Majora Carter

I have carved out a bit of time to take advantage of Majora Carter being on campus. I strongly encourage you to learn more about her work and her group if you have no clue who I am talking about.

On the surface, “environmental justice” may seem totally disconnected with Education and Unit 4 in particular. Take a look at the information PDF for the sessions with Majora – you will see the dots start to connect between the University and the children. It seems to me, after watching several of her videos and especially listening to her last night, that Majora has taken a step back from life and has viewed things from the 10,000 foot perspective, and then zoomed in on just about everyone impacted, pushing, cajoling, sweet-talking, urging and basically getting people off their duffers and into action. One gentleman last night humbly got up to observe that we have a world-class University and yet their appears to be so little effect of such a prestigious institution in our own community. I myself have felt that way at times, and have heard others voice the same thought, even here in this blog. I think the workshops aspire to kickstart a new initiative to change that around, to open the door and push/pull people through.

I am going to go find out. I have taken a day off work to go to part of the workshops (have commitments for the afternoon already). This isn’t just about teaching kids. This is about improving the land, improving the people, improving the culture, improving our city. It is extremely ambitious. And entirely possible.

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8 Responses to “Majora Carter”

  1. charlesdschultz Says:

    Well that was disappointing. I am going to refrain from saying much right now because I have both my pessimistic and my cynic’s hat on.

  2. Chuck Jackson Says:

    it got better but I too had to leave before the real work began…

  3. charlesdschultz Says:

    Details?

    As both you (Chuck) and Pattsi observed after the first panel this morning, there was an amazing lack of community people, and an amazing abundance of VIPs. It was disappointing that the audience was so small; I wonder if the two are correlated for a reason.

    I was expecting a workshop. I was expecting “a constructive university-community dialogue to brainstorm creative new approaches to improving the health and wellbeing of our community.” What happened? How did 27 separate groups sponsor such an influential person and invite movers and shakers to the table, but have little to no community? Where are the announcements in the NG, WCIA, or WDWS? I am confused? What did I miss?

    It was interesting when I asked Barbara Minsker what Brian (Minsker) thought of all this – all she did was shrug her shoulders. I saw Sue Grey’s name on the roster, but I did not see any evidence of Unit 4 folks. Was Unit 116 represented? I have a lot of respect for Marcel Miller, who spoke about the huge disconnect that John Ruffin was brave enough to mention; Mr. Miller has also spoken at the recent Public Candidate Forum and at least one Champaign County Board meeting that I listened to. I suspect he has been very active in many city meetings. I get the feeling I want to talk to him some more.

    While standing around between sessions, I overhead Majora speaking with participants and panelists. She was amazingly graceful and conversational towards all of them. (Much more so than myself, for example *grin*) I hear that she did a tour before the conference on Thursday night, and it seems to me that the tour might have been the most impactful part of her visit. Maybe.

  4. pattsi Says:

    By chance do you mean Martel Miller?

  5. charlesdschultz Says:

    Thank you for correcting me – yes indeed.

  6. Patricia Brady Says:

    I believe that the University is more connected with the local schools than most people know. For example, the College of Education’s Center for Education in Small Urban Communities is very involved. You can see their activities at
    http://education.illinois.edu/smallurban/about.html
    I would love to see a list of the research, support, and direct involvement that the University has with Unit 4 and other local schools–I’m sure there is a lot going on that I don’t know about.

  7. charlesdschultz Says:

    Patricia, thanks for stopping by and chiming in. 🙂

    I totally agree, I know there is a ton of stuff going on. I am torn about “knowing it all”; as I talk to Board Members, the Superintendent and University Professors, I am always amazed at the breadth of partnerships and established connections. From my perspective, it seems like many of these activities occur under a rock merely because they are not splashed all over the news (and there is no list, as you mentioned, Patricia). Perhaps what it boils down to is a statement made by Martel Miller and repeated by many others; if we have a world-class University, why don’t we have a world-class public education system? I realize that there are thousands of variable factors involved and one does not necessarily imply the other, but it is something I think about from time to time.

    I also get the impression that we have not focused our attention on common, mutually beneficial end-goals; instead of lasers, we have widely dispersed “micro goals” where groups and individuals are doing their own thing. Most of those are good things, even great things. But there is broken trust (which already exists) and obviously some parents elect to patronize the private sector to satisfy their education needs – we have ample evidence that the local parochial and specialized schools are thriving and not so much ample evidence that public schools are thriving.

    We have a ton of awesome, positive goodness. We also have challenge areas. Let us acknowledge the good and bad, encouraging the former and transforming the latter.

  8. pattsi Says:

    Does not anyone else besides me wonder why within the last decade and a half there are so many more private schools along with significant out migration to Mahomet, Monticello, and St. Joe? This is a research project just waiting to happen and would yield very useful information.


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