Thursday, March 31, 2016

American Enterprise Institute on Mental Health Policy and poverty

How our mental health policy fails the poor

Mental illness dominates discussions about mass shootings. Far more prevalent is its connection with poverty. One-third of the nation’s homeless are the untreated mentally ill. One in five people in jail or prison has a severe mental illness.

In an important new paper, AEI’s Sally Satel argues that our nation’s failure in mental health policy is a classic case of good intentions gone bad. Policy responded to maltreatment in state psychiatric facilities by effectively eliminating them. In 1955, our nation had 560,000 psychiatric beds. Today we have 35,000.

Read full report here.   

Sunday, March 27, 2016

A World of Graves

Death puts on all kinds of clothes

For a hungry child, an empty stomach, a tomb
A no-job father finds Death in idle hopelessness
A mother fears Death's darkness, blackened in by her baby's tears
The homeless veteran cannot escape his plot defined by fear and hard, hard memory
Dying folk face Death in the eye, trying to stare it down, but no
Rejected, marginalized people move in and out of Death's shadows
Hated immigrants feel a Death separating them from home, while serving their captors right well
A poor beggar, standing at a busy urban intersection, wrestles Death a car at a time
The lonely know Death's solitude, resigned
Prisoners endure a life behind Death's locked door
The naked experience Death as humiliating uncovering
All sorts of blind people live in a darkness no one understands but Death
Abused, violated women live in a hellish sector of Death
Oppressed people know Death's weight
Homeless strugglers know Death in the great ourdoors
Crippled, broken bodies linger around souls chasing Death away
The world can be understood as a tomb
Death's home

What we need is a way out, through, beyond, up--liberation
The Liberator overcomes
The Warrior drives out fear
The Rescuer kills death
Leaving only an
Empty Tomb!

Our faith, in a world of graves

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Investment Advice

It doesn't happen very often, maybe 5 times over the past twenty-plus years, in one form or another I am asked by donors, foundations, philanthropic organizations how they could best invest their limited funds.

Recently, it happened again.

Two impressive and serious board members of a relatively small donor fund asked what I felt they should do with their limited capital to make the most difference possible.  I loved their self-reflection and their willingness to engage and ask for an honest reaction. 

Here's what I told them they should do with their funds:

1.  Invest in innovation.  Look for organizations that are not afraid of risk for the sake of breakthrough moments, opportunities and seasons.  World changers tend to be innovators in search of venture capital partners.  Hook up with innovators!

2.  Go Big!  Simply because your funds seem small is no reason to invest in what is small or smaller.  Look for approaches, strategies and leaders who intend to move to scale as soon as possible, and put your money there.  Consider a multi-year commitment of no less than three years. 

3.  Look for and expect high impact.  Smaller funders need to understand that, if focused, their relatively small investments can often lead to high impact results.  Pre-development dollars, research funding, specialized staffing--all of these uses can result in surprising, high impact outcomes. 

One final suggestion that I didn't mention to my inquiring friends:  once invested, tell everyone about your decision and your excitement over what will happen because of it.  Sell your new partnership.  Often your testimony will unearth more investors and serve to magnify the impact of your gift.

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Lent 2016 Day 40, the end of a season of clearer memory

Lent 2016 Day 40--Easter arrives:  the end of my daily reflections, as I've attempted to give up my wretched forgetfulness!

Today, I remember the promise, power and peace of the Resurrection's work. 


Enough to remember, and surely the most relevant event of faith not to be forgotten!

Saturday, March 19, 2016

Perfect match-up!

Lent 2016 Day 39

Lent 2016 Day 39--this year I've determined to give up my forgetfulness!

On this silent day, a day where no word of comfort or explanation comes back from the graves of my people, I remember the blessing and promise of silence and waiting without guarantees of any word.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Poverty in the US--2

Lent 2016 Day 38

Good Friday:  Lent 2016 Day 38--in giving up my forgetfulness, I am now awake to the power of death, the mystery of its meaning and, as many of my friends go away, a clear way through it to the "other side."

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Poverty in the USA

[For the next several posts, I'll be sharing summary information provided by our friends and partners at Purpose Built Communities in Atlanta, Georgia.  Several of us traveled there recently to observe the amazing things they have accomplished in the East Lake community. lj] 

Lent 2016 Day 37

Lent 2016 Day 37--I'm giving up forgetfulness for Lent this year!

Today, I'm feeling the need to remember the darkness of the Passover meal Jesus shared with his friends; and I recall the significance of the meal and the meaning of the darkness.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Lent 2016 Day 36

Lent 2016 Day 36--in giving up my forgetfulness, I am remembering the rich benefits of contemplation, meditation, prayer and centering.  To forget these assets is to give up on depth and any expectation of revelation.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Lent 2016 Day 35

Lent 2016 Day 35--this year I am resolved to give up my ability to forget.  I am embracing memory and awareness.

Today, I am recalling the simple beauty of a pair of Cardinals whose nest is near my backyard.  Watching them play, feed and enjoy each other is a pure delight that I need to recall frequently.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Selling the poor, doing injustice

It’s been almost a year since the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) released their preliminary proposal to regulate payday and other small-dollar lending, and still consumers have no federal protections against predatory small dollar lending.

So why hasn’t the CFPB taken action yet? One of the biggest factors has been the continuous and intense pushback from the payday lending industry — and Congress.
While attacks on the Bureau by the industry and members of Congress are nothing new, what is new is that these attacks have recently started to come from both sides of the aisle. Even more surprising, members like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Chair of the Democratic National Committee, are now working to block the CFPB from protecting consumers against predatory payday lending.
The efforts by the chairwoman and a majority of the Florida congressional delegation have coalesced around H.R. 4018, the "Consumer Protection and Choice Act," which would not only delay the CFPB payday rules by two years, it would also endorse Florida’s debt trap payday model — which strips $280 million from lower-income Floridians — as a nationally recognized and federally exempted model for other states to implement.
Consumers have waited long enough for the CFPB to act, and they’ve lost billions of their hard-earned cash in the process. Congress should not make them wait any longer and should let the CFPB finish the job it started. Tell Congress to reject this damaging bill:

Got 1 Minute?

Send a Tweet in support of the CFPB’s efforts (and tag your Representative so he or she gets the message!):
  • Payday lending strips billions from financially vulnerable consumers each yr. Congress should let the @CFBP do its job to #StopTheDebtTrap. [Click here to tweet]
  • We need strong a @CFPB rule to protect against predatory payday lenders taking advantage of consumers. #ConsumersCantWait #StopTheDebtTrap [Click here to tweet]
  • 250+ groups oppose HR4018, which would limit the @CFPB's ability to protect consumers from #payday lending: [Click here to Tweet]

Got 3 Minutes?

Call your U.S. Representative and tell them to reject this damaging bill:
  • Call 202.224.3121 and ask to be connected to your Representative's office. If you don't know who your Representative is, find out here.
  • Once you're connected, here's what to say:
My name is [your name] from [your organization or coalition], and I’m calling to request that you oppose H.R. 4018, as well as any effort to weaken the CFPB’s ability to protect consumers against predatory payday lending practices.
This bill would codify a number of payday industry-backed practices and recognize Florida’s industry-backed payday lending model — which strips $280 million from lower-income Floridians — as one that other states should follow. H.R. 4018 would harm consumers across the country and would undermine the CFPB’s ability rein in an industry that thrives on stripping financially vulnerable borrowers of their hard-earned money and trapping them in a cycle of long-term debt.
Thank you for everything that you do on behalf of consumers everywhere.
Corporation for Enterprise Development
The Assets &Opportunity Network team
  CFED - Corporation for Enterprise Development
  1200 G Street, NW Suite 400
  Washington, DC 20005


Lent 2016 Day 34

Lent 2016 Day 34--This year I am giving up my forgetfulness. 

I am remembering the power of courage and my need for more of it. 

Sunday, March 13, 2016

Lent 2016 Day 33

Lent 2016 Day 33:  I'm giving up my capacity to forget!

Today, I am remembering the real benefit of respectful, honest disagreement.  The unique perspectives of others need to inform, shape and give me pause on a daily basis. 

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Lent 2016 Day 32

Lent 2016 Day 32: I'm attempting to give up my forgetfulness! 

Today,  I'm remembering the benefits of challenges that come my way in every dimension of my life.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Shameful record

This is truly stunning evidence of how poorly Texas does in caring for public health. Texas ranks #49 in terms of providing access to care for all of us. The only state with worse results is Georgia.

No doubt, Texas' refusal to expand Medicaid explains a huge part of this discouraging reality.  

Data is curated by

Lent 2016 Day 31

Lent 2016 Day 31--I'm determined to give up my forgetfulness.  So, today I am remembering the great benefits and opportunities provided by hard times.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Robber Barons or Inquisitors?

Somehow this seems relevant in today's social and political climate: 

I am a democrat [not the party, but the political theory-LJ] because I believe that no man or group of men is good enough to be trusted with uncontrolled power over others. And the higher the pretensions of such power, the more dangerous I think it both to rulers and to the subjects.

Hence Theocracy is the worst of all governments. If we must have a tyrant a robber barron is far better than an inquisitor. The baron’s cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity at some point may be sated; and since he dimly knows he is doing wrong, he may possibly repent. But the inquisitor who mistakes his own cruelty and lust of power and fear for the voice of Heaven will torment us infinitely more because he torments us with the approval of his own conscience and his better impulses appear to him as temptations.

And since Theocracy is the worst, the nearer any government approaches to Theocracy the worse it will be. A metaphysic held by the rulers with the force of a religion, is a bad sign. It forbids them, like the inquisitor, to admit any grain of truth or good in their opponents, it abrogates the ordinary rules of morality, and it gives a seemingly high, super-personal sanction to all the very ordinary human passions by which, like other men, the rulers will frequently be actuated. In a word, it forbids wholesome doubt. A political programme can never in reality be more than probably right. We never know all the facts about the present and we can only guess the future. To attach to a party programme — whose highest claim is to reasonable prudence — the sort of assent which we should reserve for demonstrable theorems, is a kind of intoxication.
A Reply to Professor Haldane
C.S. Lewis

Lent 2016 Day 30

Lent 2016  Day 30 I'm giving up forgetfulness for Lent!  Today I am remembering the blessing of transportation--local and worldwide, that I have access to enjoy.  I'm also remembering my friends who have only public transit, if any at all. 

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

New eyes and hearts

Lent 2016 Day 29

Lent 2016 Day 29:  I'm working on giving up forgetfulness this Lent.

Today, I'm remembering the amazing blessing of good health and access to good health care that I so often take for granted, a human right all deserve and millions do not enjoy.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

The big "fix"

Lent 2016 Day 28

Lent2016 Day 28

I'm giving up forgetfulness for Lent!

I'm remembering people across the years who revealed Jesus to me in their suffering and poverty:  "Blue," Joe W., Mr. Adrian, Jane Lowe, Eugene Moricle, and hundreds of others from the distant and recent past.

Monday, March 07, 2016

March Madness to Nail Poverty


It’s March, and that means it's time for March Madness! Take a shot at fighting poverty by participating in “Hoops for Hope” NCAA Tournament Bracket for CitySquare!

Stay on your toes and save the date. The “Hoops for Hope” CitySquare bracket will open on Monday, March 14th after selection Sunday! You will receive an email once the bracket is open.

It takes a team to fight poverty– tell your friends to join the fight by participating in Hoops for Hope!

This year’s “MVP,” the champion, will win bragging rights for all of 2016 and a VIP experience for two at our annual fundraiser, A Night to Remember, featuring Jerry Seinfeld.
CitySquare 511 N Akard Street | Suite 302 | Dallas Texas 75201
P: 214.823.8710  |  F: 214.824.5355  |  Email:

© 2016 CitySquare

Lent 2016 Day 27

Lent 2016 Day 27--I'm giving up my forgetfulness.  I'm remembering good neighbors across the years of all kinds from all sorts of backgrounds! 

Sunday, March 06, 2016

Hope, not optimism

Hope or Optimism

Hope is not merely the optimistic view that somehow everything will turn out all right in the end if everyone just does as we do. Hope is the more rugged, the more muscular view that even if things don’t turn out all right and aren’t all right, we endure through and beyond the times that disappoint or threaten to destroy us.

Lent 2016 Day 26

Lent 2016 Day 26:  I'm giving up forgetfulness and I'm remembering the blessing of the United Methodist Church on my life and that of my family! 

Saturday, March 05, 2016

Lent 2016 Day 25

Lent 2016 Day 25:  I'm giving up forgetfulness for Lent! 

I'm remembering the impact of organized sports and teams on my life--for good and for ill! 

Friday, March 04, 2016

Sisyphus, purpose and imposing hope. . .

Recently, a kind friend sent this note.  I felt like it might be helpful to you:

Don't know if you are familiar with Jerome Shestack, a human rights activist and attorney, but I ran across this passage in a long article of his and thought of you and CitySquare.

...Sisyphus may turn out to be a more enduring hero than Hercules. For if, as Camus taught, life itself is absurd, then Sisyphus represents the only triumph possible over that absurdity. In his constancy to reach the summit, even with failure preordained, Sisyphus demonstrated that the human spirit is indomitable and that dedication to a higher goal is in itself man's reason for living. So, like Sisyphus, the non-governmental organizations do what they must. The realities of the world may foredoom a great part of the struggle to failure and make most of the effort seem absurd. Yet, the very struggle itself takes on a symbolic meaning, enhancing human dignity. And when all is said and done, there is no other humane course to pursue.

At least from my point of view your work embodies this hope and spirit.



Lent 2016 Day 24

Lent 2016 Day 24:  I'm determined to give up forgetfulness for Lent!

I remember more very influential teachers in my life:  Harold Hazelip, James Cone, Coach Hoggard, Mrs. Smith

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Growth by Ponzi Scheme

What follows, along with a link to the four other essays in the series, come to us from Strong Towns and should be provocative, to say the least! 

Read and tell me what you think!

The Growth Ponzi Scheme

We often forget that the American pattern of suburban development is an experiment, one that has never been tried anywhere before. We assume it is the natural order because it is what we see all around us. But our own history — let alone a tour of other parts of the world — reveals a different reality. Across cultures, over thousands of years, people have traditionally built places scaled to the individual. It is only the last two generations that we have scaled places to the automobile.

How is our experiment working?

At Strong Towns, the nonprofit, nonpartisan organization I cofounded in 2009, we are most interested in understanding the intersection between local finance and land use. How does the design of our places impact their financial success or failure?

What we have found is that the underlying financing mechanisms of the suburban era — our post-World War II pattern of development — operates like a classic Ponzi scheme, with ever-increasing rates of growth necessary to sustain long-term liabilities.

Since the end of World War II, our cities and towns have experienced growth using three primary mechanisms:

Read on here.

Lent 2016 Day 23

Lent 2016:  Day 23

I'm determined not to forget--I'm giving up forgetfulness for Lent: 
Today I'm remembering the fundamental goodness to be discovered in almost everyone!

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Images from a Lubbock weekend

Last weekend I worked with Carpenter's Church to consult with downtown development leaders and Chad Wheeler and his team of urban housing developers focused on bringing permanent supportive housing to Lubbock's homeless population.  I also spoke at their annual funding banquet in Alumni Hall at Texas Tech University. 

The images below from the weekend are very special.

Who can "connect the dots" on this unusual set of photos?

Lent 2016 Day 22

Lent 2016  Day 22

Memory reprise:  I'm determined not to forget:  the grand city of New Orleans, where I learned more about Lent than anywhere I've ever lived! 

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

Lent 2016 Day 21

Lent 2016  Day 21

I'm determined not to forget:  the democratic system assuring me a freedom in life that I take for granted so often. 

Now that I remembered and reminded you, let's be sure and vote!

Super Tuesday: Make it Happen, Folks!

Find your polling place for voting right here!