Da Old Mayor
CHICAGO CIVIC MEDIA
This article is not just about Youth Violence - gangs and drugs - in Chicago. It's about how media - public, community, online and mainstream - can help citizens and governments in any city define and solve all kinds of intractable problems.
Cold weather. In the past, it took the media spotlight off youth violence in Chicago.
Swept it under a carpet. Where the violence continued year round.
But 2013 is different. Chicago's media are obsessed with the homicide rate. Which of course is only the tip of the iceberg.
Including, now, the Gold Coast and
And including Chicago's suburbs, where the Crime Commission estimates 15,000 gang members.
The 2012 Illinois Youth Survey reports an "actual past 30-day marijuana use rate" among suburban high school seniors of 29%.
Drugs. Gangs. Youth violence. As Chicago Tribune reporter Jean Latz Griffin documented in 1986, it's been a Chicagoland problem for decades.
A problem that Chicago, for its part, has tried and failed to contain within its poorer, non-white neighborhoods.
With its unending, unwinnable War on Gangs.
The results of forty years of containment?
More gangs. More drugs. More violence.
Fortified schools. 40% dropout rates. A depleted workforce.
"White flight" to the suburbs. An eroded city tax base. A budget crisis.
And the human cost?
So said Mayor Daley 20 years ago.
Today it's three generations. And counting. Fast.
Containment? It's been a disaster.
Yet "We're containing it."
That was Mayor Emanuel on National TV last September defending Chicago's handling of youth violence.
Containment in Chicago
Illustrated. By the Chicago Sun-Times.
Containment in Chicago Illustrated. By the Chicago Sun-Times.
So who will help him?
Chicago's police? Its teachers? Its people?
Its civic and religious institutions? Its businesses? Its media?
All must help. Especially Chicago's media.
Why Chicago's media?
Because of community involvement.
Community involvement, everyone agrees, is crucial to stopping youth violence.
Yet there's never been enough.
Police keep pleading, "We can't do it alone".
But wait - most Chicagoans
desperately want a gang-free
Why aren't they involved?
Because Chicago's media have yet to realize that youth violence is as much a public communication problem as it is a public safety or public health problem.
Chicago will not put an end to youth violence without the constructive involvement of its public communication system: its public, community, online and mainstream media.
So far, that involvement has been anything but constructive.
He was right. Trouble makers own the headlines. If it bleeds, it leads.
Through all this noise, problem-solving Chicagoans can't hear each other.
Can't understand each other. Can't trust each other. Can't work together.
They certainly do. The same resources that focus Chicagoans on business, entertainment and sports can focus Chicagoans on reducing youth violence and solving gangs and drugs.
Key to this transformation is the involvement of all Chicagoans, especially the youth targeted by drug dealers to use and sell drugs.
Chicago's media have ample resources to help Chicagoans change the city's culture from youth/adult alienation to youth/adult cooperation.
Hmm. Interesting. But media will always report the news, violent or otherwise.
And you're asking media to facilitate constructive changes in destructive behavior.
You bet I am. And I'm betting that constructive behavior with credible citywide voice will dispel destructive behavior.
There will be less violent news to report.
Well, I'm listening. But how will media monetize this new journalistic role?
They'll profit - handsomely - by tapping the Market of the Whole: the Chicago and Chicagoland market.
This market is huge. Like the markets for
It's a market for information that generates best solutions to intractable problems like gangs and drugs.
It's a market of citizens who want an informed voice in the government decisions that affect their lives.
Aggregate this market honorably,
Work with it, Mayor Emanuel, and you're making smarter decisions with informed, citywide input.
And Chicagoans are working with you to make
The 20th century I Will City is working as a 21st century We Will city.
Slow down. You're reaching for the stars. Exactly how does this market-driven media function?
Its dynamic formats maximize the interactive, dialogic capabilities intrinsic to any medium.
They embody theaxiom that productivity equals profitability: that demonstrably positive outcomes generate strong advertising revenues.
Working in concert, they comprise an informal citywide civic media network committed to defining and solving Chicago's gang/drug problem. This media has five characteristics:
It's a mediating media. Issue-centered. Non-partisan. Impartial. It makes Chicagoans (including City Hall) responsive and accountable to each other.
It's rule-governed to ensure inclusiveness, credibility, productivity and participant safety. It keeps us honest. Brings out the best in us. Smartens us up instead of dumbing us down.
It competes and cooperates with existing media, which, at their option, can use its formats or devise their own. Its People System of ordinary Chicagoans interacts with Chicago media's Star System of newsmakers and media personalities.
In the 1990's, The
Will Chicago - and Chicagoland - do likewise?
Will the I Will city contain or solve its gang/drug and youth violence problems?
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Here, with occasional updates, are our archival posts
1992: Mayor Daley Speaks
lost two generations of young people to gangs and drugs. Adults have
failed to solve the problem.
- Mayor Richard M. Daley to 50 Chicago YMCA Youth Aldermen, March '92
DALEY'S CHALLENGE TO CHICAGO
Daley then told the students he wanted to talk to them about gangs and drugs. "Chicago," he said, "has lost two generations of young people to gangs and drugs." He then said that "adults have failed to solve the problem" and challenged the fifty YMCA Youth Alderman "to formulate a drug policy of your own."
1996: the West Drug Area Shutdown Program
THE FAR WEST SIDE: CHICAGO'S DRUG DEALING
May 1997. Next, consult the community and develop a sensible strategy. To this end, we teamed up with The Austin Voice and popular talk show host Cliff Kelley of WVON radio. We listened to Austin residents and pioneered a bold new concept: media-based community policing. Basically, this strategy is CAPS (Chicago's Alternative Policing Strategy) reinforced by radio, TV, newspapers and the Internet. To succeed, citizens and police would need to implement it together - a difficult undertaking, given the depth of citizen mistrust of police in Austin. To test the waters, we convened a meeting of community leaders and newly appointed 15th District Commander John Richardson. We wanted to see if Austin police and citizens could work together on what everyone agreed is Austin's worst problem: out-of-control street drug dealing. As it turned out, Commander Richardson would do some testing himself. At the meeting, he challenged the community leaders to develop a list of all of Austin's public drug dealing areasand said 15th District police would do likewise. In two months, community leaders and police would meet again to compare lists.
July 1997. To everyone's surprise, the lists, when compared, were nearly identical. This was a great trust builder. Citizens and police then formulated the West Side Drug Area Shutdown Project, which they launched at a big community meeting of 300 Austin residents held at a local church. At the meeting, Commander Richardson said he was preparing a Top Ten list of drug areas for closure. Soon The Voice front-paged photos of the Top Ten areas along with an elaborate precinct-by-precinct list of all 71 public dealing areas in Austin. Citizens were encouraged to contact The Voice and WVON radio to verify police progress in keeping the top ten areas drug-free. The strategy was and is simple: to reduce juvenile arrests by using media to empower the communtiy to help police banish drug dealers from the streets, one or more drug dealing areas at a time. Here's the official Austin list of 71 drug areas as it appeared in The Voice in November, 1997.
January 1998. Three other West Side police districts - 25th, 11th and 10th - picked up on the success of the Shutdown strategy in Austin and began implementing their own versions of it. The Shutdown strategy is scalable. Once adapted by the city, it would banishing public drug dealing from all 25 Chicago police districts, district by district. Here's the 25th District list that appeared in The Voice :
2001: A Brief Update
WHAT'S HAPPENED SINCE 1998?
The upside: there are lots of constructive ideas for rebuilding communities that have banished drug dealers; we have developed some ourselves. In terms of concrete achievements, the Shutdown Project worked wonders. It successfully pilot-tested civic media under the most challenging conditions. With a budget of zero dollars, Shutdown was and is the most effective anti-drug strategy Chicago has ever seen. (Harris Bank did generously donate $2,500 and hosted one of our community meetings for 150 people.) Here's how we:
JULY 2001. This human tragedy continues to play out in staggering numbers as police book Chicago children by the tens of thousands despite a citywide decline in crime. In Chicago's far West Side neighborhood of Austin, 15th District police recorded 14,000 arrests in 2000, mostly of juveniles. That's a full 10% of the total of Austin's 25th police district population of 144,000.