Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Let's Give 'Em Something to Talk About....

If you didn't read Sunday's CA Viewpoint section, you missed a great article on the issues on which the candidates for October's mayor and City Council races should focus ("Talk Issues, Not Dirt," Blake Fontenay). I don't know about you, but I really would like to hear serious, constructive debate on issues I care about; issues that plague this city; issues that we need to address if we are going to move forward. Still in line with the Covenant With Memphis (post your ideas there too if you haven't), I thought we could give the candidates something to talk about.

So, let's continue what Blake started. What are the issues you would like to hear addressed? What ideas do you have and would like to hear discussed/debated? Let's give them something to talk about during this election cycle.

As for me, among a number of things, I want to hear about economic development and what each candidate (mayoral and council) plans to do to spawn economic development for all neighborhoods/people/groups in this city. Many neighborhoods in the inner-city are plagued with extreme poverty and are riddled with blight. Specifically, I want to hear real plans of action for drastically reducing the approx. 23% poverty rate; decreasing the unemployment rate (5.6% community wide; approx 11% in the Black community); creating real opportunities for minority/disadvantaged business participation in government contracting (Blacks get less than 1% of the business--Blacks make up 61% of the population!).

I'll pick one more. I want to hear candidates discuss their plans for creating racial harmony in this city. Who has a plan to bring this community together? Who amongst the candidates is not afraid to broach the topics of race and class in efforts of building us up? Who will step up and make us all realize we want the same things and that we won't get them until we come together?

So, what do you say--let's give them something to talk about!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

I'm a mentor, she's a mentor, he's a mentor, we're all mentors, wouldn't you like to be a mentor too?

The Leadership Academy has a wonderful way for people to step up and do their part in improving Memphis. The Academy is currently searching for people to serve as mentors.

According to the Leadership Academy's website, "young people with mentors are:

· 52% less likely than peers to skip school
· 46% less likely than peers to start using drugs
· 27% less likely than peers to start drinking
· 33% less likely than peers to get into fights

Mentored youth in Shelby County:

· 73% raised goals and expectations
· 87% went to college or planned to

(Statistics provided by the Memphis Mentoring Partnership & National Mentoring Partnership, 2006)."

Now, those statistics alone should make you want to stop what you're doing and to sign up for the mentoring program right now. So, contact Douglas Scarboro, Director of Community Engagement, at 901-527-4625 ext 14 or dscarboro@leadershipacademy.org for more information about this wonderful opportunity. When you sign up, you will be paired with one of the following organizations:

· Boys and Girls Clubs of Memphis - Make a strong connection with a child by mentoring one-on-one using the BGCM curriculum at one of their sites located throughout the city. Mentors interact for two hours a month with Boys and Girls Clubs members.

· Connect—Memphis City Schools (MCS) - Make an impact on a MCS student during the school day! Connect offers supervised one-on-one mentoring with an individual child during the school day. Mentors serve once a week for at least an hour each time.

· The Exchange Club - Assist with C.A.M.P. (Comprehensive Anger
Management Program)
where children learn social skills that enable them to form and maintain healthy relationships. Mentors work with children for 1-2 hours a week for 12 weeks.

· Memphis Athletic Ministries - Ever wanted to coach where winning is not the main goal? Be a coach for a MAM basketball, golf or soccer team! Practice once a week and play on Saturday with Memphis’ future stars.

· Youth Villages - This is your opportunity to become a child’s reason to smile! Mentors meet with children two to four times a month over a six month period. Influence a child’s perspective by showing them Memphis through your eyes!

Monday, July 9, 2007

Covenant With Memphis

Journalist and political pundit Tavis Smiley created the Covenant with Black America, a plan of action for addressing concerns of the African-American community. The Covenant covers ten issues: healthcare, criminal justice, education, affordable housing, voting, rural development, police accountability, economic prosperity, environmental justice, and the digital divide. To assist communities to actually give the Covenant some life, Smiley also published the Covenant in Action.

What if we produced the Covenant with Memphis?! What concerns would we include? What action plans would we implement? What role would you play in breathing life into the plan? I submit that the CWM would have to include race, education, government accountability, and economic development/poverty. What else should be included?