Friday, February 21, 2020

Maps, Planning, Network Building

I have been trying to harness the power of geographic maps since 1993 in an effort to support the growth of mentor-rich, non-school, youth development programs in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago. Below are two news stories that illustrate that commitment.
At left is an article from the 1994 Chicago SunTimes; At right a Nov. 2015 Chicago Tribune story
My goal has been that leaders in business, philanthropy, media, politics, etc would use maps, and the information library I've been building since before the 1990s,  in planning that would support existing youth tutor, mentor and learning programs and help new ones start where more are needed.  Below is a concept map that visualizes this on-going map-based planning.

Using maps  in planning cycle - see cMap
Over the past few months I've been attending meetings hosted by Chicago's Mayor Lightfoot, focused on making non-school learning opportunities available to every youth in Chicago, particularly those that are most difficult to reach.  In these meetings the planning process being used by the Chicago Learning Exchange, and the Austin Coming Together group have been featured.

At the left is one map from this report, highlighted in this Northwestern University School of Education and Social Policy article.  The map is part of an analysis of the availability of computer sciences programs in different Chicago community areas and shows places in the city where no known CS programs exist. It's one of many maps in the report.

The Austin Coming Together group has has been using maps like this in their own Quality of Life Planning.  Read the reports on their website and you'll see numerous examples of maps being used as part of the planning process.

As I attend meetings and connect on social media I'm sharing ideas and I'm learning new strategies and technologies that can be used to help build larger and closer on-line communities of people who focus on common issues.

I attended the Chicago Learning Exchanges Computer Science Affinity Group meeting on Thursday and at the start of the meeting the facilitator said "let's get to know who is in the room".  In most gatherings I've attended this involves people standing and giving their name, organization, and a short introduction. At #ChiHackNight that is limited to three words!

That was not the case yesterday. We were invited to log into a Mentimeter site from our phones, tablets and PCs and enter a six digit code, then answer questions that asked who we were, what organization, our goals, etc.  Below is a Tweet I posted with a screen shot of one of the reports generated which were used by the meeting facilitator to help people know more about each other.

If I get slides from the meeting that show the Memtimeter information I'll update this blog with those.

The Mentimeter site reminds me of Group Systems meeting facilitation software that I was first introduced to in the early 1990s, and which probably influenced my passion for on-line interaction.

The text below is from a document titled "Best Practice in Facilitating Virtual Meetings" which was published in 2000.

click to enlarge

It enables "everyone to "talk at once" and makes all contributions available to other participants on their own terminals. The way comments are aggregated is similar to what Mentimeter does, and enables meeting leaders to help meeting participants quickly see where they agree, and where they disagree and more conversation is needed.  Read the entire article to learn more.

When I was working with Group Systems consultants in the late 1990s, the on-line versions of these tools were not available, and people were not yet gathering in online communities or social media sites. Yet the potential for large numbers of people to be contributing their own ideas to making Chicago a better place for everyone to live, has always driven my work.

How can one person change
the world? 

The graphic at the right is one I created more than a decade ago to visualize how a small group of people could change the world, if they could spread their ideas to more and more people who had the mix of talent and resources to implement their ideas.

I've never had advertising dollars so using social media and traditional news media have always been part of the strategies I've employed.  However it's really difficult to measure your impact.

I only have a few people giving me financial support now, since I've not been a 501-c-3- non profit since 2011, and a few are asking "what are you accomplishing?"

I feel that just maintaining an information library and making it freely available to the world is quite an accomplishment.  However, getting more people to find and use it is a huge challenge.  So I keep looking at tools that show network growth and my influence within a network.

Here's a Tweet that came across my desk this week.

This was looking at Tweets posted yesterday morning around Mayor Lightfoot's ChiSTEPSummit held yesterday in Chicago.  I was not there, but was connected online. Open the link to the Tweet Binder Report and it provides a fascinating amount of information about participants in that conversation, including my @tutormentorteam Tweets.

I've not yet had time to learn more about TweetBinder or Mentimeter but both look like useful tools to those who seek to bring people together to solve complex problems and who are looking for tools to help them understand who is gathering, and who still is missing.

I hope you will look at the examples of using maps in planning, along with these analysis tools, and will find them useful.   If you're interested in helping me apply them via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, let's connect.

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