Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Asset based community development

John McKnight: Low-income communities are not needy -- they have assets

Detail from a graphic record of a facilitated discussion in Vancouver, B.C., in which participants talked about what belonging and community mean. The artists included examples of local community development in the drawing.
Detail from a graphic record of a facilitated discussion in Vancouver, B.C., in which participants talked about what belonging and community mean. The artists included examples of local community development in the drawing. Illustration by Liz Etmanski and Aaron Johannes/Spectrum Consulting
People who want to help low-income communities should see them as “half-full glasses” -- places with strengths and capacities that can be built upon, says the co-developer of the asset-based community development strategy.

Most people and institutions that want to serve poor communities are focused on what the residents lack. “What are the needs?” is often the first question asked.

John McKnight says that approach has it backward.

“I knew from being a neighborhood organizer that you could never change people or neighborhoods with the basic proposition that what we need to do is fix them,” he said. “What made for change was communities that believed they had capacities, skills, abilities and could create power when they came together in a community.”

McKnight is co-director of the Asset-Based Community Development Institute (link is external)and professor emeritus of communications studies and education and social policy at Northwestern University.

He and his longtime colleague John Kretzmann created the asset-based community development (ABCD) strategy for community building. Together they wrote a basic guide to the approach called “Building Communities From the Inside Out: A Path Toward Finding and Mobilizing a Community’s Assets.”

Read more here.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Acceptance and community

The Discipline of the Tongue

Where the discipline of the tongue is practiced right from the beginning, each individual will make a matchless discovery. He will be able to cease from constantly scrutinizing the other person, judging him, condemning him…. Now he can allow the other to exist as a completely free person, as God made him to be. Now the other person, in the freedom with which he was created, becomes the occasion for joy, whereas before he was only a nuisance and an affliction. God does not will that I should fashion the other person according to the image that seems good to me, that is, in my own image; rather, God made this person in God’s image. I can never know beforehand how God’s image should appear in others.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Strange Fruit

The offensiveness of recent expressions of hate and racism by university students comes into sharper focus if you expose yourself to the context, background and meaning of any talk of "hanging" people on a tree.


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Police actions and training?

Disturbing video by anyone's standards.

Can police not learn how to take a potentially threatening person down without killing them?

Not hard to understand how communities of poverty and color feel in jeopardy while being pushed to the margins. 

I'm needing some answers.

How about you?

Monday, March 23, 2015

When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 5

WE Americans are a nation divided.
We feud about the fires in Ferguson, Mo., and we can agree only that racial divisions remain raw. So let’s borrow a page from South Africa and impanel a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to examine race in America.
The model should be the 9/11 commission or the Warren Commission on President Kennedy’s assassination, and it should hold televised hearings and issue a report to help us understand ourselves. Perhaps it could be led by the likes of Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush and Oprah Winfrey.
We as a nation need to grapple with race because the evidence is overwhelming that racial bias remains deeply embedded in American life. Two economists, Joseph Price and Justin Wolfers, found that white N.B.A. referees disproportionally call fouls on black players, while black refs call more fouls on white players. “These biases are sufficiently large that they affect the outcome of an appreciable number of games,” Price and Wolfers wrote.
Read more here.

Sunday, March 22, 2015

When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 4

WHEN I write about racial inequality in America, one common response from whites is eye-rolling and an emphatic: It’s time to move on.
“As whites, are we doomed to an eternity of apology?” Neil tweeted at me. “When does individual responsibility kick in?”
Terry asked on my Facebook page: “Why are we still being held to actions that took place long ago?”
“How long am I supposed to feel guilty about being white? I bust my hump at work and refrain from living a thug life,” Bradley chimed in. “America is about personal responsibility. ... And really, get past the slavery issue.”
Read more here.

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Huh? Why do we need a Mandela over here? We’ve made so much progress on race over 50 years! And who is this guy Stevenson, anyway?
Yet Archbishop Tutu is right. Even after remarkable gains in civil rights, including the election of a black president, the United States remains a profoundly unequal society — and nowhere is justice more elusive than in our justice system.
When I was born in 1959, the hospital in which I arrived had separate floors for black babies and white babies, and it was then illegal for blacks and whites to marry in many states. So progress has been enormous, and America today is nothing like the apartheid South Africa that imprisoned Mandela. But there’s also a risk that that progress distracts us from the profound and persistent inequality that remains.
Read more here.

Friday, March 20, 2015

When Whites Just Don’t Get It, Part 2

Readers grudgingly accepted the grim statistics I cited — such as the wealth disparity between blacks and whites in America today exceeding what it was in South Africa during apartheid — but many readers put the blame on African-Americans themselves.
“Probably has something to do with their unwillingness to work,” Nils tweeted.
Nancy protested on my Facebook page: “We can’t fix their problems. It’s up to every black individual to stop the cycle of fatherless homes, stop the cycle of generations on welfare.”
Read more here.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

When whites just don't get it. . .

When Whites Just Don’t Get It (Part 1)

AUG. 30, 2014 


MANY white Americans say they are fed up with the coverage of the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo. A plurality of whites in a recent Pew survey said that the issue of race is getting more attention than it deserves.
Bill O’Reilly of Fox News reflected that weariness, saying: “All you hear is grievance, grievance, grievance, money, money, money.”
Indeed, a 2011 study by scholars at Harvard and Tufts found that whites, on average, believed that anti-white racism was a bigger problem than anti-black racism.
Yes, you read that right!
Read more here.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Other people's kids

"The American dream is in crisis. . .because Americans used to care about other people's kids and now they only care about their own kids."
Robert Putnam,
Our Kids:  The American Dream in Crisis
Check out related The New Yorker article here

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Racism and forming children

The broadcast of a recent video of Oklahoma University fraternity students singing racially charged lyrics (including a refrain that speaks of lynching black people and uses the "N" word with clearly casual ease) shocked many people.

Frankly, I wasn't too surprised. I run into such attitudes frequently.

What troubled me most was the light-hearted, nonchalance of those involved.

Where does one learn the "values" of such an insensitive, thoughtless, hateful, racist frame on life?

On the other hand, where does one learn truth, the sort of truth that resists evil when it's encountered.

Here's the horrific video.

Watch it again.

Let it soak in.

As you watch, try to put yourself in the shoes of your African American neighbors.

If you are a parent, use this shameful display of hate to teach your children the truth they will need to be a force of transformation and unity that stands resolutely over against the darkness of this latest example of the spirit of racism that remains alive and thriving in our society.

Over 60 years ago, Ms. Rosa Parks refused to give up her seat on a Montgomery bus. She stayed on the bus and she didn't get up or off.

Today we face a similar choice as white people.

When we face moments of hatred and racism, we must be brave enough to deal with the bus we may be riding.

In our case the challenge will be to stand up, speak out and get off any bus going into the terrible darkness defined by our nation's past in this country.

Form your children in love, acceptance and celebration of the beauty of all of God's children.

And, by all means, never tolerate expressions of hateful racism.

Monday, March 16, 2015

Sankofa Coalition

Take a moment to view this public statement from Dallas City Hall from Rev. Dr. Michael W. Waters.

Click "Open Microphone Speakers" and FF to comments beginning at 4:49.

In view of all that has been going on, what do you think about this idea? 

Sunday, March 15, 2015

From "inward/outward"

   Such a Clearance

I have a need
of such a clearance
as the Saviour effected in the temple of Jerusalem
a riddance of the clutter
of what is secondary
that blocks the way
to the all-important central emptiness
which is filled
with the presence of God alone.


Saturday, March 14, 2015

If you can read the following essay and not be concerned, you process reality much differently than do I.  Read and let me know your response.

2015_03_16 Richer and Poorer

Accounting for inequality.


For about a century, economic inequality has been measured on a scale, from zero to one, known as the Gini index and named after an Italian statistician, Corrado Gini, who devised it in 1912, when he was twenty-eight and the chair of statistics at the University of Cagliari. If all the income in the world were earned by one person and everyone else earned nothing, the world would have a Gini index of one. If everyone in the world earned exactly the same income, the world would have a Gini index of zero. The United States Census Bureau has been using Gini’s measurement to calculate income inequality in America since 1947. Between 1947 and 1968, the U.S. Gini index dropped to .386, the lowest ever recorded. Then it began to climb.

Income inequality is greater in the United States than in any other democracy in the developed world.

Read more here.

Monday, March 02, 2015

Dallas County Schools--public and private

Interesting “snippets” from The COMMIT! Partnership’s annual report, “Our Kids.  Our Tomorrow.”

·         750,000 students served by COMMIT!

·         Coalition of 160 different institutions with a “vested stake” in Dallas     County’s educational outcomes.

·         Between 1980 and 2010, poverty increased by 242% in Dallas County neighborhoods.

·         Dallas has 3rd highest childhood poverty rate in U. S. (38%), behind Detroit (59%) and Memphis (44%). 

·         Dallas County’s job growth lags behind surrounding counties.  Between 2000 and 2012, jobs increased in Denton County (+63%), Collin County (+71%), Rockwall County (+89%), Kaufman County (+4%), Ellis County (+21%), Tarrant County (+10).  In Dallas County jobs fell (-13%).

·         By not increasing each student’s level of attainment, our region loses $6.9 billion in lifetime earnings for every cohort of about 30,000 students entering the K-12 system annually.
·         Hispanic and African American students lag woefully behind white students in Dallas County in every measured category:  in 2014, only 345 black students graduated “college ready.” Fewer than half as many economically disadvantaged students graduated college ready as more affluent students (1,128 compared to 2,600). 

·         56% of eligible students are not enrolled in Pre-K or Head Start. 

·         36% of students in Dallas County are reading on grade level by 3rd grade. 

·         $33 million is left on the table in Dallas County in student financial support/services. 

·         Teacher supply is declining by 4% annually, while student population is growing at 1% each year. 

·         While there are examples of high-poverty schools doing well or better, poverty remains a key driver in low performance.  

More clear and compelling evidence that we must attack poverty and its associated stresses on children and families.  And, NOW!