and I won't be in the thinking and conversation with others who are looking at the same problems as I am.

So, please read and share my articles.

Then, send me a contribution to help me pay the bills, so I can keep writing these and keeping my web library on line.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Connecting People, Ideas and Inner City Youth

Ten years ago, in 2009, I posted an article using this map of the Austin neighborhood of Chicago's West side with headline of "West Side Community can't fight gun violence alone."

In my 2009 article I pointed to a July 21, 2009 Chicago SunTimes  column by Mary Mitchell which was about the Austin (Chicago West Side) community's Number 1 ranking for weapons violations in the past 90 days. Her plea was for tougher gun laws so more young offenders will know they will go to prison, and think twice about carrying a gun.

She ended her article by saying "We need to do more to stop these offenders".

Ten years later, and that's' still true.  Too many in Chicago are still fighting this battle, working alone, or in silos, of a few organizations, research groups and resource providers.

Mayor Daley was still Mayor of Chicago then. Rham Emanuel had not yet been elected. Barack Obama had just become President. There was a lot of optimism.

Sadly, I doubt that any of these leaders, or any who have been trying to reduce violence and create more opportunities for kids growing up in high poverty areas of Chicago or other big cities, read my 2009 blog article, or have read many that I wrote before then, or since then.

Too bad.  Since I led non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago from 1975-2011, and created the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to help fill all high poverty areas with similar programs, maybe I've some ideas that might be worth looking at.

Below is a Chicago Tribune story written about the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1995, talking about a "Master Plan for saving our kids". 

view this story here

The Master Plan was just developing at that time.

In 1995 the Tutor/Mentor Connection was just two years old. We had held the first three Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences, published our first program directory, and were launching the first Chicagoland Tutor/Mentor Volunteer Recruitment campaign that year.

We had not yet launched our first web site, or the on-line tutor/mentor program locator. Social media was science fiction. Yahoo groups had not yet begin. We were just developing our #GIS mapping capacity and had not yet learned to use concept maps to visualize strategies.

Thus, our "master plan" had just put seeds in the ground.  I've been watering and nurturing these every week since then, with whatever resources I could find.

Below is a timeline, showing highlights of what we built from 1994 to 2011, despite inconsistent funding and major disruptions like losing Montgomery Ward as host and major sponsor, then suffering through economic collapses following the 2001 technology bubble burst, the 9/11 terror attack and economic collapse, and the financial sector depression, starting in 2008.

1992-present Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC time line

Below is a second map, showing work I've done to maintain the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago and share its ideas and resources with the world, since 2011.  This map shows work with interns between 2006 and 2015 who came from Chicago area and South Korean universities. It also shows connections with educators from around the world, via a Connected Learning #clmooc network on social media.
sharing ideas since 2012 - click here

If you take the time to browse through past articles on this blog, or visit all the sections on the site you'll see more than 1000 articles focused on filling high poverty areas with mentor rich programs where volunteer tutors and mentors help kids grow up safely and move through school and into jobs and careers.

There is a lot of information, the result of more than 40 years of leading a single tutor/mentor program in Chicago while also trying to find ways to get thousands of people involved in strategic thinking, learning and acting that would make such programs available to more people.

See graphic in this article
The graphic at the right shows that since 1994 I've had inconsistent support, and major set backs, in efforts to fully develop and implement the Master Plan describe in 1994. 

Current news stories show we're facing many of the same problems, so that means there is still opportunity for new leaders to adopt and energize these ideas.

Since 2011 I've not had a nonprofit organization supporting me and while I've been trying to find new partners or universities who would use my history to rebuild the Tutor/Mentor Connection to have greater impact over the next 25 years, I've not yet succeeded.

I've been getting older, which means there has been more urgency to find these partners.  I've said to many "What if I get hit by a car, and I am killed?"  Who is prepared, or interested, in carrying this work forward.

Well, I did get hit by a car, on April 1, 2019. Fortunately, a fractured leg and shoulder were my worst injuries.

But, what if it had been worse.

Everything I have learned, and that I share on my web sites would potentially (likely) be lost.

I don't want that to happen. I hope someone with deep pockets but no vision of where to direct her wealth, will start to look at my web sites and blogs, follow me on Twitter, @tutormentor team, or on LinkedIN, or Facebook, and think about how they might be the lamp that lights the way for this work to go forward.