Monday, June 13, 2022

29 Years Later - Children's Needs Still Not Being Met

 Like 20 million others, my wife and I watched the first Jan. 6th Congressional Hearing last week, and I watched the second session this morning.  I'm following many conversations on Twitter and many paint a distressing picture of the future, as one group of Americans seems to want to take the country back to the 1950s and impose a minority rule over the rest of America.  

At the same time I'm following the war in Ukraine, and conflict in other parts of the world.  And these are just a few of the challenges facing us daily.  

I created this concept map a few years ago to show challenges facing the US as POTUS46 became president. I've added new challenges, such as Covid19 and Ukraine since then. 

With all of these issues facing us daily, how do I continue my focus on helping kids living in high poverty areas get the extra support needed to help them move more safely from birth-to-work?

I've written about how we keep focus amidst these challenges several times since 2005.  Below are parts of an article written in 2017, with the headline "24 years later - ---" 


While the US focuses on the tragedy unfolding in Texas and Louisiana, I keep thinking of what will be needed for decades to help people in these areas recover from these disasters.

I also keep adding links to this Climate Crisis article, showing that disasters like what's happening in Texas are unfolding throughout the world.

Since 2005 I've written a few articles following natural disasters. They all have the same pace. Urgent need and huge attention and outpouring of help as the tragedy unfolds.  Few using maps, so many areas where help is needed get little attention. In the years following one tragedy another happens and attention goes to a new crisis. Keeping attention and resources flowing five, 10 and 15 years after the tragedy is almost impossible.

That same flow of attention follows urban violence.

I've been reducing my paper trail and am scanning some of my news stories into my computer. Added this one from 1993, which is a letter to the editor written to the Chicago Tribune by Florence Cox, President of the Chicago Board of Education

I highlighted one section where she says:
"We must begin to realize that the needs of Chicago-area children are not being met, and in neglecting those needs, we neglect our own future as a prosperous and safe city."

Here's another article with some quotes from other stories, showing how difficult it is for this nation to focus on complex problems that require long-term attention and resources to be solved.

When I started the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 one of four strategies was to generate more consistent attention to issues of poverty, violence, inequality, etc. drawing needed support to all of the non-school tutor/mentor programs operating in the Chicago region. I started using maps to show where they were most needed and where existing programs are located.  

I found another set of notes, with quotes I'd written down during speeches given during the 1997 President's Summit for America's Future, held in Philadelphia, PA.  I was there as a delegate from Chicago and the Tutor/Mentor Connection was there as a Teaching Example exhibitor.

In the letter to the editor and in the Summit speeches, leaders are calling on Americans to become involved in solving complex problems.  The problem is, they have not made this call for people's involvement every day since then, and they have not pointed to web libraries and directories showing information people need to learn from, and lists of existing programs who need their help.

That's still a problem.

Every week for the past 40 years I've spent time trying to connect inner city kids with workplace volunteers in organized, non-school tutor/mentor programs that help these kids move through school and into adult lives.

At different times, like right now, keeping attention focused on this has been more than difficult.  The COVID19 virus seems to be never-ending. The impact on poor people, who can least afford it, will be greatest. 

Maybe the current political divide and growing religious extremism is to be feared even more.  These are people who have never given up on the ideas of one race dominating another, of men, controlling women.  Of one religion over all others. Of minority rule.  

Yet, while we struggle through these challenges and disasters, I feel we still need to look long term. Kids living in high poverty area will need the extra support of non-school youth tutor, mentor and learning programs even more in coming months and years.  So let me share to graphics that visualize strategies I feel we need to focus on.

We all want the same outcomes: More youth stay in school, are safe in non-school hours, graduate, and move to jobs and careers.

To get the result we want we need to do the work shown at the bottom of this pyramid.
At the bottom of this pyramid I show that we need to build a knowledge base, then draw people together to use this information in an on-going planning and actions cycle.  This article describes this diagram.  It can be used in an area as small as a few blocks, or as large as an entire country.

This pyramid could be used to outline steps to overcome the COVID19 virus. Or to deny the agenda of far right conservative activists.

At the top would be results we want. At the bottom should be information aggregated from all over the world to help us understand these issues and how to fight them.  A sub section of that library should be a collection of information focused on specific topics. Visit the Tutor/Mentor web library to see how I do this. 

The second graphic I'm sharing focuses on INFLUENCE.
We must influence what resource providers do; not just what non-profit leaders do.

Having led a non profit youth program for 20 years I know that I was expected to operate a great program, get outstanding results and find the money to pay for all the work that needed to be done.  Think for a  moment of a fish bowl, with hundreds of small fish. When you put a little bit of food in the bowl there is a frenzy of every fish trying to get some of the food. Not all succeed.  That's the problem with how our non -profit funding system works.

In this graphic, which you can read about in these articles, I show t hat we need to Influence what resource providers, business partners, media and policy-makers do, not just what non profit programs do, so that there is a consistent flow of resources to every program, in every area where tutor/mentor programs are needed, so they can all become great at what they do to help kids safely through school.

Here's two more graphics to consider:

If you're at an event, how well can you share your ideas?
I created this graphic as a result of attending large gatherings for many years, where there were great speakers, but there was little interaction between the speakers and individuals in the audience, or between the people who sat at different tables. My goal was to encourage event organizers to create on-line activities that paralleled what was happening in the room, and that kept participants engaged and interacting after the event ended.

Hashtags of Twitter chats
I created this concept map to archive Twitter conversations that I've been part of. Many are on-going. A few are archives.

All of these in some way relate to efforts by different groups of people to help build support systems for kids living in high poverty neighborhoods.

You can click the link at the bottom of each node and join the conversation yourself.  Some of these should have much greater involvement than they have had so far. It's up to event organizers to encourage this, as well as the rest of us.

Very few do this well.  Even after two years of COVID19 and countless ZOOM meetings, I find few event organizers trying to create some form of online interaction that continues after the event.   

Yet, there have never been so many opportunities to grow a single event into a year-round community.

Look at the issues map at the top of this article, and my hashtag map.  Who's talking with others around these topics?  Yesterday on Twitter I saw a post that visualized people within a conversation, defined by a hashtag.  I created my own version, showing interaction with @tutormentorteam.

Mapping conversations is one way to know who is connecting with whom. It's a step toward trying to get more people and talent connected into on-going conversations.  That's the big challenge.  Read some of the articles I've written about this in the past.

Let's turn this negative into an opportunity to learn more ways to bring people together into year-round learning, idea sharing, relationship building and collective action that leads to brighter futures for all kids living in high poverty areas of the US and the world.

I'm on these social media pages. Let's connect.

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