Sunday, May 30, 2021

Why Dishonor Fallen Heroes?

Memorial Day 2021 -  This year is different from every past Memorial Day.   
While we continue to honor those brave men and women who have given their lives to defend and preserve American democracy, we dishonor their efforts by not uncovering and prosecuting the full level of conspiracy behind the attack on the United States Capital on January 6th of this year.

I hope that by this time next year this will have changed. 

Friday, May 28, 2021

Inspired by Edison; Inspired by Others.

In my Twitter feed today I came across a post by Emlyn Cameron, containing a podcast essay that he wrote following the death in 2020, of his father, Charles Cameron.  

I met Charles in the Social Edge forum in the mid 2000s and through conversations that he hosted there we developed a strong relationship that continued until his death.  I did a search on my blog to see what I had posted that pointed to these conversations

Since the Social Edge forum has not been active for the past decade I had to use the Internet archive to find links to some of the articles I had put in my blog prior to 2010.  This led me to do some searching for articles including "Social Edge" and I found a couple using this graphic and the idea of Thomas Edison inventing the light bulb, then an industry to distribute light to every home.

Here's a 2008 article where I showed how this conversation on Social Edge about design thinking included this paragraph:

"Thomas Edison created the electric lightbulb and then wrapped an entire industry around it. Edison’s genius lay in his ability to conceive of a fully developed marketplace, not simply a discrete device. He was able to envision how people would want to use what he made, and he engineered toward that insight."  

In an earlier article from 2006, I wrote this “After Thomas Edison invented the light bulb, he had to invent an industry to put light bulbs in every home. Imagine what it might have been like trying to think of every thing needed to make that happen, and not having much of a blueprint to follow. 

I wonder how many are thinking like Edison, of all of the actions needed to end poverty and racism in America, or the world. For volunteer-based tutoring/mentoring to be part of the lives of more youth living in high poverty neighborhoods, and to stay engaged until each youth is starting a job/career, we need to be just as creative, and persistent as leaders like Edison and Dr Martin Luther King, Jr. 

We need to build an industry that can provide the ideas, dollars, advertising, tech support and leadership needed by CBOs in every neighborhood in every big city. We need to make these resources continuously available for many years at thousands of tutor, mentor and learning programs in Chicago, in Detroit, New York and Los Angeles, and in every major cities around the world."

Since starting this blog in 2005 I've written hundreds of articles using maps to emphasize  the need for well-organized, mentor-rich youth programs in every high poverty neighborhood.  And I've used concept maps to visualize the team of talented people who need to be helping each program grow, as well as the many different types of mentoring, tutoring and learning each program needs to over, over many years. 

As we head into another weekend and a new month I repeat these messages.  I invite you to read some of my articles then share them with people in your network.  Become the leader of groups who "think like Edison" and envision the "fully developed marketplace" of learning and enrichment opportunities needed in every high poverty area of the country.

Start conversations like this one hosted by Charles Cameron on Social Edge, in 2010. Its title was "Theory of Change: A Collaborative Tool?"  Share the conversation on Twitter, LinkedIN and Facebook so I and others can find it and join in.  That's what drew me to Charles back in 2005.

Thanks for reading and thank you for sharing.  If you are able to help me pay the bills please visit this page and use the PayPal button to send a small contribution. 

If you'd like my help understanding the ideas I'm sharing let's schedule a ZOOM call.  

Monday, May 24, 2021

Predicted skills shortage by 2030

If you've read many of my blog articles you've seen this graphic, or a version of it.  It shows a goal of helping kids born or living in poverty areas move through school and into adult lives, with skills and networks that enable them to have meaningful, decent-paying jobs, that enable them to raise their own kids free from the grip of poverty.

In this article I want to focus on skills. And habits.

Below is a Tweet that I commented on this week.  I was listening to Patrick T. Harker of The Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia, on a  @washingtonpost live event. He was talking about an impending skills shortage in workforce.  

Earlier that day I had received an email from Dr. Ed Gordon, of Imperial Corp. Consulting, with his latest White Paper, talking about the expected skills shortage. So I shared Ed's article in the Tweet, I hope readers will be interested enough to take a look at the video and Ed's White Paper.

Disclosure: I've known Ed since the early 2000s. For a few years he served on the Advisory Council of the Tutor/Mentor Connection. So he's been writing about this for more than 20 years.  

10-2021 update. Here's a YouTube presentation of Ed Gordon introducing his Job Shock book. 

So, what does it take to help kids develop skills and learning habits that would enable them to succeed in school (and meet business needs for skilled workers)?   What motivates some kids to develop learning habits, while others seem indifferent?  Educators have been struggling with this for decades.

Which comes first? Habits. Or skills?  

Earlier this week my #clmooc network of educators shared a TED talk delivered by Laura Ritchie with an invitation to view her presentation and comment on it, using Vialogues.   Laura's message of skill development was one of self-agency, "Yes, I can." was the message.

As I watched her TED talk, I thought back to the Illinois Wesleyan Commencement address which I watched on May 2.  Geisha Williams, the first Latina CEO of a Fortune 200 was the speaker and her message was "Why not Me?"  

I posted this Tweet with links to both.
This is the challenge.  All kids need to have the "Yes, I can" and "Why not me?" internal engines driving their learning.  In the tutor/mentor programs  I led from 1975-2011, the goal was to stimulate this thinking through the volunteer tutors and mentors we matched with kids and through the activities the program offered.  At best, this was "hit and miss" with no "silver bullet" success that reached every participant.

I created this concept map several years ago to visualize the many different systemic barriers that kids in poverty have to overcome as they move through school and into adult lives.  Volunteers and organized non-school programs are one resource that can help kids and families overcome these challenges, and my mission for the past 28 years has been to try to help such programs grow in more places.

However, the need to instill the "Yes, I can" and "Why not me?" spark in every child, reaches beyond poverty.   Instilling in kids the habits, motivations, of learning is the challenge. Some kids seem to have this naturally, or it has been modeled for them by parents, siblings, neighborhoods, since birth.  

What can we learn from others?  The web library I've been building since the early 1990s is an attempt to aggregate information that anyone can use to try to understand the challenges facing youth, parents and educators and to learn how some people are addressing those challenges.  If an idea is working in one place, why not borrow it and apply it to many places?

This concept map shows the four main sections of my library. Click on small boxes  under each node to dig deeper. 

I've been trying to make it easier for people to navigate my library for more than 20 years.  I wrote this article last November, talking about learning libraries.  I included the World Economic Forum (WEF) library as an example of what's possible. Below is a section that focuses on "Education and Skills".

When we created the first Tutor/Mentor Connection website in the late 1990s we  used the hub/spoke design on the home page to help people navigate to different sections of the library.  In the year's since I've seen other websites with this design feature, but have never been able to build that into my own library.

Thus, I keep pointing to what others are doing, and the information they host.  These are just a few of the many, many libraries of information available to help people find better ways to help children become life-long learners, constantly supported by the "Yes, I can" and "Why not me?" internal motivations.

Finding time to dig into this information, make sense of it, then apply it in one or many places is a huge challenge.  The graphic below shows a strategy I've recommended for many years.

The information available to everyone is represented by the circle at the right side of the graphic. Below the big circle are smaller circles, representing places where small groups of people can discuss the information in the library.  To the left of the big circle are two graphics, representing what each person can do to encourage others to look at the information and join the discussion.

If you share this article in your social media you're taking the "YOU" role.  If you start a discussion of this article in your faith group, workplace, fraternity, and/or family network, you're taking a deeper role.

If you discover other resources, such as more useful platforms/libraries, and you share them with me so I can add them to the Tutor/Mentor library, you're taking an even greater role.

If you do these steps regularly, perhaps we can get closer to answers that are used in thousands of places.  That's the goal.

I'm on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIN. I look forward to connecting with you.  

11-20-2021 update - The Infrastructure bill passed in 2021 does not include funds for training to produce workers to fill all the jobs created by the bill. Read commentary by JFF CEO @MariaKFlynn 

7-28-2022 update - not everyone thinks the problem is a skills shortage. Read this article by Harold Jarche

Sunday, May 16, 2021

Enough is Enough. Adopt this Strategy to Help Youth

Below is a concept map that I've shared since 2005 showing a commitment I feel needs to be made by many leaders, if we're ever going to build the comprehensive system of supports kids living in high poverty areas need to move more safely and successfully through school  and into adult lives.

open concept map -

I've listened to leaders for the past 30 years who talk about helping kids, but have not found any using maps or visualizations the way architects and engineers use blueprints to create a shared vision of work that needs to be done.  Or recruiting teams of people to support youth development, tutor and/or mentor programs reaching k-12 youth in EVERY high poverty area of cities where they live and/or do business.

Or using their media and visibility to draw volunteers and donors directly to programs already operating in their cities, the way this graphic visualizes. 

It's so easy to create a video, that I challenge leaders, from middle school through senior citizen, to create a video reading this strategy map to signal their commitment. 

I created three close ups, to provide a script for what people might say in such a video.

Look at the left hand side:  Follow the lines connecting the nodes on the map, which start at the top with "my goal is".

Then, look at the right hand side, showing that the strategy recruits workplace volunteers, to support comprehensive k-12 programs, that reach youth in high poverty neighborhoods with a range of needed supports.

Look back at the top of the graphic.  The vision is achieved by following a four-part strategy, shown by another concept map. The vision is also achieved by recruiting other leaders to also adopt the strategy.

The words are there.  This strategy applies in any city where there are inequalities and wealth gaps, with areas of people living in concentrated, segregated poverty.  That means youth or adults from any city could look at these maps, then create videos, animations or other types of communication, with their Mayor, local celebrities and sports stars, CEOs, faith leaders, and community activists sharing the message and the commitment visualized in this concept map.

If enough people make this commitment, and renew it from year-to-year for the next decade or two, we might begin to have more mentor rich learning programs in high poverty areas with the on-going support each needs to hire and retain talented staff, who can attract kids and volunteers, and keep them involved as the kids move from elementary school, through middle school and high school, then on toward jobs and adult lives.

Anyone can create such videos. It would be a great time for this video to appear on social media, with leaders showing their commitment to the strategy by saying "be a volunteer" and pointing to directories of youth serving programs in their communities, which were created as part of step 1 of the four part strategy.

It's not enough to wish more leaders would adopt this strategy, we need to know who is so we can recognize them in front of their peers, as a strategy to influence more people to also adopt the strategy.  Take a look at the concept map shown below:

I'm sure you've heard the "It takes of village to raise a child" statement.  What this map visualizes are the many different stakeholders in any community, organized in clusters.  If you've looked at my concept  maps, you'll see that at the bottom are nodes linking to other web pages, or other concept maps.  For instance, at some point in the future you might click on the circle with "legal community" and open a new map, where "legal community" is the  hub and the spokes lead to the many different types of businesses and professions make up the legal community.

Ideally, if you went to their websites you'd find a version of this strategy map, featuring the company leaders, signaling their commitment.   

Below is another presentation that shows ROLE OF LEADERS who adopt the commitment shown on this strategy map.  

If you've read this far, and opened the different links under each node on the strategy map,  you'll find this 4-part strategy. These are the actions that must happen in every city for leaders to be able to keep their commitment.

Read article outlining these steps - click here

Thus, if people were adopting the strategy map, and putting a version of it on their own web sites, we should be able to put links from this village map to their pages, thus aggregating links to leaders who are making a long-term, comprehensive commitment, to help kids grow up.

If you're tired of reading about violence and inequality, then say ENOUGH, and make an effort to adopt these ideas. 

I can't do t his by myself. I need the help of many to spread the word, gather the info, update the maps, etc.  

However, if you do adopt this strategy and put it on your web site, please send me a link so I can put a link to your site in my village map, share it with the world.

If you want to act as a producer and/or sponsor and help me re-do my own versions of these videos and strategy presentations, I want to hear from you. I need your help.

You can connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIN or Instagram. Find links on this page.

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

How would you visualize these ideas?

I've used visualizations to communicate ideas for more than 40 years. My work in retail advertising, from 1973 to 1990, contributed to this habit.  However, my need to share strategies of the volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs I led from 1975 to 2011 also encouraged visual thinking.

At the left is a graphic I used in the mid 1980s to describe the volunteer leadership team helping me lead the tutor/mentor program at Montgomery Ward's headquarters in Chicago.

At the right is a page from one of the print newsletters that I created in between 1993 and 2002.  This includes two elements that I've used often.  1) The "hub and spoke" design, representing the many different elements and types of mentoring and learning that could be made available to youth via an organized, site-based tutor/mentor program; and 2) a map of Chicago, with high poverty areas highlighted, and where organized tutor/mentor programs have been most needed for the past 40 years.

I started putting graphics into Power Point essays in the late 1990s and began putting them on this page in the early 2000s. 

I started this blog in 2005 and began embedding visualizations and maps in articles in 2006.  Here's one of the earliest examples. 

You could do a search for "tutor/mentor connection" plus any single word in this TAG cloud, then look at the images feature, and you'd find many of my graphics.  

You could also visit, where I've posted many. 

A year or so ago I created a presentation that I posted on Slideshare, showing just a few of the visualizations that I've created. I've posted that below.

This is one of nearly 60 presentations that I share on

I host a similar number on  Until December 2000 these were two different companies, but both are now owned by  The presentation format differs between the two and for now, there's no cost to view presentations on SlideShare.  That probably will change  under the new management.

Between 2005 and 2015 interns worked with me every year, for as short a time as a week and as long as a semester, or a full year. I asked each to read my blog articles and look at my visualizations, then create their own interpretations.  Visit this page and you can see much of the work that was done.  Visit this page to see how I coached interns to do this work. 

Many of the visualizations I use in this blog were originally created as  part of multi-page presentations.  That means that there are probably hundreds of ideas that I've not pulled into articles, or that interns have not yet looked at.

That's where I'll close this article. With an invitation. 

Students in high schools and colleges, volunteers in business or faith groups, anyone concerned about the well-being of youth living in high poverty areas, could be taking my place in the photo at the left. You could be showing your own interpretations of the ideas I've been sharing and recruiting leaders, donors and volunteers to use these ideas in thousands of places.  

My voice is too small to have the impact needed. Add your own voice and others will join. Become a movement that changes how youth programs are supported and how they support kids as they move through school and into adult lives.

If you have questions I'd love to hear from you.  Post a comment, or connect with me on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIN.  

Thursday, May 06, 2021

Learning Journey from Past Week

Below I'm sharing some posts from Twitter that show different learning and engagement that I've been part of from the past week.  Visit @tutormentorteam on Twitter and see more like these.

This is from May 5.  I watched a ZOOM event that showed how far every state in the USA is from meeting the United Nation's Global Goals.  I'm not sure that many actually think that these relate to the USA.  Visit the website and look at the data.

This from May 3.
I met the founder of the @ChiBuildings Chicago Cityscape site a few years ago at ChiHackNight. I would love to have this talent working with me to re-energize the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and the GIS mapping capacity that the Tutor/Mentor Connection had between 1994 and 2011. 

On Sunday, May 2
, I watched the Commencement ceremonies of Illinois Wesleyan University, where I earned a BA in History in 1968 and was awarded a Doctor of Humane Letters degree in 2001. The keynote speaker was Geisha Williams, the only Latina CEO of a Fortune 200 company.  She's also the wife of one of my Acacia fraternity brothers!  View the video to see here speech, then ask yourself, "Why not me?"
Here's a blog article featuring Geisha Williams and the "Why not me" video message.  Here's her address at the IWU commencement. 

This from April 28.  I watched this #ConnectedKidsSummit and Tweeted out the link to other groups focusing on the Digital Divide. One of the panel members was former Cabrini Connections volunteer, ?Courtland Madlock, who now works for US Cellular. 

This from April 28. 
The City of Chicago has launched a new planning initiative under the title of We Will Chicago. Maps were used to show indicators of inequality and need in different parts of Chicago.  Use the hashtag #WeWillChicago to follow these Tweets.

During the past week I posted graphics from one of the folders on my PC. My goal is that a) these influence thinking; and b) these motivate people to create and share their own versions.

Finally, I've started my annual review of links in the list of Chicago tutor and/or mentor programs that I've hosted since 1993. I've already had to fix a few broken links and delete a couple of programs that no longer are operating. As I did this I posted Tweets like the one below. My goals were a) draw attention, volunteers and donors to these programs; b) model an activity that I hope thousands of others will duplicate, raising much greater awareness and influencing a much stronger flow of resources to these programs than what I can do by myself.

I've also completed updating most of the PDF presentations I have hosted on and since 2011.   Many of the graphics I share come from these presentations that were originally created using PowerPoint.  

All of this work is intended to influence the work people do to make mentor-rich, non-school learning programs available in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities, and to motivate programs to share information on their websites that helps others learn what they do, and how they do it.  By borrowing ideas from others, and having greater access to the dollars and talent needed to implement the ideas, each program can constantly increase their impact on the lives of youth and the volunteers who work with them.

Thanks for reading.  I look forward to connecting with you.