For four years, now, I've been doing essentially a loose systems study of York, PA. I have studied the history, volunteered in the city and county, swapped data and talked initiatives with a lot of officials and grassroots activists, and worked as a robotics team coach and a substitute teacher to really get an up close look at a school district that is clearly failing most of the people involved in it, including the teachers. I have triggered some initiatives, been part of some, and some have failed, some have succeeded, and many have just... happened and been mildly successful but so far not had a big impact.
A lot of the time, the difference between an idea being really successful and an idea not really going anyplace appears to be whether or not there is money to make it happen.
And in this city, there is not much money. In the county, (especially the suburbs right outside the city limits) there is a lot more money. But the county as a whole is still one of the less wealthy and more troubled counties in PA.
So I have been studying how to write grants. I'm not really crazy about the grant funding system as a whole, though, because clearly there have been a bunch of helpful initiatives in the city that were grant-funded and sure they were great for the period of the grant, but then they just *ended*. This is actually a problem with public funding in general - the funding is unstable. My sister has been mostly working for public entities like cities, so I have seen pretty close second-hand how de-stablising it can be not knowing if your job will be funded next year.
Anyway, in all of this volunteer work, I have been pretty quietly in the background. Building relationships, finding out what different groups are doing, considering how new information systems could help. And I've attended terrific talks and discussions, taken copious notes, meant to write up a summary or reaction for wider distribution, and just not had the time.
I'm trying to decide right now if I should pursue, like, academic or magazine publication of these things, or just blog about them. I'd like to have a circle of readers I can discuss them with who are interested in things like institutionalized patterns of injustice, intersectionality of challenges, and the various systems involved, like health care, mental health care, food production and distribution, banks, the justice system, the educational system(s), social work, drug and alcohol rehabilitation, the environment, government, and the many dozens of mostly non-profit non-governmental organizations that are already trying to engage with these complex problems.
I also need some income, and am just enough disabled by my chronic health issues that taking a full time job is not in the cards.
So I was thinking about creating a Patreon to see if other people would be willing to support my work - support me as a tremendously underpaid substitute teacher, support my ability to travel even regionally to connect with others, and support my spending time to write grants that will hopefully give us some of the wherewithal to try some of the solutions this community has already suggested. And one of the things I can offer my supporters is to write up for them those inside-look summaries or workshops and meetings that reflect my growing understanding of the various challenges that lie before us.
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