Saturday, April 18, 2020

After Covid19: Visions for the Future

Have you ever had an experience, where you just randomly dropped into a conversation, and found it to be one of the best you've had in a long time? It happened to me on Wednesday, April 15. I knew that Valerie Leonard was hosting a ZOOM conversation at 2pm that day, and recognized some of the guests, but I was not certain I'd have time to join in. Then at 1:45 pm my day opened, and I went to Facebook, found the link, and you can watch the video to see what we talked about.  Here's the recording.

This was one of the best one hours that I have spent on-line in a long time. Let me introduce you to the participants.

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Oscar Rivero, Ronan Perennes and Marcela Calderon are students in a marketing class at Roosevelt University in Chicago, which is led by Valerie F. Leonard, who also is the founder of a consulting platform called Non-Profit Utopia.

Oscar is from Mexico and Ronan is from France (and was in Paris while talking with us in the ZOOM meeting.) Marcella is from Downers Grove, a Chicago suburb.  If I get a link to the class blog I'll post it here in a few days.

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To the right is a screen shot showing other participants. Valerie had invited Shelby Parchman, founder of InUrban Strategies, LLC and Xavier Ramey, CEO of Justice Informed, LLC., to be guest speakers, then posted the invitation for others to join in.  Mike Trout, founder of the YMEN Chicago youth organization in the North Lawndale community on Chicago's West side joined in, as did Will Chatman, Program Manager for YMEN.  JP Paulus of DoGooder Consulting also participated, along with myself.

Mike introduces Dan Bassill

The first part of the meeting was introductions, and when it came to my turn, my mic was not working.  After a short silence, Mike Trout spoke up, saying "I could almost speak for Dan", and he did. Open the image at the left or listen to the video to see Mike's intro of me.

I first met Mike in the early 1990s when he was forming YMEN. In the late 1990s we had a conversation where he said "At first, I did not trust what you were saying, but after seeing you repeat your message over, and over, I really believe you."  You can see that from his introduction of me. Thank you Mike!

During the introductions each of Valerie's students told a bit about who they are, where they came from and how they were all connected through the soccer program at Roosevelt, where Oscar is head coach, and through a youth soccer program in Pilsen, where all three are involved.

Xavier Ramey - TED Talk

I had heard Xavier Ramey speak at several events in the past couple of years, and you can get to know him better in this TED talk

He led off his part of the ZOOM meeting saying “The situation we're in now is a moment of harvest, and of planting, as well. We're harvesting what we planted together before, such as shadowy social safety net.

What excites me is that “so many people who have been alarm sounders; seeing now how they are organizing, and asking,  What can our economy look like?”

After the introductions Valerie led the group into a conversation about socialism, pointing to comments Oscar had made during class a few weeks previous.

The next 30 minutes focus on student and panel member thoughts on this topic.

Oscar said,   “A lot of people stigmatize that word, Socialism, and confuse it with Communism. They entail different systems.

It's about balance. What capitalism could do with some socialist ideas that people have."   We need to revisit our ideologies and come up with ideas better than we had."

Marcella said, “For the most part if you already didn't start ahead, then you will never get ahead.  It's important for people who recognize that things can be done differently and that the only option isn’t to keep doing things the same,  is to be morphing that and sharing it with people who don't want to believe that's the case."

Ronan said, In France, much different than what's happening in United States, because we're already a much more socialist country"

Since my mic did not work I was typing my comments into the chat box on ZOOM. Valerie read this post:

“I'd love to hear student thoughts of how marketing tactics could be applied to building public will needed to remove the stigma of socialism.”

Xavier and Mike focused on the idea of "American Individualism".

Xavier led of with:   At the core of this is the question of American individualism.  What we're being pressed on right now with Covid19, is the reality of our community commitments to one another, meaning public policy, government, social sector programming, and these types of things, the “community” stuff, the “not my personal family, not my personal friends, the what we have together if we commit to one another, has shown that it has a lot of gaps.   The value of our public relationships is so shallow that it can't provide for everyone."

Mike and Xavier have talked about this for many years. I asked Mike if Xavier had ben part of YMEN and he said "Xavier was a student in YMEN starting in 6th grade and stayed involved through his college graduation from DePaul University. A year after he graduated college he returned to YMEN to join our staff as the Director of Development and Marketing. Where he worked for 5 years before joining the team at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago."

This long-term connection of youth with a site-based program is exactly what well-organized, consistently funded youth tutor/mentor programs can foster. It's what I've been working to help make happen across the Chicago region since forming the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993.

Mike added this to the ZOOM conversation: 

You got this American individualism which manifests on a bigger scale as American nationalism.

If we'd only learn from other countries who do things in a more communal and in a better way.

As you bring up models outside of the the American construct, you kind of go against the visceral reaction  that we have as Americans that say “no, no, we're the greatest country! How do you get people to acknowledge that other people out there are doing it better, and we need to learn from them.

There's a visceral reaction to word socialism. You can't market your way out of it. 

We need a different word, like the word justice, something for all."

ENOUGH - Educate yourself

I've only pulled a few snippets of conversation from this hour long session. There's much more.  
I hope the students who participated, and others who view this, will take time to write and share their own reflection.  My #clmooc friend Terry Elliott, a college professor in Kentucky, has been trying to help me find a way to pull video clips from the master video. I've not been able to do that, but perhaps someone else who writes about this will succeed.

In the closing ZOOM meeting thoughts Shelby said, What are you doing now to do something post-covid? It's a good time to take a step back and think more clearly about what this world looks like, and how do you navigate that world?

We already have socialism. It's a bad word. But we already have it. Any time someone gets a check from the government, that's socialism.

Oscar added some closing thoughts when he said 

At the end of the day I think we have lost track of our humanity.

And like what true values of humanity should entail. Why are we in this world?

If you don't have a spirituality, forget religion, but just a spirituality of what a human being should be thinking of and what his purpose is in this world, then you start seeing people have that, like “its just about me and my community", and being close minded. 

The best people in the world have to look at how others do t hings.

I think there's much to think about from this conversation. I believe I and most working Americans have been brainwashed since birth, by nationalist and capitalist, self-interested parties.  Here's a few articles from my web library that might stretch your thinking.

* America's Hidden Philosophy - When Cold War philosophy tied rational choice theory to scientific method, it embedded the free-market mindset in US society

* America's Long (unaddressed) History of Class - click here

* 'Democracy In Chains' Traces The Rise Of American Libertarianism - click here

See work like this - here
The ENOUGH graphic and this "Is that ALL?" graphic were both created by interns who worked with me between 2006 and 2015. You can see these and other work on this page.

My role in the ZOOM meeting was to focus attention on the on-going communications and public education and engagement efforts that will be needed, by many people, reaching millions of other people, in order to create a world we want in the future.

The projects done by interns who worked with me are models of what other students (and adults) could be doing to share ideas and connect with others.  There is little costs involved. It just takes time.

The video above could be one of your first projects.

Thanks for reading. Let's find paths that take us forward together.

PS:  Yesterday as I was working on this article I received a call from Nathan Harris, who lives in Indianapolis. Nate started attending Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conferences around 2000 and that led to IUPUI tech department rebuilding the T/MC website in 2006 and hosting it through 2011. It's still hosted by the tech department head, but on a different server.  This is just another example of the long-term connections I keep trying to help grow from many youth programs in Chicago and around the country, like the YMEN program in North Lawndale.

Nate called to ask how I was and to tell me he and his wife Carrie were sending a small contribution.  If  you click this link, you can do that too.

Update 4-21-2020 - there will be many articles written on "what to do after Covid-19". Here's one from the Democracy Collaborative titled "Owning the Future: After COVID-19, a new era of community wealth building"

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