Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Monday, September 4, 2017
Obama Foundation puts new spin on South Side Short videos released on social media highlight communities, not president
Short videos released on social media highlight communities, not president
Margo Strotter, second from right, works at her Bronzeville restaurant, Ain't She Sweet Cafe, on Thursday. She took part in an Obama Foundation video about the South Side. (Brian Cassella/Chicago Tribune )
By Lolly Bowean Chicago Tribune
It's only a 58-second video, but for Jahmal Cole, it was a chance to change some minds.
So in the short clip now circulating on social media, Cole boasts about the long legacy of African-American homeownership, block clubs and neighborhood activism in Chatham — the South Side community he calls home.
"What you always hear about the South Side … all you hear about is the violence," said Cole, who runs the nonprofit organization My Block, My Hood, My City that takes teenagers to tour neighborhoods across the city. "But we have great architecture, great food, great culture. People need to see that. They need to see people on the ground getting it done. A limited mindset is what's holding our community back."
As plans to construct the Obama Presidential Center in Jackson Park are being sketched out, the Obama Foundation still has to raise hundreds of millions of dollars to fund the construction, obtain city permits, select contractors and hire staff. It has to win favor from a community that has an inherent distrust of large, outside institutions.
But the organization also has to tackle a larger issue: the national and international perception of the South Side at a time when the city is being branded by President Donald Trump as a center of violence, poverty and strife.
Indeed, in Woodlawn, the community just west of where the center's campus will be located, per capita yearly income is $18,900 and the unemployment rate is 1.5 times the rest of Chicago, according to census data. Along with other communities on the South and West sides, it has experienced a disproportionate amount of violence.
Yet, foundation leaders say, media coverage and the national conversation has overshadowed success stories.
Recently, the foundation released a series of short videos on its Twitter and Instagram pages that pushes back at that narrative and presents a different story. For some, the move illustrates one of the tougher challenges the organization faces, and that is convincing outsiders to not only travel farther south than most of the popular tourist attractions, but to stay and patronize the rest of the community.
"(The foundation seems) to be trying to see beyond just President Barack Obama and see the whole community," said Benjamin Hufbauer, a professor at the University of Louisville who is an expert on presidential libraries and museums. "That's somewhat different than how other presidential centers have engaged the public."
The video series is also unusual because rather than spotlight the president, which is what nearly all the other centers do with their social media pages, this effort highlights ordinary residents, he said.
"The center will probably have a certain amount of spin and will brand Obama in a certain way — all presidential centers do," he said. "But Chicago is a complicated and tough city — the residents there probably wouldn't accept a center that is just PR or ego boosting. There has to be more there."
The social media push comes about two years after the foundation's chair, Martin Nesbitt, told a group of civic leaders and elected officials that the city needed to get its house in order before the center is constructed. By deciding to place the center in the midst of a low-income, African-American community, the president and first lady wanted it to have an impact by bringing money and jobs. But with the world watching, Chicago needs to demonstrate it can fix its own problems, Nesbitt said at the time.
The release of the short videos came just before officials announced the creation of a new nonprofit charged with helping spur economic development in the nearby neighborhoods of Woodlawn, South Shore and Washington Park.
Former U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan and advertising executive Sherman Wright were selected to lead a 25-member committee made up of community activists, business owners, University of Chicago executives and clergy. The group was organized, in part, by the Chicago Community Trust.
But the videos do something different than spur community development, said Pepper Miller, a Chicago-based marketing consultant who is not affiliated with the foundation. They highlight a segment of the community that often feels overlooked while at the same time promoting the area as ripe for investment, she said.
"From my view, it looks strategic, it seems intentional. But it's much-needed," she said of what she sees as a rebranding effort. "The black community has always embraced Obama. This seems like a way to try to include us and think about the way he can have a bigger impact."
When he was president, Obama couldn't focus specifically on Chicago's black community, Miller said. But with this social media push, his foundation's staff can promote and make sure diverse voices are included in the overall vision and gains of the center, she said.
"The Obama Center is not just for Chicago, it is a national and global destination, so the entire community has to be viewed as attractive," she said. "This strategy can work if they are consistent with the message. There has to be a long-term message that builds momentum and reveals a whole other side that people outside don't see."
Michael Strautmanis, the vice president for civic engagement with the Obama Foundation, says the new messaging is neither an attempt to recast the South Side or create allies among stakeholders in the community. Rather, it's the foundation's way of using its platform as a megaphone for others who have been organizing years before the center was even launched.
"The prevailing narrative is inaccurate and incomplete," he said in a recent interview. "It paints the people as doing nothing and not caring about their lives or their destinies. It was important for us to give voice to the people we've met and talked to and use their stories to shed light."
The videos simply allow South Siders to speak up for themselves, he said.
"This is part of what the president has said he wants to do in the next stages of his career," he said. "He knows he can use his platform to inspire people to help create solutions to our problems and be the solution. These are the people who are doing that here, now."
Residents didn't get paid to participate in the videos. It took only hours to tape them and edit them into minute-long packages, both the participants and foundation officials said. The clips take the foundation's nearly 1 million viewers into Pilsen, Englewood and the Grand Boulevard section of Bronzeville — areas that are miles away from where the center will be located.
Emile Cambry, who runs the nonprofit tech incubator Blue 1647 in Pilsen, said he got an email inviting him to be profiled. He thought it was an exciting way to reach a new audience.
"Chicago has gotten a bad rap nationally," he said. "When you talk to outsiders, they don't know about all the good people who are combating the negative. I always say there are a lot of creative people here doing work, and we just need our platforms elevated."
Since the clip was released by the foundation, Cambry said he has seen the response.
"It's the most viral video we've ever had," he said. "More people are getting to hear my story and see the space. I'd like to think they see the authenticity of what we do and our reasons."
With the development of the center, change is going to come to Bronzeville, said Margo Strotter, the owner of Ain't She Sweet Cafe. She wanted to tell her story to spur the type of investment she made 11 years ago.
"I've always been about providing jobs for people in the neighborhood — hiring folks like me that grew up on the South Side and found it difficult to find work," she said.
"That's what we think the center will do: bring jobs to a place that needs them," she said. "They approached me to tape, and I'm on board," she said.
In Cole's clip, he walks down a residential block and the camera captures him among the handsome brick bungalows set back from the glowing, manicured lawns. Like the others who were profiled, he never refers to Obama and doesn't talk about the center at all. He talks quickly about the work his organization does and his motivations.
"The video not only highlighted me, but the community," he said. "My followers went up by a few hundred people and I got words from people all over the world."
But there's another reason besides changing the minds of outsiders that Cole is excited about the videos, he said.
"This is good for us here too — to see these videos," he said. "It's a good look … it reminds us what we already have."
Saturday, August 19, 2017
How 22 words started a $17-million-a-year blog
Source - CNBC
"When I first started [the blog], it was really just to have fun," says Abraham Piper, the founder of viral publishing website 22 Words.
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Image © Provided by CNBC
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Source - The Washington Post
The GOP and Trump deserve each other.
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Image © The Associated Press
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
The Clear Connection Between Slavery and American Capitalism - HBS Working Knowledge - Harvard Business School