Tuesday, July 8, 2008

How to fix a city by focusing on youth...

This meeting was a few weeks ago, but the lessons learned are long lasting.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Camden Transformation

Rutgers University

In here opening remarks, Sandra Moore of Urban Strategies suggested that we “catch the fire of change”.

Nyeema Watson, the assistant director of Childhood studies announced a new program…see Rutgers website.

Mr. Geoffrey Canada gave four steps to having a better place to live for children and adults.

  1. Rebuild community – If you don’t like teens, they don’t like you. Have block associations. People don’t buy drugs where the community cares. Stand outside and talk to your neighbors while there is drug traffic. “Hope is as contagious as despair”.
  2. Follow the best practices of dealing with youth. There must be penalties for adult failure.
  3. Scale. Pay what it takes. Find the money. In poor communities we get mediocre because that is what we can afford. We don’t invest in our youth until they are adults in prison.
  4. Everyone should not work with children. Use evaluation to improve outcomes. Use data.

Mr. Canada then read a compelling poem called A Small Army of Love

Make the transition from

Traditional projects sustainable initiatives

Stages of change

  1. initiation
  2. mobilization
  3. collaborative action
  4. sustaining the change

Mr. Canada made statements during the lunch…

He bagan with a funny story about how was on the Oprah Winfrey show. Watch a part of it.

“If you don’t decide to save your children, they will not be saved.”

  1. Start early. The race starts at birth. Make it harder to fail than it is to succeed. Resilience theory – why do some people persevere and others give up? There was experiment done to make sense of resilience theory. Rats were trying to get out and some were not. The most important thing realized in the experiment was that rats do not like being in water. If you do not want rats to struggle to get out of the water and you know some are not going to make it out, do not put the rats in the water. What does this mean for us – we have to change our communities, not work on trying to get some people out.
  2. Redesign schools for success – some schools are designed to produce failing students. Lousy teachers should be fired.

Some of his previous statements were restated differently…

  • Remove the chaos from communities
  • Evaluation is a tool used to drive performance
  • Young people should have some form of spirituality
  • Help our children learn to be more optimistic. Remove them from the constant negativity that they experience from the media.

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