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Tagging Austin

19 Apr

There have been several recent articles about a new start-up social media site called the Findery (https://findery.com/). The founder, Caterina Fake, who previously started Flickr, has a new web site where the service relies upon users to annotate the physical world to create augmented-reality content. This form of internet tagging is designed, in Fake’s words, “to tease out local knowledge, hidden secrets, stories and information about the world around you.” According to the Atlantic magazine article (http://tinyurl.com/asd5fzm), Fake wants to make technology real by bringing in human interactions.

While I am always interested in technology, my eye caught this question from the interviewer; “Could more knowledge lead people to shun dangerous or crime-ridden areas?” Fake’s answer intrigued me:

      There was a lot of crime information on Findery for Hunters Point, a poor neighborhood in San Francisco. As a team, we felt an urge to make the place come alive, to say, “This is the community, this is the history of the place, here’s the important stuff that’s going on now.” That can’t happen unless you give people a place to talk. If a newspaper reports on Hunters Point, the “if it bleeds it leads” attitude dominates. The news doesn’t tell you the story of a place as the locals know it.

Then I looked up Chicago on the site. There are only six locations listed which is not surprising, given that the site originators are California-P3_Logo_FINAL-B&W1based. But, consider what would happen if we decided to change the Austin neighborhood from a crime-ridden communitywith nothing but reports of continuing failure and violence to a neighborhood where the hidden gems show up on the map. So I invite you to either send me a location in Austin that you would like me to post or go to Findery yourself. Let’s begin to put Austin on the map for all the best reasons.

And don’t forget to attend the spring concert Dancicals on April 25th at 6 p.m. at Autin H733889_420309491393352_928553474_nigh School located on 231 N. Pine. Show up and applaud the efforts of some of the best teens in Chicago.

Show Up and Be Counted

10 Jan

Happy 2013! Let us hope that the New Year brings fundamental change to the neighborhoods in Chicago, especially those plagued by violence, gangs and gunfire. That change must begin with us as we cannot rely upon law enforcement, politicians, studies or reports to be the change we need.

 Recently, Crain’s posted a map “Rich Blocks, Poor Blocks” created by Chris Persaud (http://www.chicagobusiness.com/article/20130108/BLOGS08/130109821/how-rich-is-your-neighborhood#ixzz2HbWl8dWe). Persaud noticed a correlation between the poorer census tracts, many situated in Chicago, and the areas that suffer from high crime rates. The map is not particularly user friendly unless you know your census tract number but the article points out that the median income for the heart of South Austin (census tract 2519) is $18.8 K while the statewide median income is between $48-58K.

I doubt anyone is surprised when reading this. We all know that income, derived from gainful and engaging employment, combined with educational resources, will go a long way to solving the rise in crime rates. But the problem appears to offer the chicken and egg scenario; we can’t get jobs for undereducated people and we can’t get educational resources without having more money, derived from property taxes, allocated to failing schools.  

I propose you allocate what you do have, the will and intention to be the change you wish to see (with thanks to Gandhi), and support the projects the P3 is working on this year. You can support them with money or by volunteering but most of all, you can show-up! When the season starts, show up for an Urban Hardball game and cheer the team on. Attend a Move Me Soul dance recital and get caught up in the energy. Help us empower the young people in the neighborhood through sports, dance and theater while promoting the pride, power and unity of the neighborhood.

In the next few weeks we will be updating the Facebook page with our new logo as well as news about some of the activities we will be promoting this year. Don’t let this be another year of bad news for Austin; instead let’s raise a little hope and a lot of commotion for the jewels of the neighborhood.

P3_Logo_FINAL-B&W1

Do You Still Have Your “Hoodies” On?

25 Sep

The City of Chicago has a serious problem with gun violence and the murder rate is soaring. The eyes of the nation are upon Mayor Rahm Emmanuel; however, the solution cannot be the sole responsibility of one man. We also cannot leave the expectation of raising our children to the Chicago Police Department. The time is long overdue for urban families to reflect on the infamous culture we have developed around gangsta rap, crack sales, marijuana smoke, saggy pants and fatherless children. The same culture that is directly responsible for creating this inner city war zone is killing our youth.

After the Trayvon Martin shooting, the African American Community rallied to have alleged killer George Zimmerman arrested and brought to justice. Community leaders, including Rev. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson, were quick to organize the masses demanding justice be brought upon this fair-skinned, racial profiler (ironically found to be of Hispanic descent). A man hired to protect and serve a community of above-average income families. Every media avenue was abuzz with outraged citizens overwhelmed with anger over another black youth being gunned down without cause. Facebook profile pictures prolifically popped up proudly displaying photos of protesting public servants in their “hoodies”, a symbol that became synonymous with Trayvon’s case.   

But, months later, the African American community that upped its ethical antenna in response to another slain young black boy is quiet again. Quiet despite the numerous accounts of other young Trayvons having their light distinguished by the devastation of gang related gunfire filling the streets of Chicago every night; quiet when young children are confined to their porches because wandering further into their own community could easily leave their mothers to make coffins their final beds; quiet when we should still have our proverbial “hoodies” on for teenage rapper Joseph Coleman (aka Lil’ Jojo) and 14 year old Evanston Township freshman football phenom Dajae “Dae-Dae” Coleman. These two youth were recently gunned down in the Chicago area and their killers remain on the loose. Though no one has been identified, in the back of our minds we have already allowed the all-too-common story to play out. It is hard to believe it has been nearly 30 years since Simeon basketball star Ben Wilson was tragically murdered and yet we don’t seem to have learned an effective enough lesson. Reacting in outrage when a black or brown child is killed by a “fair-skinned” person is senseless if we continue on with our daily routine when the person taking lives in our community lives within our community or one just like it.

We have to do a better job of policing our own communities and stop placing the blame on others. We have to take the reins out of the hands of the Mayor and the police and take ownership of our failing culture. We have to create a new culture that promotes the talents of our people in the arts, sciences and sports, not the deficits of the community around them that allows for easy access to drugs, gangs and guns. It’s not too late to change our culture in order to save the lives of Chicago’s youth.

Many of our rising stars will remain hidden jewels who never have a chance to shine. They won’t ever get there because they are victims of a culture that is failing them. We need to keep our “hoodies” on and occupy WGCI and Power 92.3, demanding that they change their format and reject songs with messages that play to the destruction of our young people’s minds, directly affecting what we see and hear in our communities. We need to demand better from the talented artists with the ability to create as much of a positive message through their skill set as they do the negative, nonsensical, mind-numbing noise that has affected our youth. We need to keep our “hoodies” on until real change happens.

We need to keep our “hoodies” on until there are no more senseless killings of young black people in the city of Chicago and other cities of this great nation. We need to keep our “hoodies” on just as a protest to fair-skinned crimes against our people, but as symbols of a society ready for change and as activists ready to make those changes!

ELDRICK HEREFORD