Archive for category Engagement
KERA on point for what is really going on – has this on the state of hunger in the State:
A report by the U.S. Department of Agriculture released this week shows that Texas is the second worst in the nation when it comes to hunger, with some 16.3 percent of the households surveyed reporting low or very low food security for the period between 2006 and 2008.
Families facing very low food security in Texas reached 5.7 percent.
Overall, the percentage of families facing hunger reached 12.2 percent.
Mississippi reported the highest percentage of families facing hunger at 17.4 percent.
This year, agencies working with the North Texas Food Bank reported demand from families seeking help for the first time rose 36 percent, and distribution has grown by 46 percent.
Sharply rising unemployment and lengthy administrative delays processing food stamps have exacerbated the situation for many families.
Read the entire report from the Department of Agriculture and learn more about how community organizations are helping struggling families in North Texas on the Community Voices page of KERA’s Economy Web site.
Representatives from several organizations, including 2-1-1 Texas and the North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank, can help families locate food pantries in their area and help them apply for food stamps.
As the Food Banks reach out for funds for food – others start to grow it – I think we will look back at this time and see that it birthed a whole new approach to food – local community grown food. A revolution as great as agriculture itself.
by Jennifer Guerra
Joanne Palek and her brother, Richard, have lived on West Court Street in Flint for 10 years. A few years ago, the abandoned house next door burned down. So they bought the empty lot from the Genesee County Land Bank for exactly $1.00, and then they started to plant.
“We had carrots, we had green beans, we put in broccoli this year, but it didn’t do anything,” explains Palek.
There’s yet another abandoned house on the other side of Palek. As soon as the city pays to tear the house down, Palek says she’ll likely buy that lot too.
“And I know that it’s gonna cost me in tax money and I’m not that flush,” says Palek. “But I would make sure the taxes were paid and Flint got the money for it, whereas right now they’re not getting anything.”
She’s right. Vacant land doesn’t bring in any money for the city. In fact, an Emory University study shows that failure to collect even two percent of property taxes from abandoned houses translates into $3 billion in lost revenue for a city.
It’s the Land Bank’s role to find new uses for all that foreclosed property.
Christina Kelly works at the Land Bank. She says they’ve sold more than 400 empty lots to residents like Palek, though the lots are more this year. They cost $25 instead of $1. But she says it’s still a good deal, not only for the person who buys the lot, but for the neighborhood.
“It actually is very transformative in a neighborhood when you have lots that are gardened and cared for by the community, you can really see visual changes in the surrounding properties,” says Kelly.
The Land Bank has teamed up with a bunch of other groups to form an umbrella organization called Edible Flint. It’s basically a one-stop shop for all your urban gardening needs. The Land Bank provides the land, some materials and support.
“Michigan State Extension provides training and seeds and plants as they are available,” says Kelly. “The Ruth Mott Foundation provides training and technical assistance, and Salem Housing has a tool bank. Any one of those is not as valuable as all of them together.”
And it’s not just for people who want to buy property. Groups can adopt lots for free and get help from Edible Flint. Edible Flint will supply seeds, plants, tools, even a master gardener, anything to get people to care for the vacant lots in their community and help cut down on the city’s huge blight problem.
Bobby Jackson runs the Mission of Hope Day Shelter in Flint. He adopted two vacant lots and planted all kinds of veggies.
Jackson points out all the vegetables in his garden: kale, collard greens, broccoli, cabbage, basil, cilantro.
Anyone in the neighborhood is allowed to come and pick vegetables. Several churches brought their entire congregations to eat from the garden. But Jackson says it’s not just about food.
“The neighbors commended us for making the whole area look better because it was just overgrown and nothing there. And now they had opportunity to have a place to come and share in the work because people that didn’t know their neighbor four houses down met in the garden.”
And he says, since the garden went in, there’s been hardly any vandalism in the neighborhood.
Now, it’s important to note that not every vacant lot can grow vegetables. And while Edible Flint tests the soil, the still a chance of lead and PCBs and asbestos, since Flint was a big manufacturing town back in its hey day.
Still, Joan Nassauer, a professor of landscape architecture at the University of Michigan, says rust belt cities like Flint and Detroit can still turn all those vacant lots into natural assets, even if it’s just a pleasant open green space that gets mowed on a regular basis.
“In a kind of ironic way,” says Nassauer, “these cities that are facing abandoned property, they have the opportunity right now to pause and do it better.”
So, there may not be a lot of hope for all the abandoned and dilapidated houses in Flint that have fallen into foreclosure, but the land still has room to grow.
I am picking up a pattern – do you see what I see? The issue is food. With millions unemployed or under employed, feeding the family is becoming a real worry. Food Banks are getting pressed. The old donate cans of beans or getting old food from retailers is not keeping up. My bet is that this crisis will morph into a new opportunity – for people to grow food in the cities for themselves and for their community.
What are you seeing?
Officials say the face of hunger in North Texas is changing, thanks to historically high unemployment and the nation’s deepest post-WWII recession.
As a result, thousands of North Texans are finding themselves seeking food assistance for the first time, thanks to unemployment, a reduction in pay or work hours and lengthy delays in the state’s food stamp program.
For the North Texas Food Bank’s partner agencies, the number of first-time clients has risen 36 percent.
Among those first-time clients is Plano resident and former healthcare administrator Ray, who shared this story. Ray and his wife volunteer at the food pantry as he continues to look for work.
“When I was laid-off from a well-paid position and my financial obligations began piling up, my wife and I ultimately had to choose between eating and paying the bills. It was then that I shook off my pride and sought assistance from Minnie’s West Plano Food Pantry.”
Overall, food distribution for the North Texas Food Bank is up 46 percent over the same time last year.
Unfortunately, the fast-rising demand has forced some agencies to turn people away due to short supplies.
With help from the campaign launched Tuesday, the North Texas Food Bank hopes to raise $5 million – enough to distribute 20 million meals –by the end of the year.
Learn more about the North Texas Food Bank’s campaign and hear some of the stories from your community here.
The North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank are part of KERA’s Advisory Group for its Economy Project. Learn more about what non-profit groups are doing on the Community Voices page of KERA’s Economy Web site.
I think that Mark Ramsey is one of the best thinkers about radio today – here is a very helpful post that I think sums up what we are all trying to do in the FTMC project. His focus is for profit – but the ideas remain true for all of us.
As we come to the end of the year – I look forward to looking at what we have learned – my bet is that it is more than we think!
- We are solving problems
- We are organized around an audience/people versus a platform
- We work directly with our partners – some of who will fund the work
- We are creating whole channels and platforms for content
- We are measuring outcomes rather than ears and eyeballs”
He starts with this provocation:
“Don’t read this if you don’t care about radio’s future or if you’re counting down the days to your retirement.
Every now and then some thinking comes along that puts it all in perspective. This piece from Ad Age is one such summation of thinking that has been bubbling up over the past few months from folks like Tom Asacker and others.
What is the blueprint for what radio will need to be to compete successfully as a vital enterprise in the years to come?
The trajectory of our future can be summed up as follows:
Almost every consumer marketer I’ve spoken to…is moving toward the goal of making marketing more outcome-specific, targeted, useful and conversational, and less about blasting of what we’ve generally called “brand” messages via specific platforms. They see some of today’s media companies as shaping into useful potential partners in those efforts, and others as increasingly redundant — and they’re spending less and less with the latter.
The radio – media – company of the future will:
1. Act more like a marketing company than a media company.
Says Ad Age: “Good partners will be marketing companies, operations set up and focused on solving brand marketers’ problems by means of the connection they can create with an audience and results that connection can deliver.”
In other words, the model will shift from selling access to listener ears in bulk toward selling solutions to marketers’ problems via connections. That is essentially the difference between “advertising” and “marketing,” so choose your side of the fence wisely.
2. Be organized around an audience and not a platform.
Broadcasters frequently talk about being “platform agnostic,” but too often what that really means is putting our radio signal in other places or on other devices. That’s just transporting the problem, not solving it. Your job is to rally an audience of raving fans and satisfy the appetites of those fans while connecting them to the marketers who crave them. Period.
3. Work directly with marketers.
Being bought off a ranker is not the same as working in partnership with marketers. Increasingly, the ranker-buyers will be the obstacles to our success, not the reason for it.
4. Not just create spaces for ads next to content, it’ll create whole media channels and platforms for brands
Writes Ad Age: “Brands want to be at the center of content and communities and they’re going to create these channels with or without media companies.” It’s up to us to bring the talent to the party and to build these channels in concert with advertisers. Or they will simply build them without us.
5. Employ technologists who can build device-agnostic platforms for marketers.
Note the distinction between building these platforms for marketers and building them for your radio brands. Recognize above all else who is in the driver’s seat. Hint: It’s not your radio brand. It’s your radio brand’s customer base, the marketers.
6. Know how to deliver instantaneous gratification when it comes to measurement, and it’ll be measuring outcomes not outputs. A rating…stat is not going to be enough in the future, and certainly not when it’s presented weeks after the fact.
The dawn of the post-Arbitron world is before us”
Here is a snip and link to a great post by KERA on the North Texas Food Bank – As more people are stretched why not start to think of the Food Bank as the possible centre of a local food system where the system expands from a donation model to a local supply model where people learn also how to grow and make food for each other?
The North Texas Food Bank is working to expand its reach to meet the growing demand and is in its second year of a campaign to narrow the gap between available services and demand by expanding annual access to 50 million meals.
Last year, it provided access to 37 million meals.
The nonprofit agency was created in 1982 to pull together efforts to feed hungry residents of 13 counties, securing donations of surplus unmarketable, but wholesome, food and grocery products to distribute throughout its network. Last year, the agency distributed more than 39 million pounds of food through partner agencies in Dallas, Denton, Collin, Fannin, Rockwall, Hunt, Grayson, Kaufman, Ellis, Navarro, Lamar, Delta and Hopkins counties.
Food collected by the North Texas Food Bank is distributed through 291 agencies, supporting 1,146 feeding and education programs.
Is this an idea that is ripe for Public Stations to add to their work on FTMC? Would it not be the same kind of work – helping glue the community together – telling the stories etc?
Frontline have just put on a very important show, The Warning, that gets behind the regulatory screen. The informed citizen needs to be more skeptical.
CPB have put our project on the front page of their site – Here is the link to the letter that Jack Galmiche sent on your behalf to Pat Harrison. In a quiet way, I think that we are making history. Proving to others and to ourselves how we can become a powerful agency for good in our communities.