Monday, May 8, 2017

Building a "Fellowship" on the Web.

Last week I posted this article, with a TED talk presented by Steve Whitla, based in the UK.  Today Steve sent me a Tweet, pointing me to a thoughtful article he'd written, in response to my article. He focused on the three challenges I'd offered in my article, and expanded on them from his own perspective.

I  hope you'll take time to read it.

1)  Challenges of Making Maps - Steve recognizes a truth that I've understood for many years.  In the past I've had people question the value of the maps I've created, saying people in poor areas don't have access to the technology to view the maps. I said, "I know.  I'm trying to reach the people who don't live in poor areas who have the resources to make technology and access to my maps available to people in poor neighborhoods, and who will help me collect the data, build the maps, and train people to use them."  In Steve's article these would be the "Gentry" who supported map-making in the middle ages.

2) The Challenge of Motivating Growing Numbers of People to look at the maps.  I love the reference to Bilbo, from The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. I've read the series several times.  My graphic above draws from another fantasy series, the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan. In both books a small group of people band together to save the world.  In both books the 'hero' was a reluctant 'hero'.  I never sought the role I'm in. It grew on me over many years.   In Steve's article, he focuses on the 5% of people in an organization who might already be interested in an idea.  My efforts have focused on the same 5%, or even 1%, of people in the world who might be interested in the work I'm doing. That's like looking for a needle in the universe!  Yet, that's how I connected with Steve.

I created this concept map to show the different skills and networks I'm trying to bring into my fellowship.  I first used the Wheel of Time graphic in 2011, in this article.

3) The Role of Network Builder, Facilitator and Teacher.  In Steve's article he writes "If we're all looking a the same map, then we have a much more meaningful conversation."  That's what I think, too, but it takes us back to Challenge 1 and Challenge 2.

I've used this pyramid graphic often since the mid 1990s, such as in this article.  I've created a library of concept maps, that support the GIS maps. Steve's blog is full of visualizations.  If more people spend time trying to understand these, when we get together we are closer to a common frame of reference.

In my case, I feel that we all want kids to go safely through school and enter jobs and careers as contributing members of society. However, if someone is not doing the work at the bottom of the pyramid, of creating a map-based information system, it's hard to have a 'meaningful conversation' about actions each of us needs to take to make that support system available in all places where kids need extra help.

If people are not motivated to spend time looking at these articles, and our maps, our meetings lack the common understanding and frame of reference needed. Back to Challenge 2.

Final Challenge - Remaining Neutral - Steve added this since I did not mention it in my original article.  I think that if the data on the maps is accurate, anyone can use the map to develop strategies that support a common vision.  In articles on this blog I point to many data platforms, not just the interactive Tutor/Mentor Program Locator and maps the Tutor/Mentor Connection has created. Keeping the maps updated and accurate goes back to Challenge 1, which is finding the talent and resources to do this.

Another Challenge - Overcoming "Not Invented Here".  Over the 24 years that I've been doing this work, too many have started their own "fellowships", drawing support from political, business and civic leaders. Too few, like almost none, have reached out to say "What can I learn from your experiences? Or, "How can I help you?"   Here's one of several articles that focus on this challenge.

One more. It seems to me that Steve is writing about challenges within organizations, where there are many different power bases and hidden agendas. I'm writing about the challenge of mobilizing people from many different organizations and sectors of society - the village of people who need to take roles in raising kids and helping them move to productive adult lives.  They also have power bases and hidden agendas. They don't have the structure, and pay check, provided by corporations, which offer some motivation for people to work together.

That makes this even more difficult.

I can't express how pleased I was that Steve took time to read my original article and reflect on it on his blog. I've encouraged others to do the same, and created this concept map as a way to connect those people and their articles with each other.  I added a link to Steve's blog today.   In some ways, the people I point to are "companions" who I've been able to attract and connect in my own on-going efforts to have a positive impact on the world I live in.

I invite other readers to join us.

Saturday, May 6, 2017

Interactive Diversity Map

This is screenshot showing Chicago area, which I created using the interactive diversity map found at this site.   This article describes how the map was created.

Use for your own analysis of diversity and segregation in different parts of the US.  Create your own story maps.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Understanding Value of Maps and Systems Thinking

Today on Twitter one of my new followers was Steve Whitla, who's based in Oxford, England. Before I follow back I always look at the types of Tweets someone is posting.  At the top of Steve's page was a TED talk video, talking about the value of maps and systems thinking. I've pasted it below and hope you'll look at it.

As I watched this I saw much that resonates with work I've been doing for past 25 years

Below is one graphic that I've created that I thought of as I watched this talk. You can see an explanation of this graphic in this article.

As I listened to the TED talk, I saw three distinct challenges.

First is the work of collecting information and creating maps.  On the right side of my graphic is a map of Chicago, with overlays showing where poverty is concentrated. I have been building additional overlays showing where non-school tutor/mentor programs are located, with a goal of helping all of them get the resources needed to help kids through school. You can find many stories on this and the Tutor/Mentor blog that include maps that focus on this goal.

There's a significant cost involved in collecting the data for my maps, and keeping it current, and in making maps, or hosting maps on platforms like the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator.  As you watch the TED talk, keep in mind the work and cost involved in creating the mapping platforms that are described. I've never found much money, or consistent talent, to support my own efforts. That's a major barrier to this work.

 Second is the work of motivating growing numbers of people to look at the maps, and use them in the type of reflection and analysis that is described in the TED talk.  On the far left of my graphic is a node that focuses on "building public will".

Step two in the 4-part strategy of the Tutor/Mentor Connection, which was developed in 1993, focused on building public awareness. Finding ways to do this without advertising and public relations dollars is a huge challenge.  While the Internet offered a low-cost way to share ideas with the world back in 1998, it's now dominated by people with dollars to buy attention, or by people who have high visibility, and do crazy things, to attract attention.

Yet, if we don't get enough people interested in looking at this information, and using time, talent and dollars, to support the work of individual tutor/mentor programs, as well as those who collect the information and create the maps, we won't have much success in making good programs available to more kids.

Third is the role of network-builder, facilitator, mentor and teacher. That's the role Steve was taking in his TED talk, and the role I take with my web sites, blog articles, Tweets, and other social media activities.  Someone, or many someones, needs to be making an effort daily to connect people with the maps and information available and help them understand how to use it, and how to apply it to their own life experience and opportunities.

I often compare my maps to "blueprints" that are used by contractors to build buildings.  At every stage of the building process, work needs to be done by people with different skills.  They all need to be paid, or they normally won't do the work and the building does not get built. They also all need to have a certain level of skills, or the building won't stand, even if it does get built.

In solving social and environmental problems facing the world we need blueprints, as Steve is suggesting in his TED talk, and we need resources to support all three stages of this process.

I've been sharing ideas and graphics like this in articles at since 2005 and at since 1998. I look forward to connecting with others who are interested in these ideas.

UPDATE:  Here's an article about how traffic accidents are killing 1.25m people per year, and costing 3% of global GDP. The same systems thinking approaches that would apply to helping kids have greater support systems applies to this issue.

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

South Shore Neighborhood Focus of Today's Tribune

Today's Chicago Tribune devoted two full pages to the changes taking place in the South Shore neighborhood of Chicago, and of how the violence is causing many young African American families to move out of the city, and often out of Illinois.

I've been using maps to focus attention and draw resources to high poverty neighborhoods since launching the Tutor/Mentor Connection in Chicago in 1994.  This map was created in 2009, following a shooting in the South Shore area and was included in this article, I hope you'll read it. I hope local leaders will also read it, and other articles I've shared in this and the Tutor/Mentor blog.

The ideas still apply.

At the right is a page from a 1990s edition of the Tutor/Mentor Connection printed newsletter. (see it and others here). I've been sharing ideas like this for more than 20 years, yet with too little support from business, political leaders, faith leaders and peers.

The appeal for financial support of the T/MC that was included in our 2009 article was not answered and since 2011 I've not had anyone on staff to create maps like this, or to update the interactive tutor/mentor program locator, which can also be used to create story maps.

As the Chicago media remind us daily, the problems that prompted me to create the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 (and launching in January 1994) are still with us in 2017.  I'm just a lot older, and a lot poorer, and am now leading this effort via the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC, which is also not generating nearly the revenue needed to support this work in all the ways I describe in my past articles.

Thus, a month ago I posted an article about a "do-over",  inviting others to adopt and share ownership of the T/MC, using their own talents to lead it for the next 20 years...hopefully with greater impact and success than I've been able to provide.

I hope you'll take a look and share this with others who might respond to the invitation.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Example of How Maps Can Be Used

Chicago SunTimes, 1994
This 1994 Chicago SunTimes illustrates how I was trying to use GIS maps to fill high poverty inner city neighborhoods with mentor-rich, non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs.

I was introduced to GIS mapping in early 1993 by a volunteer from IBM who was working on a project with the city of Chicago. I attended presentations where the maps were projected on a large screen, and were interactive, meaning the people leading the conversation could build greater understanding of what the map was showing than you could get just looking at a map in a book. In the last decade there have been a few TV police shows using maps this way.

Last night I toured the Electronic Data Visualization lab at  UIC. We met in a classroom where one entire wall was made up of computer screen panels. You could project a single image to fill the entire wall, or you could have mutiple screens open at the same time. Then I experienced the 3-D CAVE where you could walk "inside" a map or a diagram, along with many others, to get a better understanding of what was being discussed.

I've never had the money to apply any of this to my own efforts. So when I see stuff like this, I feel like a "kid in a candy store". I drool with envy.

Well, I just had another similar experience.  The image below is from an ESRI story map, showing food insecurity (hunger) in the Washington, DC area.  I hope you'll open the map and read through the analysis. As you do, imagine the thinking and collaboration implied in this process.

Here's one PDF showing how I have been trying to use maps.  Here's another.  Read articles on this blog, and the Tutor/Mentor Blog and you'll see many more. Then imagine being able to put this into story maps like the DC folks have done, and to be able to bring people into a technology center like at Microsoft or UIC and lead a conversation, using the maps, focused on generating the public will and resource flow needed to support the growth and on-going operations of mentor-rich non-school, youth-serving programs which are expanding the network of adults helping kids go from first grade through high school and into adult lives with a job and a career free of poverty.

In the image I'm showing above, the red and yellow dots are partners who help distribute food to those who need it in the DC area.  What I don't see on the story map is a discussion of funding. Not the funding of the Capital Area Food Bank, and this mapping project, but the funding of all of the organizations who need to be involved in this food distribution network.  How are all of these organizations supported? Do they each have the money, talent, technology and resources needed to do this work as well as it needs to be done.  Are there other potential food distribution and education partners, such as non-school programs, which could be another layer of information. Who are the businesses, faith groups, colleges and hospitals who could be involved, or who are already involved?

Those are additional layers of information, conversation and analysis that could go into what is already a fantastic use of GIS technology and data visualization.

In the 1990s I met with folks at the Chicago Food Depository and we talked of their use of maps and my goal for using maps, however, this never led to any of the types of collaboration that might have happened if I had been able to bring more resources, or civic leadership, to the table with me.

It's not too late. The newspapers keep reminding us that we need better strategies to reach youth with alternatives to gangs and violence.

If you can imagine this, can you help me build a team of people, and find the money, to build such a capacity and use it in Chicago and other cities?

Monday, April 17, 2017

Mapping Philanthropy - Look at US Deep South States

Here's an effective use of maps as part of a story of philanthropy, or a lack of, in the deep South. It's titled

Where in the World is Big Philanthropy? Not in the Deep South

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Chicago Hack Night Celebrates 5 Years - Why I Participate

Last year I wrote this article to show why I attend weekly Chicago Hack Night meetings, which are "Chicago's weekly event to build, share &learn about civic tech".

In a couple of weeks #chihacknight is celebrating five years of weekly meetings and participants have been encouraged to write about why they participate.

I shared reasons for why I participate in last year's article. These have not changed. I attend for the weekly presentations, which expose me to new ideas, and to build relationships with people working in this arena.  However, most of my networking and learning is done in the Slack channel where members interact daily.

I've been able to reach out to forge stronger relationships around area's I'm deeply interested in, such as mapping and public engagement.  However, what's really valuable to me is the daily sharing of articles that I would not be aware of if I were not visiting Slack and following the conversation thread.

For instance, today, I saw a mention of an article titled "What 100K can do for civic journalism in Chicago."  I read the article, then reached out through the City Bureau web site and Twitter feed to introduce the "Rest of the Story" media strategy that I've used since 1993 to draw more frequent attention to neighborhoods where media stories cover bad news, but don't draw resources to help change that to good news.

I shared this 2014 blog article following a shooting in Rodgers Park, which encourages students from local high schools to tell the story via their own writing, videos and social media.

Another example. During the weekly meetings I learned about how one group wanted to create a web portal to help volunteers find places to do service in Chicago. On the Slack channel I learned more about this, and visited the GitHub page to offer my own ideas on this project.

A third example. Another link posted on the Slack channel today was one that pointed to this web site, encouraging Chance the Rapper to run for Mayor of Chicago, and encouraging non-voters to get involved. I visited the site and was really impressed with the creative way it presented this information. So, I looked them up on Twitter and said "great job". I also shared a set of articles I've written with Chicago's Mayor as the focus, and said "You, and people like you, could do these 10,000 times better than I do."  Below is a response to my Tweet.

Often I add links to some of the articles and web sites I find through the Slack conversation to the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library,  making the ideas available to myself in the future, while making them also available to anyone else who ever visits my library.

I've been using maps since 1993 to draw volunteers, donors, talent and ideas to youth serving organizations in high poverty neighborhoods so that there would be a wide range of mentor-rich programs working to help young people grow up safely and enter their adult lives with a network of people helping them....just like what's available to kids in more affluent areas of Chicago and other cities.

The mapping I do has been largely supported by volunteers, so there are many who attend ChiHackNight who could help me do this, and do this better.  Many of the visualizations I show were created by interns, borrowing from ideas I launched in blog articles like this. There are many who could do this better than I do, such as the creators of the Chance4Mayor site. The stories I write here and on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC blog. need to be written by many people, using their own talent, technology and resources, and communicated daily, reaching people in all parts of the Chicago region, motivating on-going, long-term, actions that result in more help for those living in poverty and distressed situations.

For forty years I've learned from the ideas and work being done by others and I've applied this learning to my own efforts. I'm really happy to have ChiHackNight as part of my network and appreciate the dedication and commitment of the organizers who have made these weekly meetings happen for the past five years.

Let's go for 10!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Follow up to negative news about violence, poverty

From Chicago Tribune, 3-12-17
In the 4-part strategy created by the Tutor/Mentor Connection in 1993 to support the growth of mentor-rich non-school programs in Chicago's high poverty neighborhoods, step 2 focuses on building public awareness and drawing needed resources to the youth organizations already operating in these areas.

Since T/MC had no money for advertising, other ways needed to be created to build on-going public awareness. The "Rest of the Story" strategy was invented for this purpose.  You can find examples of this in many past articles on this blog, and the Tutor/Mentor blog.

Following is an example.  The graphic above shows an article on the front page of the March 12 Chicago Tribune, telling the story of one young man living in the North Lawndale neighborhood of Chicago. The second part of the graphic is a set of statistics that was included with the article. The Tribune devoted 2 full inside pages to this story, and a commentary on page 2 of today's (March 13) paper.

Only briefly were non-school programs mentioned on Sunday.  No discussion was in the paper about what programs are available, are there enough, how to help them grow, etc. Thus, in a "Rest of the Story" article that would be the focus.

Here's a page from a 2011 presentation that shows the number of kids, age 6-17, below poverty line, in different community areas of Chicago. North Lawndale is at the bottom of the map, and has 4717 kids.  This map was created using the Tutor/Mentor Program Locator, created in 2008, but not updated since 2010, due to my lacking the funds or talent. Yet, it's still a usable tool. Click on green stars to see contact information and web sites of youth orgs in the directory.

T/MC surveys used in the 1990s to collect program information intended to create a more sophisticated understanding of program availability. Thus, on this search page, you're able to sort by type of program (pure mentoring, pure tutoring, or combination tutor/mentor) and by age group served (elementary, middle school and high school).  Using the map layers feature on the Interactive map, leaders could quickly see that there are too few programs serving older youth (and all youth, really) and a poor distribution of existing programs in many of the high poverty areas of the city.  I don't find this type of analysis anywhere on the Internet (If you know of others doing this, please share the link in the comments below).

Here's a more updated map and list of Chicago programs showing the North Lawndale area. Click on each icon to find the name of the organization.

My goal since 1993 has been to create a map platform that could be used to better understand the location and availability of non-school tutor/mentor programs in Chicago so leaders could help existing programs grow, and create new programs where needed, using the same strategies that corporate offices of large retail organizations use to make high performing stores available near potential customers.  I've never had the resources or partners to do this as well as it needed to be done. The service is still needed, in 2017, in Chicago, and in other cities.

In the asset map section of the Program Locator you can create map overlays showing banks, colleges, faith groups, etc. in different areas, such as North Lawndale.  At the right I'm pointing to another web site that enables users to see businesses in different parts of the city. In this case it is showing banks.

Since there are more than 4500 youth in the area who could benefit from non-school programs, and the map shows that many blocks have no programs, helping existing programs stay in business while helping new programs grow and reach more kids should be the focus of leaders in this area.  At the same time, helping programs learn from each other, and from programs around the world, so each is constantly improving it's ability to attract and retain youth and volunteer participation is also a goal. Several sections of the Tutor/Mentor library point to different types of youth serving programs that could be models for Chicago programs.

This information is intended to be used by groups of people in business, faith groups, media, colleges, non-profit networks, etc. to build strategies that fill the neighborhood with a wide range of birth-to-work youth support programs, supported by the different "assets" who are already located in the neighborhood.

There's a lot of information. Thus a learning process needs to be included as part of any support organization's strategy.

This is another map from the Program Locator, showing the North Lawndale community area, and showing faith groups and other assets. In this case, I've highlighted Ogden Ave, Roosevelt Road and the Eisenhower Expressway, which are three main roads bringing commuters from the suburbs through this neighborhood every day on their way to work.

Part of the effort to support the growth of youth programs in the area would be an on-going effort to motivate some of these people who "drive by poverty" to visit web sites and read blog articles like this, then join in efforts to help programs attract the ideas, talent and dollars each program needs to sustain it's efforts and constantly improve its impact.

I put these graphics in this SlideShare presentation so anyone could use this in an effort to mobilize and educate others. I've also drawn from a collection of strategy presentations in the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC library for this article.

On the Tutor/Mentor blog I've written a couple of articles recently inviting others to a "do over", using the ideas and strategies I've created since 1993 in a new organizational structure and effort that aims to have a much greater impact in the next 20 years than what I've had in the past 24 years.

I think many others could communicate ideas like this article better than I do. I invite you to "do it over", creating your own version, using your own talent, and reaching your own network of followers. Visit this page to see how interns working with me in Chicago have been doing this for many years.

It's not enough for the media to make us feel bad about young people living in poverty. They need to point us to information and strategies that motivate people who have the ability and resources to provide time, talent and dollars on an on-going basis to support the growth and long-term operations of needed birth-to-work support programs in every high poverty neighborhood of Chicago and other cities.

If the media don't do this regularly, it's up to us.

That's the goal of telling "The Rest of the Story" every time the media uses its space to attract reader attention to the problem.

Friday, March 10, 2017

Finding Help for your NonProfit - Business Locator

I've been reviewing links in one section of the Tutor/Mentor Connection web library and found a site that allows you to map locations of different businesses in different geographic locations.

I created this map, showing banks in Chicago on the near SW side of the city.  If you were operating a youth program in this area, reaching out to these banks for volunteers, board members and donations would make sense, since they share the same geography and its problems and opportunities.

Using the site you can create maps showing a wide range of businesses, not just banks.

The site was not created as a resource for non profits, but instead to support small business development. However, I think creative non profit leaders could use it the way I've described.

Visit the site, click here, and make your own maps.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

500 Cities: Local Data for Better Health

From 500 Cities web site
This map shows 500 cities across the United States which are included in a new data hub created by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

You can use the interactive map to create your own map view, or look at PDF reports for each of the 500 cities. This link points to Chicago maps.

Looking at the maps you quickly see a correlation between poverty and poor health.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

Race, Place and Jobs.

This image is from a PolicyLink report that I read today, that results from an analysis of 150 metro areas of the US.  The study shows a connection between where you live, race, and unemployment.  Chicago is not listed among the top 25 cities with the greatest unemployment.  See the PDF.

Read article.

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Stroll Through History of GIS and Learn More About GIS Uses.

 This blog was launched in 2008 to share maps created by the Tutor/Mentor Connection, using ESRI GIS, as well as an on-line interactive map-directory built on a Google map platform. However, I've been trying to use GIS maps to point people to places where kids need extra help, and where volunteer-based, non-school tutoring, mentoring and learning programs are needed, since 1993.

Today I found a presentation that shows the history of GIS and some of it's present day applications. Click here to view.

1994 story 
While I've seen the potential of GIS since I was first being introduced to it in 1993 by a volunteer from IBM, I've never had the talent and resources to maximize its potential. Since 2011, I've operated as Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC and I've not been able to update my map making, but  have continued to show platforms created by others, which can be used to make map stories focusing attention on poverty in Chicago and other cities.

Here are three presentations showing my goal in using maps:

Violence in Chicago. Where Will We Be in 10 Years? click here

No General Goes to War Without a Map. Click here

How to make your own map stories. Click here

These are three of more than 60 presentations on Most include maps.

If you have a GIS capacity and want to take ownership of the work I've started, to carry it forward into future years, I'd like to connect with you.  Introduce yourself with a comment, or via Twitter or Facebook.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Seven Things to Know about Child Poverty in the USA

Map from Community Commons site
"Child poverty costs the US more than $500 billion a year". That's one of the messages from this Community Commons article.

I've posted maps like this on this blog, and the Tutor/Mentor blog, for many years with the goal that many will use this information to support their own involvement in efforts that help kids, families and schools in areas where the map shows help is needed.

I feel that organized, mentor-rich, non-school learning programs can be a strategy to get more people personally involved in combating this problem, while expanding the social capital (network of adults) who help kids overcome obstacles in their lives.

Spend time reading this and  other articles I've posted. Start a study group, a learning circle and a planning group that engages the time, talent and dollars of yourself, and people you know, in building local and global systems of support that help kids move through school and into adult lives and careers.

Monday, January 9, 2017

DATA2GO.NYC - tool for understanding and change-making

This image is from an article I read today about "breathing life into numbers, drawing out the human stories that the data tell, and using those stories to inform dialogue and promote better policies" which has been my goal for almost 20 years.

The story focuses on work by DATA2GO, a New  York City resource.

I've been aggregating links to data-story sites on this concept map and in this section of the Tutor/Mentor web library.

Today I also watched a TED talk about making effective, interesting data-stories. You can view the video here, where it was embedded in a Vialogue, so I and others could add comments.

Without the ability to turn maps into stories, and repeat these stories in a variety of formats, on a daily basis, for months and years, it's impossible to attract the attention and support of all the people who need to be involved in building solutions to poverty, inequality, climate change, etc.

I've been looking for people to help "breath life" into my stories for many years, as well as people who apply these story ideas in cities all over the world.  This could be a student project, a company team project, or the mission of one, or many, organizations.

Over the next four years as political attacks from the right and left dominate traditional and social media attention it is going to be more urgent than ever that people are working together to draw needed attention and resources to people and organizations working to help the disadvantaged, protect the environment, or solve other critically important problems.