November 14, 2018

Putting Boys in a Cell on Wheels

One really creative initiative for keeping at risk boys out of jail was described in an article in the Milwaukee Neighborhood News (MNN). It's about a rolling jail cell on wheels! The mobile cell is part of the work of the Phenomenal Men’s Support Group (PMSG), a nonprofit dedicated to, ". . . helping youth make good decisions that lead to positive futures."


Johnson “Smithy” Chapman, a PMSG member, describes how they partnered with the Milwaukee County Sheriff’s Department to create the “Cell on Wheels.” For the last six years, the group has taken their rolling jail cell to neighborhood events to show young people what it’s like to be incarcerated. They routinely visit community events including church gatherings, school events, and block parties.

Mr. Chapman said most of the PMSG members are men in their 50s. Like him, most are military veterans, and some have suffered negative life consequences, including incarceration because of substance abuse or drug dealing. After serving in Vietnam, Chapman himself struggled with PTSD and substance abuse, which led to a three-year jail sentence.

As the young people visit the rolling cell, the PMSG men are there telling them stories, encouraging them take their education seriously, and become contributing members of society. By creating Cell on Wheels, Mr. Chapman says he hopes to, ". . . shatter misconceptions and provide a clear picture of life in prison."



In this audio clip, Mr. Chapman describes what the PMSG men are doing:


To read the whole story about these men and their great idea, go to the full article in the Milwaukee Neighborhood News at this link.

"...use your life's experience
to create a better world..."

What a great way to make a point to vulnerable youngsters, and to use your life's experience to create a better world at the same time. The PMSG men are doing their part to reduce youth incarceration and the school to prison pipeline. I can't help but wonder what our communities would be like if all men showed up sharing their important life experience with our boys in some way.

I honor the good men of the truly Phenomenal Men’s Support Group. Thank you for stepping up. You are all truly phenomenal!



CONTACT EARL: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm also available to help you bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

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© Copyright 2005-2018 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
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November 7, 2018

Man-Making Stories from Around the World

Because I have been working and writing in this field for many years, I have the benefit of a unique perspective on the world of man-making. Many of you, the subscribers and readers of this blog, think of me when you come across a related story and you send them along. Thanks! Taken together, the ever-growing collection gives me this very positive feeling because it means men, all around the world, are showing up for boys in many different and creative ways. It's really a force for optimism in my life.

While I have shared many of these kinds of story ideas with you in the blog over the years, I get many more suggestions than I'm able to research and turn into blog posts. With this post I'm trying something new. Going forward, I'll be occasionally sharing a short list of what has been showing up in my inbox. This listing will be simple, unfiltered reporting, and I'll leave the vetting up to you.

Thanks again for your contributions and please keep them coming. Thanks even more for caring about all our young guys.

Here's a few stories to get started. I hope you enjoy these offerings as I do.



The OK Program in Little Rock, Arkansas is described in this article. It brings together black police officers and pastors to train black men in the community to become mentors to young boys. The program puts these mentors in schools on a regular basis. One of the goals of The O.K. Program described in the article is to provide adult male mentors who can, ". . . cultivate an environment at these schools to where these kids can understand the importance of learning, getting an education, and critical thinking." There is a great video with the story, and I really like the special "O.K." handshake.

". . . I love you, man."

There is a beautiful line from Little Rock police Sgt. Willie Davis, where describing how he tells these often fatherless boys, ". . . I love you, man. I'm not your dad, but I'm an advocate, so we're going to take care of you and make it right." More information on The O.K. Program website, a link from the City of Little Rock website!



Dads for a Day is a faith-based program founded by Curtis Ostrander about two years ago. Its goal is to help boys in middle and high school navigate their way through the teen years to adulthood. In this article in The Villages Daily Sun, it describes how the boys usually meet a few hours on a regular basis with their Dad for a Day mentors. Sometimes visits are longer and include fishing trips, shooting hoops, disc golf and dozens of other ways the men and boys can interact. Mr. Ostrander says, “We provide free, one-to-one mentoring programs for boys in homes without fathers . . ..” In his research Mr. Ostrander learned, ". . . in the United States, 33 percent of children live without their father in the home . . .". The article is rightly titled, "Changing the future one teen at a time."



This room smells
like a French whorehouse!

Chicago Times Article about Shaving offers this fun opinion piece in which a man reminisces and worries that our young men aren't learning about the art of shaving. I love this article because of the prominent Rite of Passage that comes with a young man's fist shave. Here's a previous Man-Making Blog post on the topic of a boy's first shave. It stirs some familiar memories when the author quotes his mom's saying, “This room smells like a French whorehouse!” He says, "I guess I knew what she meant. Too much Old Spice."



Future Kings is a story from the township of Soweto (Johannesburg), South Africa. There, a man named Rams Mabote, working through his foundation, aims to create a platform where young men in the impoverished Soweto townships can ". . . have hope again that all is not lost." Rams says, "We spoke about everything - from soccer to sin. What was interesting is that I thought I was mentoring these boys, but what happened is that these boys changed me."
"I was mentoring these boys,
but what happened is that
these boys changed me."

According to Rams, ". . . our boys need to hear stories that being poor was not the reason to fail, and that many people who are successful today have struggled in the past. Future Kings is all about is telling boys new narratives."



Let me know if you like this kid of post.
If so, there are a lot more of these stories to come!



CONTACT EARL: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm also available to help you bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

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© Copyright 2005-2018 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
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October 30, 2018

Boys and Men "Woke" to Women's Truth

Very simply stated, those of us doing "man-making" work with boys must always be listening for any demeaning or insensitive references to the women or girls in the boys' lives. As adult men, we also need to continually work toward being impeccable role models. The goal for all must be to have every male be as "woke" as possible to women's truth and to be willing to be held accountable for lapses in word or deed.

"The goal . . . to have every male as "woke" as possible
to women's truth . . . "

On the International Day of the Girl, Jimmy Kimmel, host of the evening show Jimmy Kimmel Live, invited musician and Texas State University dance teacher, Lynzy Lab, to sing her song titled, "A Scary Time." Her song was a direct response to Donald Trump saying, “This is a very scary time for young men.” The video (below) of Ms. Lab performing her song had over 11.2 million views.

One of the many things I loved about this video, beyond the fact that it's great, is how Jimmy Kimmel admits to his lack of female literacy. He simply and honestly says, " . . . I didn't know what it was like to be a woman . . .". He didn't get shameful or apologetic, he just owned the fact he was not informed. He then went on to do something about that problem by introducing Lynzy Lab and her wonderful song. In doing so, he gave millions of his viewers what I'd call a gentle push in the woke direction.


If the video doesn't show up use this link.

Let's all keep this conversation moving forward,
but especially those of us working with boys.



CONTACT EARL: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm also available to help you bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

FACEBOOK SHARE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the Facebook "Share" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page! (The button is only on the MM Blog, and not in subscription posts delivered by email.)


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© Copyright 2005-2018 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
Sharing with attribution allowed. All other use require permission.

October 22, 2018

Boys Speak about their Rite of Passage

One of my brother's in mission is Dick Baker, a member of JourneymenUK. It's a group or men providing Rites of Passage Adventure (RoPA) experiences for young men in the United Kingdom. The organization describes their work this way:

Our Rite of Passage Adventure is a transformational weekend for boys aged 14 to 17, offering them the chance to take a bold step towards becoming the kind of man they want to be. The RoPA is a three day event designed to give the boys of our community the challenge and support they need as they begin their journey to adulthood. We model healthy boundaries, creative co-operation, the capacity to transform and embody strong emotions positively and compassionately, and we challenge the boys to face themselves and their future with courage, humor and integrity.

"...we challenge the boys
to face themselves and their future
with courage, humor and integrity."

Here is what Dick said about JourneymenUK's most recent annual RoPA:

We've just returned from our 7th UK RoPA. Thirty-five staff came together to create the conditions for fifteen new JMen (Journeymen) to find something they need within themselves and get seriously blessed along the way. It was, as always, an awesome and awe inspiring weekend.

We had the homecoming last night which was moving and heartfelt – to witness a boy talk about his experience in front of his community, being truly seen and blessed, maybe for the first time, even by a parent, is quite something.

After many years of trying, this year we had a women’s blessing for staff at the RoPA. After a days container building and before the boys arrived, 10 or 12 women showed up and held the men in circle and blessed them – it was a quite extraordinary and moving moment.

Once again I’m left knowing this work does change the world and maybe it is sometimes even a matter of life and death.


The video Dick sent just below is powerful testimony, in the boy's own words, about the impact of this kind of experience during this time in their lives.


If this clip doesn't show up use this link.

My guess, if you're a man watching this video, you'll have something like one of the following reactions:
  • "I'm glad some men are doing something those boys!"
  • "I wish I would have had something like that growing up!"
  • "I know a kid who could really use an experience like that about now."
The experience of having a group of men help a boy make a positive crossing into manhood is powerful, and sadly still a rarity in most cultures. Today, young males, who are being propelled toward manhood by their body chemistry, are left with self-initiation, finding their own, often twisted path toward becoming a man. Sadly, the results are often tragic for boys, families and our communities.

"I know a kid..."

If you're curious about this form of men's work, or if you have any comments, send me a message. You never know what an inspired man or group of men might create that could change a young man's life.



CONTACT EARL: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm also available to help you bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

FACEBOOK SHARE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the Facebook "Share" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page! (The button is only on the MM Blog, and not in subscription posts delivered by email.)


TWEET: Send this post along to your friends or follow me on Twitter!

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© Copyright 2005-2018 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
Sharing with attribution allowed. All other uses require permission.

July 18, 2018

The Other Thailand Rescue Story

The 12 young boys and the coach of the Thai Wild Boars soccer team, once trapped in a flooded cave for more than two weeks, are out of the hospital. They are finally going home to loving and tearful families. Like myself, probably you, and the rest of the world, we were all completely captured by this dramatic rescue story and it's very happy ending. I won't repeat the many compelling details of the historic and heroic tale. But I want to suggest that beyond the story about the boys, there is another story just behind the lead. A story I feel accounts for some of its power to capture and hold the world's attention.

That other story is a tale about what I call "men's work." It's about men, who on hearing the call to save the boys, came in droves from all over the world. It's about how all those adult male warriors braved unimaginable dangers and suffering to save the lost young guys. It's really an ancient story about how, down through the ages, when the boys were in danger of being lost to their community, the men came for them. While the Thailand cave rescue is a slightly different narrative, and though we haven't heard this story so profoundly demonstrated in recent times, this is a very old tale.

It's really an ancient story...

In the old days, in almost all cultures all across the world, when the power of testosterone and young male adolescence was changing the young men in dangerous ways, something had to be done. When the boys were getting in trouble, creating chaos in the villages, and challenging the authority of the adults around them, the men came to get the fledgling males. They took the boys away to man's world and repeated rituals and lessons to teach the boys what it means to be a man and help them understand their responsibility to their community. In doing so, the men were civilizing the hatchling males, and, in the process, saving both the boys and their culture's way of life.

I have participated in many different Rites of Passage experiences built on this ancient template. What I know to be true is that this work, men's work, is hardwired into all males. In these passage experiences, without too much training, what I might call the maleness of the dance takes over. Intuitively, men, Elders, and young men all seem to know their place in the sacred drama. The result is always a moving and positive experience for

They were just boys in a pack heading out
on a great young guy adventure
. . . when they got unlucky.

To be clear, the Thai Wild Boars guys were not out of control adolescent males. They were just boys in a pack heading out on a great young guy adventure . . . when they got unlucky. They were at an age where they were beginning to test themselves, on the soccer field or taking risks in a cave. The fates conspired to set up this story of the men coming to save the boys for us all to watch.

I'll not go on here about the countless young males still today who are "trapped" in circumstances that threaten their lives. Boys who today also need the men to show up because they need rescuing. I've often written here about the loud and seemingly unending call for the men in our communities to heroically step into action on their behalf. I think the fact that this call is NOT being answered in so many communities today is another reason the Thailand rescue was so compelling. We all know all so many of our boys are waiting for the men to arrive. It was beautiful to see it played out so dramatically.

At this moment I simply want to honor all the men who heard the call to action in Thailand and around the world, and then showed up. Each of those men who came contributed what they could to the rescue. Especially 38 year-old Lieutenant Commander Saman Gunan, the Thai navy seal who gave his life doing his part to save the boys. Thank you all for giving so much of yourselves and for being such great role models.

The story of the boys rescue, and how relentless and selfless the men who saved them were, fills me with hope. Yet other boys are still waiting and there is still much men's work to do.



CONTACT EARL: Send Earl a message. I'm very interested in your thoughts on any man-making post or topic. I'm also available to help you bring man-making initiatives to your community or organization.

FACEBOOK SHARE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the Facebook "Share" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page! (The button is only on the MM Blog, and not in subscription posts delivered by email.)


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SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email a few times a month, use this link for a free subscription.

© Copyright 2005-2018 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
Sharing with attribution allowed. All other use require permission.