Thursday, April 9, 2020

Building Participation in On-Line Communities

In articles on the Tutor/Mentor blog, and on this blog, I've written about building networks of people who would work collectively to solve complex problems. I've also pointed to social network analysis (SNA) tools to map participation in events, as a resource for understanding how well different groups are doing in building engagement, and thus stimulating greater growth.

Below is a graphic showing two maps created using NodeXL SNA tools. They show two on-line events held during the first week of April 2020.

#SkollGoesVirtual (click here)  #CarnegieSummit2020 (click here)

The Skoll World Forum, organized by the Skoll Foundation, was originally scheduled as a face-to-face event, to be held from March 31 to April 3, 2020.  Due to Covid19 it was rapidly changed to an on-line format and the public was invited to join in on many of its on-line presentations, and to interact on Twitter using #SkollGoesVirtual.  I participated in one live session and then later watched two recorded sessions. I shared ideas on Twitter as I did. Here's the link to the  map shown above.   I waited too long to ask NodeXL to create this analysis, so the information shown represents the final 3 days of the on-line conference, plus conversation extending into the next week.

The Carnegie Forum was also originally scheduled to be a face-to-face event, from April 1 to April 3, 2020.  It also moved to an on-line format, using #CarnegieSummit2020.  The map shown covers Tweets from Sunday, March 29 to Saturday, April 4th, the full period of the Summit.

Unfortunately, there was a fee to participate in the Carnegie Forum, and workshops and keynotes were not streamed live on-line.  You can clearly see this impact by looking at the top map, where Tweets of 1139 Twitter users are shown; with six major clusters, representing different segments of the Skoll World Forum, while on the bottom there are 231 Twitter users, shown in one big cluster, representing information shared by the Carnegie Foundation, along with limited participation in additional clusters.

view map here
I've been trying to harness network analysis for more than 10 years. At the right is a map showing participation in tutor/mentor conferences which I hosted in Chicago in past years. See it on this 2010 blog, created by a volunteer from India who worked with me for a few months.

In 2012 interns from South Korea did an analysis of the Tutor/Mentor Connection forum.  Here's one PDF showing that analysis. Their work is described in this blog article. 
created by interns in 2012

Unfortunately I've never been able to find volunteers who would do this work consistently, nor dollars to hire people to do it.

I learned about NodeXL in 2015 and wrote this introduction. Since then Mark Smith has been incredibly helpful in creating maps for me.

Thus, I've been sharing NodeXL maps of events for several years to encourage more leaders who organize face-to-face events to build parallel on-line activities, to engage more people in the event, increase idea sharing among participants with each other, and stimulate more on-going interactions, which are essential to any consistent and growing movement-building.

If you're in the crowd, are
your ideas being heard?
The graphic at the right expresses my feelings. If  you're sitting in a big room, you're being talked at, not with. You can barely exchange ideas with other people at your own table, let alone at other tables.  Yet you're there because you want to learn, and you want to share. You care about the topic that's being discussed. You have ideas to offer and you probably have needs for support of your own work.

On the Internet anyone has a chance for their ideas to be heard.  Organizers need to be making consistent efforts to encourage this. Network analysis maps can show how well this is happening.

It only takes a few people
to change the world.

Margaret Mead's famous quote was "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has,"

It Takes A Village to Raise a Child, is a related quote, based on an African proverb.

In both cases, that small group must be able to spread its ideas to larger and larger groups, with a mix of talents and networks, to truly change the world.

Network analysis tools like NodeXL can help event organizers and network builders better understand participation in events they organize, and adjust strategies so more people get involved in future events.  It's a tool to help connect networks, and bring people from silos, into collective efforts focused on common goals.  Without mapping participation how does anyone really know who is involved, or who stays involved? Especially when thousands of people need to be involved.

Today I participated in a ZOOM event hosted by Mark Smith of NodeXL, with people from around the world. You can find many and get to know their work, by visiting this Twitter list.  Or search for Twitter articles using #NodeXL hashtag, then browse articles being shared so you can learn ways to apply social network analysis in your own efforts.

Adopt this strategy
I keep looking for partners, and for people who are using network analysis tools for this purpose, and who write articles similar to mine, to help make sense of the information shown on these maps. In this article I invite universities to create an on-campus Tutor/Mentor Connection where students apply ideas I've been sharing for 20 years. One of those would be doing network analysis maps to help build participation in community-campus collaborations.

 If you're doing that please connect.  You can find me on Twitter @tutormentorteam. I'm on Facebook and LinkedIn, too.

Friday, March 27, 2020

Healing a Divided Nation

Below is a Tweet that I saw today showing vastly different levels of concern for the #COVID19 virus among Democrats and Republicans.
There are many serious divides in America. One is a political divide. One is a wealth divide. One is a racial divide. Another is a technology divide. These divisions are tearing the country apart and reducing our collective ability to solve some of these problems.  Maybe while so many are now working at home, they will spend a little time looking at these divides and look for ways to bridge them, or shrink them.

Below is an article I wrote in October 2016.. before the election. 

On Saturday, Ann Medlock, of the Giraffe Heroes Project, shared a story on Facebook that prompted me to write this.  The article is titled "How Half Of America Lost Its F**king Mind" and was talking about how so many American's are supporting Donald Trump for President.

I read the article and encourage you to read it too.  If you live in a city, some of the ideas may turn you off, or challenge your thinking. If you live in rural America, or grew up there, you might say, as the author did, "That could be me."

Included in the article was a map showing the 2012 Presidential Election voting, on a county-by county basis.

Read  more 
The red counties on this map represent rural, mostly White, America. The blue counties represent urban America, with much larger populations of people of color. Reading the article I began to look at "TWO Americas" from a "rural-urban" perspective, not just from a "White-Minority" or "Rich-Poor" perspective.

Of course, they are all related.

What's driving the motivation of rural America is a changing economy that has caused factories and jobs to leave smaller cities and rural areas, leaving poverty and a lack of hope in its wake. The article talks about how popular culture (movies, TV, radio, music), coming out of urban Ameria, have helped prepare rural America to accept Trump. One line in the article was, "He's our "asxhxxle"

I did a little more digging today, and visited the web site of Mark Newman  There are several more maps on the site, like the one below. This shows that not all of the Red counties are 100% Republican and not all of the Blue counties are 100% Democratic.

Look closer at the maps
We know how the 2016 election turned out and how the nation has become even more divided in the years since then.   

What the political maps do not show is the racial mix across America.  
The article about rural America voting for Trump does not focus on the race and inequality issues that Black American's have been focusing on, yet it's there.

I recalled another web site that I saw a couple of years ago, with what's called a "Racial Dot Map". I've included a screen shot below, showing the full country.  The map has color coded dots showing where different racial groups are most concentrated.

Racial Dot Map shows different racial mix throughout USA

You will need to open the site and zoom in to get better information from this map, but just by comparing this to the map above, you see two patterns. A large part of the Republican counties East of the Mississippi are high majority White. Cities and urban areas across the country have high minority populations.  However, the areas West of the Mississippi, mostly Republican, have very low population density. This is lack of population density is a different rural America than Appalachia and the US South.   I encourage you to read Newman's article and see how he describes how population density affects the general election vote, as well as the Electoral College vote.

My take-away?

First, the issues of race and poverty in America are complex, and getting consistent attention of people in Red and Blue states will be difficult.  For the past 40 years I have focused on helping urban areas build and sustain non-school support systems for youth living in poverty.  However, I've recognized that there needs to be a parallel group duplicating my efforts, with a focus on rural areas. I recently found an organization called Rural Assembly, who is doing some of this.

Second, the problems facing rural American and its loss of jobs, rising poverty, growing drug abuse and suicide rates is also a wicked problem, that won't be solved by more tutor/mentor programs. It's not a problem I've spent much time thinking about, since the problems I do focus on are already far beyond my own area of influence.

Below is a map showing the Digital Divide in Chicago, which I included in a December 2018 article.
Digital Divide in Chicago

This screen shot shows interactive map included in WBEZ article titled "Clear Signs Of The Digital Divide Between Chicago’s North And South Sides"

The article reports that "more than half the households in Englewood and nearly half the households in West Englewood (51 percent), Riverdale (49 percent), Auburn Gresham, and South Shore (both 46 percent), lacked internet access at home".

The closing of schools across America during COVID19 has highlighted this divide, as many students do not have the equipment and/or internet access to continue learning.  However, it's also one of the reasons many in America are not connected to the information shared on the Internet, thus are limited to radio, local faith leaders, and local networks for the ideas they believe in.

This is an important divide to understand and reduce.  Here's a link to a set of articles on this blog where I've shared more information, and links, to the Digital Divide.

Update: 3/30/2020: Here's a Tweet showing households in the USA without Internet access:

Time for deeper learning:
In articles on the Tutor/Mentor blog I focus on learning, complex problems, network building, etc. These do apply to the issues this article focuses on.  Getting more people personally engaged in learning about the problems we face, and using their own time, talent and dollars to build solutions, is the one strategy that I keep sharing that can lead to a more connected America focusing on problems, not personalities, and focusing on well-thought-out solutions, not vague promises. 

I hope you'll take a look.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

Graphic Facilitation - Another Form of Mapping

I've been using Twitter since 2009 and over the years I find it to be one of the most useful places to gather new ideas, connect and build virtual relationships.  I'm at @tutormentorteam and I encourage readers to connect with me there.

In one of my threads this week I was introduced to Aaron Johannes, @imagineacircle He leads an organization called ImagineACircle, I followed the link on his profile to try to learn what work he was doing and I see a focus on graphic facilitation. Below is just one of many visualizations he shares on the site.

See this visual in Graphic Facilitation article
I picked this one because the ideas reflect much of what I've been trying to do over the past 25 years and which I've communicated via many articles on the Tutor/Mentor blog and vis presentations that I host on the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC site.   I encourage you to read the article describing graphic facilitation, and browse other parts of the ImagineACircle site.

Created in 2011

I've had volunteers with different talents work with me off and on between 1993 and 2011 and had interns from various colleges work with me up till 2015.  I asked them to look at ideas I was sharing on blog articles and via ppt presentations, then create their own interpretations.  In this Tutor/Mentor forum thread you can see visualizations created by Sam Lee, an intern from South Korea, in 2011.

While I hosted Tutor/Mentor Leadership and Networking Conference in Chicago from 1994 to 2015 with attendance ranging from 200-300 in the 1990s and early 2000s, I never had anyone with graphic facilitation skills working with me to try to lead the conversation of "What are all the things we need to know and do to help kids in every high poverty neighborhood connect in organized tutor/mentor programs that help them move through school and into adult lives, jobs and careers?"

I've created a library of concept maps to visualize ideas and strategies, but these are work that I did, sitting alone at my computer, drawing from my own experiences and the library of ideas and research I've been building for over 40 years.

Thus, I'd love to see the type of graphic facilitation being done at ImagineACircle applied to the maps and graphics I've been sharing for many years, by a group of stakeholders, who might focus on Chicago, or any other city. Furthermore, I'd love to find a library where such maps are being aggregated. We could all learn from each other.

Friday, January 10, 2020

Black Owned Banks, Hotels, HBCUs - on a map

Black owned banks & credit unions
Today on Facebook one of my former Cabrini Connections students posted a map showing Black owned hotels and resorts. I visited the site and found maps showing Black owned banks and HBCUs (Historically Black Colleges and Universities). 

Here's a link to the site. Watch the videos to see how the site seeks to encourage Blacks to put their money in Black-owned businesses as a strategy to improve the lives and economic and political power of Black Americans. 

Take a look. 

Friday, December 20, 2019

What factors affect learning at your school? Interactive map

click here to view map
My Twitter feed drew my attention to the interactive maps on the Hamilton Project website, which is a part of

While there are many different reports on the site the map I'm pointing to focuses on a report that focuses on the factors that affect learning at individual schools.

If you browse through this blog or sections of the Tutor/Mentor blog you'll see that I create stories by zooming into sections of map platforms like this, then creating a screen shot that I convert to a jpg that can be put in the story.

Below is a closeup of the Chicago region.  You can drill down even closer to look at individual schools.

Below you can see how I share maps from these stories on Twitter and how I'm trying to motivate youth from schools across Chicago and the world to create their own map-stories, focusing on issues in their own community.

This is something that youth as early is middle school could be doing for various class projects, or for service learning. If practiced all the way through high school and college, I suspect we'd develop a generation of spatial thinkers who use maps to draw needed programs and resources into more places where such help is needed.

Thank you to everyone who has read and shared stories from my blogs over the past year.  I wish you all a  happy, healthy and hope filled holiday.

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

What If This Market Analysis Tool Were Used to Support Growth of Youth Programs

Below is a screen shot from a Business Market Analysis Case Study posted by ESRI this week.  I encourage you to open the link and see how Walgreens uses this tool to determine where to place new stores.

Open link and view this market analysis tool
UPDATE:  10-24-2019 - here's a different example of using GIS mapping to support fund raising efforts. Read both articles then the rest of this blog article.

Imagine having this tool available to social sector intermediaries like the Tutor/Mentor Connection.  In early 1993 when a volunteer from IBM was introducing me to Geographic Information Systems I saw interactive uses of mapping as planning tools and understood their potential to visually communicate.

Between then and 2009, with the help of volunteers and a few donors, I was able to mimic some of those tools in the types of maps and map platforms we created to help support the growth of volunteer-based tutor/mentor programs in Chicago, but was never able to get the full suite of tools, nor the executive commitment to use these in efforts to engage corporate resources in helping tutor/mentor programs grow in areas served by different companies.

See map in this story

At the left is one of the map stories we created in the 1990s. This has all of the elements of the ESRI tool, except it is not automated. We show specific parts of Chicago, tell a story of a shooting, talk about the poverty that is a root cause of much of the violence, and talk about assets in the area (businesses, faith groups, colleges, hospitals) who could be helping tutor/mentor programs grow in that area.

Imagine having that story told with a GIS tool like the one ESRI is showing. Imagine the story being told by a corporate CEO or Mayor of a big city!   I can imagine it. I've not been able to make it happen!

Browse through this set of articles, written since 2008, to show how Tutor/Mentor Connection (now Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC) has been attempting to use maps.
view map & list of programs here

The one unique feature of the T/MC work is that we've been collecting information about non-school, volunteer-based tutor, mentor and learning programs in the Chicago region since 1993, and our efforts aim to draw volunteers, donors and ideas directly to each program, to help each constantly improve.

T/MC goes beyond technical assistance and showing "how" to recruit and/or raise money. T/MC has helped build public attention and recruit and raise money for these programs since 1994. 

And T/MC uses maps to try to ensure a distribution of k-12 programs in every high poverty neighborhood of the Chicago region.

If you know of others using maps this way, please share it in the comments section.

Since 2011 the Tutor/Mentor Connection has been led by the Tutor/Mentor Institute, LLC (which is a one person - Dan Bassill (me) - operation based in the Chicago region). Here's a 2019 article showing what I've been trying to do and showing help needed to re-build my capacity to do this work.

These maps could be any major city in the world, not just Chicago. That means a  university, business and/or civic organization from any place in the world could spend time learning what the Tutor/Mentor Connection/Institute, LLC  has been building then offer to adopt, and rebuild, the strategy to apply in their own city and to share with other cities.

Any company could be using ESRI tools as part of this ROLE OF LEADERS  commitment, to support the growth of youth serving organizations in areas where they do business, and/or where customers and employees live.

Connect with me on Twitter, Facebook and/or Linkedin.  Let's explore this possibility. 

In the short term, please make a contribution to help me continue to fund this work.