A Gangsters Path to Peace Prize

Dec 20, 2009

This month’s issue of Youth Today highlights the story of Brian King and his path from the streets of Chicago as a high ranking member of the Gangster Disciples to receiving the 2009 California Peace Prize.  The California Wellness Foundation recognized three leaders from throughout the state for their significant contribution to peace and violence prevention within our most vulnerable communities. 

I had an amazing personal experience while attending the conference where these honorees were recognized.  I found myself in a room with nearly 300 people who represented all walks of life and carried with them individual stories of pain and perseverance that were both eye opening and humbling. Some had been part of the problem that so many are trying to solve in our neighborhoods while others were the real victims.  I met an incredible woman who had lost both of her sons in two separate drive by shooting incidents 16 years ago and has since built an organization called “Drive By Agony” to work with youth and the media to build a voice against violence.  What touched me the most is that I was in a room full of people who have made a decision to be part of the solution and are committing their life’s work to doing what they can to BE the difference.  I loved what honoree Olis Simmons from Youth UpRising shared with us about preventing violence.  She said “Be expansive in your notion of prevention. It’s not simply preventing a physical disease; it’s preventing the loss of hope.”

Design Thinkers; the brillance of David Kelley

Aug 2, 2009

I read a great article last week from an issue of Fast Company Magazine about the brainstorming approach called design thinking.  Some say it is part art and part science.  I love the idea of a methodology that incorporates multiple disciplines and invites the world at large into the creative process.  Kelley’s firm IDEO  which established this approach called design thinking operates with a focus that lies at the intersection of insight and inspiration informed by business, technology and culture.  This kind of stuff gives me hope that we really can come up with solutions that nobody has before.  It gets even better when you read about Kelley’s willingness to share their methodology knowing that they will always be able to outdo what has been already thought of.  He doesn’t operate in the fear of scarcity.  It is a powerful combination of attitude and approach for the common good.  His next challenge?  Redesigning the way designers are educated at Stanford’s new “D School”.

Practical Wisdom

May 27, 2009

I watched a great video of Barry Schwartz’s talk at the Ted conference on our loss of wisdom in this country.  He defines practical wisdom as the combination of moral will and moral skill – the will to do right by other people and the skill to figure out how to do what is right.  His perspective was primarily related to corporate America and our bureaucracies.  I’m finding that we have a ton of practical wisdom inside of our most disenfranchised communities.  I learn so much from so many people I am getting to know.  They are just horribly disconnected.  Here is the link to Barry’s talk:


So one of my new friends in the community wrote to me this morning in reply to my email to her:

Marie wrote:

“Like i said before many people don’t even turn their heads for people like us, but you showed us a different side. Even though we’re still trying to hold on to the good positive ways you present to us we will still believe that The Almighty has His hand on us and many others. So we thank you and all the people involved for acknowledging us and if we can be of service please call. We’re willing to help as much as possible. Thanks again!”

Manuel and Maria
Manuel and Maria

We can’t miss people like Marie and her husband Manuel…..

I don’t want to miss them.

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