December 30, 2011

The Annual Man-Making Blog Survey - 2011

Another year has flown by and it's time again to invite your help in shaping the direction of this blog. As we enter year 8, the Man-Making Blog is approaching 700 subscribers, getting lots of other visitors, and the unsubscribe rate is almost zero. I choose to believe that most of you like the mix of content and the frequency of posting. That said, there is always room for improvement.

Please take a literal minute and respond to a very short, six-question survey. It will help me sharpen my content focus and hopefully make the blog even more interesting or useful to you. Anything you're willing to offer by way of votes, comments, or suggestions will be very much appreciated.

You can respond in two ways described below. In either case, enter your responses and then be sure to hit the "Submit" button at the end of the survey to send the data along to me.

Thanks for your time, support, feedback . . . and most importantly, thanks for your interest in man-making.

Earl Hipp

If you're at the blog webpage, you will find the survey just below.

If you are an email subscriber and do not see the survey in your emailed post,
click on THIS LINK and you'll be taken directly to the online form.


THANK YOU




LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please visit the Man-Making Facebook page and click the "Like" button.

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

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

CONTACT: Send Earl a message.

December 9, 2011

Str8Street – Early Gang Intervention

I’ve always said that we don’t so much have a young male-driven violence problem in our cities as an epidemic of under-male-nourished boys. Without the boy-civilizing influence of older men in young guy’s lives, you are guaranteed to have testosterone-fueled, out of control young men running around trying to be “men,” and getting into trouble. There is an often quoted African proverb, which in effect says, If the young men are not initiated into the life of the Village, they will burn it down just to feel the heat. Today we call that situation a gang problem.

Since my Creepy Guy post a couple weeks ago, I’m on a mission to bring to light the good men who are making a positive difference in young male lives. Recently, I was part of the launch of an extraordinary program called Str8Street. It’s a Carson City, Nevada community program with the potential to reach out to lost and gang-vulnerable young males. In Carson City, there is a growing presence of mostly white and Hispanic gangs. One young man, named Jose, had managed to step out of a gang, gotten clean, and then approached the Boys and Girls Clubs of Western Nevada Mentor Center with an idea. He wanted to do something to keep young kids off the streets and out of the gang life.

About the same time, the staff of the Mentor Center had heard me speak at a conference on how to get men to show up for young males. We all got connected, had many conversations, and together came up with the idea for Str8Street. The goal of the program is to get a diverse tribe of good men involved in doing things with a multicultural mix of young boys before they are old enough to hear the powerful call into gangs.

For Str8Street’s introduction, we invited men from all parts of the community to a presentation I did titled, Building the Men’s Hut: A Conversation about Men, Manhood, and the Boys in Our Village. In attendance were male staff from the Boy’s and Girl’s Club, parole officers, the sheriff, past gang members, college kids, some young dudes, and many good men from the community. No women were allowed. The result of that program, simply put, was almost unanimous support for the intentions and goals of the program. Many men signed up to participate, community support was enlisted, and a launch date chosen.

The launch event was an overnight campout full of games, adventure, food, and time around the fire. Males of all ages and backgrounds were present, shared in the events, and, most importantly, shared their stories and hopes for the future of Str8Street. At the end of the campout, all the participants got a silver dog tag that read Str8Street, marking their participation and the common bond that had been established.

Since the campout, the boys and men have had a wide variety of learning experiences and local adventures. They’ve learned to shop for groceries and then how to barbeque, gone rock climbing, learned how to create and set goals, done some basic car maintenance, explored an art and cultural museum, had CPR training, gone scuba diving in a pool, and played team sports. As the program evolves, boys will have more input into what they want to experience, and a chance to demonstrate leadership by running parts of the meetings. Each event includes time for going over the rules for the group, the event itself, a post-event discussion about what was learned, and always some casual, side-by-side time to learn about what is and is not working in each of the boy’s lives.

What is so innovative about this program is that good men from all parts of the community are involved. The program keeps men engaged because most of the activities appeal to males of all ages, and the time investment is very short term. In addition to the fun, men get to meet, hang out with new men friends and experience the satisfaction of making a positive contribution to their community. It also is true that adult male hearts are often profoundly softened by the connection to the young dudes.

If you know of a program in which good men are making a difference in boy’s lives, let me know and we’ll put the word out here.



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please visit the Man-Making Facebook page and click the "Like" button.

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

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

CONTACT:  send Earl a message.

November 29, 2011

Reaching Up for Manhood

GUEST BLOGGER: The following book review of Reaching Up for Manhood: Transforming the Lives of Boys in America by Geoffrey Canada, has been contributed by Tim Wernette. Tim is a Gender Equity Educational Specialist with the University of Arizona who speaks primarily to high school audiences in the hopes of changing the destructive aspects of gender stereotypes.

If you would like to be a guest blogger and review a book, a film, mentoring program or other resource with a man-making slant, please give me a shout.

One of the more malicious aspects of racism and classism is that disenfranchised people (the poor, people of color) are often marginalized and silenced. That’s why Geoffrey Canada’s Reaching Up for Manhood is especially important. He speaks to us from his experience as an African-American male growing up in the impoverished South Bronx, and as an adult mentor of boys in that community. His insight into the struggles most boys and men face is combined with his understanding of the special challenges faced by young, poor, inner-city boys and men. In the book’s preface, Canada speaks to all of us when he states:

“More and more I have become concerned with what boys think they should be, with what they believe it means to be a man. Our beliefs about maleness, the mythology that surrounds being male, has led many boys to ruin. The image of male as strong is mixed with the image of male as violent. Male as virile gets confused with male as promiscuous. Male as adventurous equals male as reckless. Male as intelligent often gets mixed with male as arrogant, racist, and sexist.”

In addressing issues of risk-taking, self-worth, fatherhood, and sex, Canada covers important ground. He also adds needed perspective on becoming a man when he discusses drug use in the lives of young men and how, when combined with unemployment, they create a devastating mix for many males living in poverty.

While Canada speaks eloquently about the urgent need for adult men to reach out to young males, I would especially encourage those who have programs that include manhood-initiation rituals to read his chapter “Mentors.” It discusses the impact gang membership and imprisonment has on many inner-city young men, and how the lack of understanding of cultural differences can lead to disastrous consequences:
"If we are to save the next generation of young boys, they need to be connected to men so they see examples of the possible futures they might live out as adults. At the same time, we have to be careful that we do not go charging into children’s lives without being properly prepared for the different ways they see the world. It’s as much an issue of class and culture as of race…We must spend time understanding what the children with whom we want to work are going through and living with every day…The gap between the poor and the non-poor, regardless of race, is growing ever larger in this country. Things many of us take for granted – safety, enough food, decent housing, a trip to the movies – poor children may have to struggle to obtain. This often creates circumstances where conflicts and hurt feelings between children and well-intentioned outsiders occur unintentionally."
Canada has written an important book about the importance of mentoring boys and young men, especially those disenfranchised by race and poverty. He has offered all of us an imperative to reach out to these young males, not just so they can avoid imprisonment and/or death, but so they can achieve their full potential and become constructive contributors to our society.



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please visit the Man-Making Facebook page and click the "Like" button.

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

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

November 21, 2011

I’m Really Angry about Creepy Guys

I’m REALLY angry at how one really sick guy can change the world in so many horrible ways. Jerry Sandusky's perversion, in truth, has damaged the lives of millions of people. He’s has become the Bernie Madoff of pedophiles. If you can stand to even think about all this for just a little longer, try on the following:

The obvious is the depth of the damage to the souls of all the young boys he abused, including his own foster son (one of five). They are men today whose lives and the lives of their families, are now filled with dark corners, churning emotions, hidden pain, and destructive shame. The horror of living with an abuser in your life, even after the abuse has stopped, is really incomprehensible to me.

Then there are the many layers of competent, dedicated, and otherwise good people at Penn State who lost it and made horrible and morally inexplicable decisions to not intervene and protect young boys. People who should have immediately taken physical and legal action against this perverted man and done what we all know was the right thing to do. Instead, they hid in denial hoping to insulate their institution from the necessary and inevitable consequences. Now they, and all the people around them, must try to find a way to cope with the tragic consequences of what they did and didn’t do.

Imagine all the students at Penn State and young people all around the world, looking for guidance from adults. All of these young people who, yet again, have to see adults in large institutions behaving shamefully and letting them down by modeling unethical, selfish, and dishonest behavior.

To the list of those hurt, add all the parents of young males everywhere. They now must wonder if they can trust any youth-serving group, mentoring organization, coaches, male teachers, scoutmasters, the men in their religious institutions, and even the men in their neighborhood. It represents a huge tear in the fabric of community trust.
Of course we have to include Men, as a class,
getting kicked in the balls just because they have them.
Of course we have to include Men, as a class, getting kicked in the balls just because they have them. Because the pedophile creeps we hear about are men, now all men are suddenly suspect. Good men who want to show up for young males now have to hold back, or make sure they have a woman with them when they are around boys to avoid indictment. Now there is another reason for men to not trust other men in general, and certainly not trust them with their sons.

I’m glad this guy has been stopped and will certainly be punished. I'm glad a whole school community, and maybe the world, will get a chance to look in the ethical mirror. But I’m angry at the media, first, because of its relentless hunger for the next sordid detail. Secondly, I’m really angry the media never gives us a counter-point profile of all the men who have made life-giving and often life-saving differences in boys’ lives. Most men can remember guys who showed up for them, but we rarely hear a story about all the gifts they brought and those who today continue to bring into young male lives.

And then there are the hundreds of thousands of lost boys. Young males without fathers or involved male relatives, boys in foster care, in juvenile detention or jail, all the boys who are lost and severely under male-nourished who now will have an even smaller chance of finding a male ally, advocate, or mentor to help them on their journey to manhood. Because of the sick creeps, the really good men who might have shown up for these lost boys must now have even more courage to withstand the insinuation that if they want to help a young male, it might be because they are pedophiles.

Yes, I’m sad and angry at how one very sick man can do so much damage. I'm sad a public and functional definition of a solid, mature, responsible, and generative "good man" is now getting harder to see in the world around us. Yes, I’m Really Angry that calling men to be man-makers in the lives of all our boys just got a whole lot harder.



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please visit the Man-Making Facebook page and click the "Like" button.

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

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

November 7, 2011

Questions for Men about Man-Making

In a blog post this summer I listed some Questions for Young Guys. If you have young males in a group, these are questions that will invite everyone to participate, and increase both familiarity and acceptance of one another. Some of them were simply conversation starters and others invited some degree of personal disclosure. I thought it might be a good idea to give equal time to men!

One approach for ripening men to man-making with boys is to help them remember their adolescent years. To remind them of the joys, discomforts, and the men that played important developmental roles in their lives. What follows are a few of the questions I asked of the men who contributed their stories to the Man-Making book. You can find additional questions at this link on the Man-Making website or you can download the PDF here. If you can gather a group of men, I guarantee questions like this, discussed in small groups, will lead to some very powerful sharing, are guaranteed to touch a man’s soul, and will be moving for all men present.

1. Important Male Mentors: Who was an important male mentor for you (other than your father) as you were growing up? Tell us how this man helped you along on your journey to manhood.  

2. Being between Boyhood and Manhood: Do you remember shyness, confusion, and the discomforts of no longer being a boy, but not yet being a man? Will you share a story about the rapid growth in your body, your voice changing, your general restlessness, feeling clumsy, stealing for the excitement of it, your emerging sexuality, embarrassing moments (first hard-on), pimples, being with girls, or testing parents' limits?  

3. Important Lessons about Manhood: What were some of your earliest lessons you were taught about how to be a man? Who taught you? Did the lessons come from your father, a relative, a friend, another boy, a person in your neighborhood, or someone else? Tell us about one important lesson you learned as an adolescent about something a man does or doesn’t do?

4. Learning How to Be a Man: Tell us about one of those moments when, on your own, you discovered or figured out one of the pieces to the puzzle called "How to Be a Man." It could have been from experimentation, reading, TV, movies, or just watching older boys and men. What was your discovery, how did you figure it out, and what did you learn?

5. When Did You Become a "Man": What was THE moment in your life when you knew, for sure, that you had become a "man"? What event, action, or ceremony took place so that you knew a line had been crossed and you were no longer a boy and had entered manhood? If you can't remember any defining moment, how do you feel about that now? How do you know you are a "man" today? Simply helping remember they too were adolescent males once upon a time, along with some of the detail, is a great way to put men in touch with the need for good men in boy's lives. I also like to remind men that the good men who did show up for them didn't have any special training!

If you want to take a whack at answering any of these questions, you can go to the Man-Making Blog site, click on the word "comments" below this post and add your response there. You can also send it along to me and I'll add it for you.



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please visit the Man-Making Facebook page and click the "Like" button.

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

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

October 24, 2011

Grounders: Boys, Men, and a Baseball Adventure

With the 2011 World Series in the air, it's a great time to think about baseball. I remember the fall pick-up games in the evening at the local park when I was a kid. Cool nights under the lights, smell of leaves in the air, the hard feel of the ball, and all the fun of having every young male from my small tribe gathered in one place to play the game. Baseball was a big part of so many boys' lives as they were growing up. The connection to other young guys, the physical activity, a code of behavior, being on a team, competition, and often having good men on the sidelines creates a very compelling mix for a young male, and good for him too.

Tom Slone is a man who loves baseball, kids, and he also understands the critical differences good men can make in boys' lives. When he put those passions together, he wound up creating an amazing adventure in which three men accompanied a pack of boys, to see 10 Major League Baseball games, in 10 different cities, and they did it all in 21 days! You have to love boys and baseball to pull that off.

Because Tom is also a mentor, business man, and natural teacher, he consolidated the story about the boys and baseball centered adventure into a book titled Grounders: A Once-in-a-Lifetime Journey of Baseball, History, and Mentoring. The book is full of great baseball tidbits, fun boy-on-the-road stories, and 33 life lessons drawn from their trek. Lessons which can improve anyone’s batting average in life.

Some of the wisdom embedded in Grounders lessons include pearls such as, “It’s OK to Look Back at the Past, Just Don’t Stare; “Help People Be Successful; and one of my favorites, “The Power of Recognition.” As with most of the 33 lessons in the book, the boys on the trip got a chance to experience The Power of Recognition working in real life. During the trip, one of their challenges was to catch people being good at what they do and then actually write them a note of affirmation. Tom helped the boys to learn that by appreciating others, you earn their gratitude, and you get to feel good too. Nice.

The heart of the book for me is how much Tom and the other men care about their young male traveling companions, and how they keep the boys thinking about the men they will become. As they travel from city to city and visit different ballparks, we go along as Tom pulls life-lessons toward the boys. He’s not only offering these young guys the trip of a lifetime, but in so many ways, he makes sure they extract important notions about life that will help them on their journey toward manhood.

In my research with men for the Man-Making book, “the coach” is often described as someone who had an important and often life-shaping influence in their lives. In Grounders, Tom and the other two men not only show up as great coaches, but also as allies, mentors, friends, and co-journeymen on one amazing baseball expedition.

If you like baseball and the idea of helping boys become good men, you’ll love Grounders. You can learn more about Tom Slone at the book’s website and you can order the book from Amazon at this link.



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please visit the Man-Making Facebook page and click the "Like" button.

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

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

October 16, 2011

Your iStuff, Steve Jobs, and a Man-Maker


You may not realize it, but you wouldn't have all your Apple iStuff if a very good man hadn't stepped up for Steve Jobs and the boys in his neighborhood!

In the October 6th issue of Computerworld's on-line newsletter there is an interview with Steve Jobs from way back in April of 1995. In the exchange, Steve talks about how his dad, Paul, a machinist, was very gifted working with his hands. He had a workbench in his garage where, when Steve was five or six, he partitioned off a small section of it for Steve. They spent a lot of time together tinkering with things, including some very basic electronics. But it wasn't until his family moved to Silicon Valley that Steve really discovered his passion for electronics and building things, thanks in large part to a man named Larry Lang.

Larry Lang was an engineer at Hewlett-Packard, a ham radio operator, and really into electronics. Here is how Steve describes Larry's unusual introduction to the kids in the hood:
What he did to get to know the kids in the block was rather a strange thing. He put out a carbon microphone and a battery and a speaker on his driveway where you could talk into the microphone and your voice would be amplified by the speaker.
That introduction worked. One man, sharing something he was interested in with the kids in his community, as they say, launched a thousand ships . . . or in Steve's case, lots of iThings. As a result of that initial encounter, Larry and Steve struck up a friendship and this led to Steve being introduced to Heathkits. Steve said, "These Heathkits would come with these detailed manuals about how to put this thing together and all the parts would be laid out in a certain way and color coded. You'd actually build this thing yourself."

Steve's confidence grew as the Heathkit catalog became familiar territory. Out of the time spent building things with Larry, Steve said he learned, ". . . what was inside a finished product and how it worked because it would include a theory of operation." And maybe most importantly Steve got, ". . . a tremendous level of self-confidence, that through exploration and learning one could understand seemingly very complex things in one's environment."

If you ever wanted evidence of the power of a good man to have a positive influence in the life of a boy, and even the world, Steve Jobs' story about Larry Lang is a solid example. Please do realize that you, being just the man you are today, without any special training, could be the Larry in some boy's life. If, like Larry, you find the courage to share yourself and your interests with the boys in your world, who knows the difference you will make.


"Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else's life. Don't be trapped by dogma -- which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don't let the noise of others' opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow already know what you truly want to become. Everything else is secondary."



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

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

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

October 10, 2011

Tribal Circumcision and "Flying Foreskins"

Tribal Circumcision
I have previously written about and offered video clips describing how painful rites of passage for young males have prevailed over time and in many cultures. The boy's initiation ceremonies among the Xhosa tribe is another a good example. In this tribe, a boy is not differentiated from a girl until he has been circumcised. For young Xhosa males, as you might imagine, they actually look forward to this change in their status and they are willing to face any trial required, no matter how difficult, in order to definitively cross the line into manhood.

For the Xhosa males, their circumcision is only the first step of the ordeal to achieve manhood. After the actual operation, they begin a 10-day period of healing and additional trials. This includes many deprivations including being fed a coarse and half-cooked porridge meant to symbolize their "half-cooked" status as not-yet-men.
. . . being fed a coarse and half-cooked porridge is meant
to symbolize their "half-cooked" status as not-yet-men.
After the healing period, there is a community feast, but these new men must continue to remain separated from their friends, family, and community for another two or three months (although today that time frame is often shortened because of the demands of modern life). Eventually they return to the village as men, with full rights, privileges, and adult male responsibilities. I found it interesting that, as part of their return, the initiation lodge where the circumcisions took place is burned and their boyish past symbolically goes up in smoke.

Tribal Ritual in southern Zimbabwe
A recent New York Times article describes the critical importance of male circumcision in the prevention of H.I.V. in men. Since 2007, the practice has been recommended by international health authorities who say it reduces the risk of infection by sixty percent. The Times describes the campaign in South Africa where 600,000 men have had the procedure. While that sounds like a lot of men, it represents only 3 percent of the male population and a small step in the direction of H.I.V. prevention. The goal described in the Times article is to circumcise 20 million men in 14 African countries by 2015.

Dr. Robert Bailey, an epidemiologist at the University of Illinois, claims the most progress is being made in Kenya, where some 330,000 men have had the procedure. "We're hacking away at it every month," Dr. Baily is quoted as saying. "Those foreskins are flying."
In spite of the pain and discomfort of ritual circumcision, it appears it is indeed very important for millions of men. In addition to being a component of the ancient and sacred work of making men out of boys, "flying foreskins" are saving lives.



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

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

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

October 5, 2011

MDI - Success for Men!

For our young males to survive on their journey toward manhood, much less be there best, they will need good men to support them. That's easy. For that reason, I like to occasionally like to profile organizations that are building good men. MDI is one of those organizations. It's open to any adult man who seeks to live a purposeful, passionate life, and seeks to achieve new levels of personal success. It is a group committed to helping men dream big, become successful, and to become leaders in their communities. As they say, Our Mission is to cause greatness by mentoring men to live with excellence and, as mature masculine leaders, create successful families, careers and communities. To me, that is a call to become the kind of man our young males can look up to.

The Men's Hut
In so many ways, this group reminds me of the ancient men's hut. The men's hut was sacred male territory. It was the place where men gathered, and I can only imagine schmoozed, bragged about the hunt, farted without reserve, talked about women, learned guy skills, complained about the young males, found support, and shared their fears about the challenges facing them in their world. MDI is somewhat like that. They say, As an organization we believe that true wisdom comes not from a single source but from the diverse viewpoints of our community of men. Sounds tribal, interdependent, and collaborative to me.

The men of MDI gather in teams consisting of 5 to 25 men per team and meet regularly in men’s homes, places of business or at public meeting rooms. Regionally, the teams are aggregated into Divisions that can be as many as 200 men. Those meetings make for one very large men's hut and the gathered masculinity is powerful force for supporting men in general and for making a huge difference in community life.
This year MDI is hosting it's 3rd annual international convention in Las Vegas, at the Rio Hotel and Casino, on October 21-23rd. It's a meeting where a man can learn how to:
  • overcome obstacles
  • discover and serve your higher purpose
  • understand who you truly are, at this moment in time
  • positively embrace fear and failure
  • mentor young men
  • create, maintain and escalate successful long term relationships
I understand you also will have the opportunity to play a little golf, go rock hiking or climbing, play some poker, visit the roof-top cigar lounge, and meet some very good men. If you're interested, go to the convention website. If you want to know more about MDI, send them an email and someone will get right back to you.

If you know of an organization you feel is building good men, send me the information and I'll help spread the word. The world needs good men, and I know the boys are waiting.


LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

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

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

September 29, 2011

A Critical Piece of the Manhood Puzzle

Mark Moore was my hero. He was a regular old-school fireman, back before the spectacular heroism of 9-11. So it wasn't the fact of his profession that elevated him in my eyes. No, it was simply that he was the only man in my nine-year-old world who understood me. He was my next door neighbor. He lived close enough to hear my father's drunken rages and my mother's crying. He saw the car parked on grass in the front yard where my dad had left it the night before. He observed the sad lack of maintenance on our house, and he witnessed the many times I went running from the house in tears. Mark knew the horror of my world and still, for his own reasons, he picked me and gave me the only positive adult male attention I knew in those days.

Mark taught me to fish. I remember the awe I felt the first time he showed me his tackle box. It was the most mysterious collection of tools for getting the meat I had ever seen. The lures were colorful, each with a name and a special use. And dam that box was fragrant. I didn't learn until much later the otherworldly smell was a collection of thirty years' worth of mixed beer and dried fish guts.

Mark found the time to do things with me and sometimes a couple of my boy-pack buddies. We would visit him and the other men at the firehouse and got to slide down the brass pole from the second floor dorm. We'd build things together too. I can still smell the sawdust from the footstool we constructed in his garage workshop one hot summer. Then there was the time he took us all up to the top of the Highland Water Tower on the one day of the year it was open. The tower was the highest point in our town at the time and it offered an expansive vista. One at a time, he lifted each of us up to peer over the safety rail and then he pointed out the important places in our neighborhood. He said, “There’s your house, and there’s the movie theater. Over there is where you go to school, and way out there is the fairgrounds.” In a way, Mark was doing for me what men have done with boys for centuries, seeing their gifts, choosing to be engaged, and lifting them up and showing them the important parts of the masculine landscape. My dad wasn't really present for me, I had Superman on television back in those days, but Mark was my real superhero. I was a horribly lost little boy who became a lost teen, and it was Mark who saved my life.

The first of two sad truths about manhood today is too many young males are going lost, being imprisoned, and dying on their journey to manhood because good men like Mark are not showing up for them. All parents, but especially single moms and dads, struggle mightily to raise boys. The flood of testosterone in a teenaged male's body generates feelings of enormous physical power and potential. The young dudes then proceed to push and shove, be defiant, constantly test limits, and generally do foolish things because of the incomplete wiring of their young brains. It's not a matter of choice, adolescent males are simply compelled and propelled by their biology. Without the containment and direction a tribe of older males naturally provide, we have lost young males and Golding’s Lord of the Flies everywhere. It's why I believe we don't have a young male violence problem in the world today, but an epidemic of under-male-nourished young males.
I believe we don't have a young male violence problem in the world today,
but an epidemic of under-male-nourished young males.

The other sad truth about manhood is about lost men. Men and manhood have taken it in the chops from bad wars, feminism, and brutal economic times. Manhood is constantly under assault in today's media. A recent article in my hometown newspaper titled, Men Behaving Sadly, points out this coming season of TV shows feature, “. . . more than a half a dozen male characters questioning their masculinity and their place in a ‘woman’s world.’” Men's institutions have been invaded, and even men's natural tendencies have come under incitement. Collectively, these and other forces have had a devastating impact on male esteem. The result is lost and confused men, collectively and globally, looking for a vision of manhood that will help men feel good about themselves and reshape the important parts of the masculine landscape.


Thankfully, the discussion about lost men and an upside vision of manhood is well under way. This Man-Making Blog post is part of a special series this month on The End of Gender by bloggers from Role/RebootGood Men ProjectThe Huffington PostSalonHyperVocalMs. MagazineYourTangoPsychology TodayPrincess Free Zone, and The Next Great Generation.

While the pieces of the manhood puzzle will take some time to come together, I can clearly name one necessary and critical piece right now. It's the one ancient masculine competency hardwired into all men and what Mark Moore had in spades. Mark somehow found the willingness to step out from behind his fears and reach out to the next generation of boys. He offered his gloriously imperfect self as a guide to young boys on their journey toward manhood.

Making men out of adolescent males is men's work. It's necessary and life-saving for the boys, it supports families, and it reduces the chaos and violence in our communities. The big secret is until men put this piece in place, men are not whole. Conversely, when men claim that core piece of the manhood puzzle, the male hierarchy is restored, boys see an achievable path to manhood, there is peace in the village, and men inhabit their right place in the order of things.
"It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men."
Fredrick Douglass


LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

TWEET: Sent this post along to your Twitter friends!

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

September 20, 2011

Beautiful (and Confusing) Teen Brains


In his recent article in the October 2011 issue of National Geographic magazine, David Dobbs says, through brain imaging available today, we can now get a literal picture of how brains work. We can actually watch the gradual development of the human brain from 12 years old until the mid-twenties when adult functioning begins to emerge. He offers us a wonderful and mostly understandable description of how the human brain increases in complexity with age. How, in time, that evolution in brain wiring results in what we might call maturity and the ability to better sort, balance and prioritize all the competing agendas, internal drives, rules, peer pressure, and stimuli a teen is faced with every day, and make reasoned choices. These are exactly the kind of choices that seem to escape so many of today’s teens.

I love how Dobbs lays out what is at the heart of much adult frustration with teenagers. He says, “These studies help explain why teens behave with such vexing inconsistency: beguiling at breakfast, disgusting at dinner; masterful on Monday, sleepwalking on Saturday.” It also explains why teens persist in doing what adults consider foolish things!

The article gives a very detailed description of why teens are so drawn to experiences of risk, novelty, and excitement, and why they are so drawn to value the company of their peers above that of parents or other adults. It is also one of the few descriptions that offers upside explanations as to why natural selection hasn't resulted in the elimination of the foolishness of adolescents.

We know that teens love excitement. Young humans seek risk more aggressively as teens than at any other age. Most adult males I know have a catalog of stupid things they did as teens and sad tales of the consequences. There are always narrow escapes, bizarre escapades, and foolish adventures that seem funny in retrospect but many of which might have resulted in death. Among the most frightening is the statistic that one in three teen deaths is from car crashes, many involving alcohol. This sad reality is clearly reflected in the automobile insurance rates charged for adolescent males wanting to drive. Testosterone, the love of a thrill and risk taking don’t mix well with easy access to alcohol and cars.
. . . virtually all the world's cultures recognize adolescence
as a distinct period in which adolescents
prefer novelty, excitement, and peers.
In so many ways, our teens, with their poorly wired brains, hunger for sensation, risk, novelty, and excitement, need our compassion, not our shaming expressions of frustration. They need our understanding, and then, most importantly, they need guidance, limits setting, role modeling . . . they need caring adults around to play the role of their underdeveloped frontal cortex. They need a caring adult in their lives to consistently set the limits they are not able to yet grasp or form for themselves. As David Dobbs puts it, “Studies show that when parents engage and guide their teens with a light but steady hand, staying connected but allowing independence, their kids generally do much better in life.”

At this link, you can hear a recent National Public Radio program on this topic. It included David Dobbs, and two brain researchers: BJ Casey, a Professor and Director of the Sackler Institute at Weill Medical College of Cornell University, and National Institute of Mental Health neuroscientist, Dr. Jay Giedd.

In the video clip below, Dr. Giedd describes how current technologies, including social media, are impacting the brains of today’s teens. He calls teenagers today, digital natives, kids who have never know a time without technology. He believes that for all of the information available to them today, one of the most powerful ways to influence them is by solid and positive adult role modeling.


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


LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!
SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

September 13, 2011

The Lakes Area Guys Network - LAGN


The Lakes Area Guys Network (LAGN) was born in August of 2009 when I went to Brainerd, MN to discuss a group mentoring model for men and young males. I was part of a conversation with a gathering of community and social service agency representatives at the town library. Together they expressed concern for the problems many young males were creating in their town. It was the hope that a coordinated effort could be created to support these young men.

Their target population was middle school (grades 5-8) with an emphasis on those from single parent families. The idea was that boys would take part in activities with good men from the community and the fun and positive attention would be good for all the males involved. This experimental program would easily be populated with boys through referrals from schools, social service agencies and even law enforcement.

Some time prior to the community meeting, the Kinship Partners mentoring program in Brainerd had started an experiment of its own. A group of outdoorsman who came together through bible study at a local church decided they wanted to give back to their community. A couple of the men from the church were already mentors in the Kinship Partners program and a partnership was formed. With Kinship doing the background screening of volunteers, their program was launched. Soon the men of the church and boys from their faith community were going on monthly outdoor adventures. That initiative didn't last, however, and about the time it was winding down, my presentation at the library was held. Following that meeting, a new community venture was formed. LAGN's first activities were held in January of 2010.

Fishermen and Boys
Today, the LAGN has become an official group mentoring project of Kinship Partners. There is a core group of six men who are responsible for the logistics of the 2-3 activities a month for young males and men from the Brainerd Lakes area. Events are usually outdoors (all seasons) and involve fun and physical activities. Examples include kickball, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, broomball, snow tubing, disc golf, football, whiffleball, and fishing - their most popular offering in a land of lakes.

LAGN is still working on recruiting men to share their interests and skills, and is always looking for sponsors and financial contributors. But they are cooking along and making a difference in the lives of boys, men, and their community.

If you have an interest in a LAGN like program for your community, send me a message and let's talk about how to start it!

For information about LAGN, contact David Downing, the Executive Director of Kinship Partners at (218) 454-8013 or email him at: mail@kinshippartners.org



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

September 3, 2011

Heroes, Sheroes, and Gospel for Teens

This post is about what I call Heroes and Sheroes. People I hold in high esteem because of the work they do and the stand they have taken for kids. I hope their stories are inspirational and motivational for you.

The first is Mike Patrick, a man I'm so proud to call my friend and easily one of my biggest heroes. Exactly 40 years ago on September 3rd, as Mike says, he was sentenced to the electric chair. Not the kind you find in prison, but a motorized wheelchair. At a high school football game on that evening of September 3, 1971, Mike was tackled and in the process his neck was broken. In that instant, he became a sixteen year old quadriplegic, an athlete unable to walk, and a student unable to even turn the pages of a book.

Mike's very long recovery included surgeries, repeated hospitalizations, and a run in with depression. When he was able, Mike went back to school, got a teaching degree, and set out to change the lives of as many kids on the planet as possible. He rolled into a 26 year career as a professional speaker, teaching young people all across the US to really consider their true potential. His amazing Think About It program helps kids (and adults) overcome obstacles, invites them to creatively solve problems, and to always push through any barriers to being their best. As Mike likes to point out, "The problem is not the issue, the issue is how you deal with the problem." I encourage you to visit Mike's website, and learn more about this remarkable man. I guarantee it will be a day brightener.

It was Mike Patrick who pointed me to the work of  Vy Higgenson, a true Sheroe. Vy is lifting up the young people of Harlem, New York through her Gospel for Teens program. She is a solid example of how someone can take a personal passion and shape it into a force for changing the lives of countless young people.

Just below you'll find video clips of two segments from the TV Show, 60 Minutes, profiling Vy and her Gospel for Teens program. Watching, you'll quickly understand why Vy is one of my sheroes. Like Mike Patrick, her story is another eye-dampening, day brightener.

It's easy to be in awe of these people, but be careful not to put them on a pedestal. They both started with limited resources and a powerful passion for what they loved doing. As you watch, consider the fact that you, too, have this same capacity in you. What would Mike or Vy have to say to you about going for it?
Segment One:
If the video for segment ONE doesn't show up, use this link.

Segment Two:
If the video for segment TWO doesn't show up, use this link.


LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

August 24, 2011

The Demise of Guys (and a Naked Jennifer Lopez?)

In the TED video below, Psychologist Philip Zimbardo asks, "Why are boys struggling?" Clearly, our young males are struggling on a number of scales mentioned by Mr. Zimbardo. However, I can't bring myself to agree with his diagnosis of the problem. Mr. Zimbardo says it's due to fear of intimacy, social shyness, and being unable to use, "the language of face contact." His term for this issue is, "Social Intensity Syndrome." Apparently it explains why guys prefer male bonding over "female mating." Using a logic I couldn't quite follow, according to Philip, Social Intensity Syndrome somehow explains why guys prefer to be with their buddies watching football on Superbowl Sunday than watching a naked Jennifer Lopez in a film. You'll have to listen to the clip below to see if you can understand that train of thought.

He does us all a service, however, in being another voice raising the issue of too much time spent by adolescent males in the two-dimensional world of the internet. He quotes data from Jane McGonigal, which claims, by age 21, boys have spent 10,000 hours playing internet games, with two-thirds of that time being in isolation. He also quotes Cindy Gallop, who believes as a result of adolescent boys watching 50+ porn clips a week, we are creating men who don't know the difference between making love and doing porn.

I don't agree boy shyness, their comfort being in a male pack, and love of watching any competition in which objects are flying through space is a new "syndrome." I also don't think young males having a vivid sexual fantasy life is in any way new or abnormal. In fact, I think those tendencies are all a natural and direct result of having a male brain and eons of accumulated masculine experience. The danger I do agree with is how the internet can put a powerful magnifying glass on those natural tendencies and ramp up their intensity for better and worse.

I do like that, in this TED video and many other places, there is a larger discussion taking place about how young male brains are being shaped in powerful and unhealthy ways by seductive and targeted digital media, designed to play on normal adolescent drives. Discussions about the issues of destructive media influences or technology-addicted kids need to happen. Those in the business of man-making for young guys, including parents, relatives, and men who want to show up as positive role models, all need to be able to discuss and offer reasonable guidelines to the magnetic draw of the digital universe. Actually being great role models, when it comes to technology use, is a great first step.

A quick internet search on media addiction and boys will turn up countless resources to help us all increase our techno-literacy in relation to our boys. I'll be reviewing some of the resources on this topic in future posts, but give this 5 minute clip by Mr. Zimbardo a listen and see what comes up for you.



If the clip isn't visible use this link.


LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

ADD TO YOUR SITE: It's easy to have the Man-Making Blog posts appear on your organization's website. Send me a quick message and I'll tell you what it takes to get set up. To see an example of how it might look on your site, check out the blog page on the Man-Making website.

August 17, 2011

A Boy's Rage In A Bottle

My name is Asia an I am a youth at (a youth center). I a 17 year old boy an I have lost a lot of people. I am reading your book on grief and loss. It is a good book. But I need help on other things to.

My mom is strung out on every drug you can think of. When I was 2 my mom sold me to a drug deler to pay them off for a deal. They put me in a floded basment and beat me. I spnt my life in the streets gangin and fightn. I shoot people, robed people shoot up peoples house n all that stuff. I wach my cousin get shoot in the face 7 times and that made me mad so I want to get even wit people and hut them. I hated the world. I hated everyone I seen. I got in lots of fights.

My grandad passd away and I had no one to go to but the streets. Every place the court sent me to I hurt people. Then I got lock up. It is hard, hurts I have alot lockd up inside me an I have been taking all this out on others all my life.

My life sucks. I never talk to no one. You are the only one I told this to. I think about killing my self all the time. Can you help me.

Asia
I hurt but never cry
I love but never loved
And still I stand



Dear Asia,

Thanks for writing me and sharing your story (and powerful drawing). I’m glad to hear you’re reading my book on grief and loss and I thank you for the compliment. I’m glad you like the book, I hope you find it helpful. It was written for young kids like you.

It makes me very sad and angry at the world that you, or any young dude, should be put through what you’ve experienced. My heart goes out to you. It’s hard for me, someone who knows a lot about the topic of grief and loss, to really understand how deep and crushing your sadness must be . . . . . and how strong a man you must be to deal with it all. It must be very difficult to hold all that pain inside you, and I can imagine you want to end it all sometimes.

From my experience, I do know that letting out that sadness, pain, and anger, in non-destructive ways, is where you have to start. I don’t know how you can do that, but keeping all that inside is like a poison. It  will make you crazy and keep you violent if you don’t. I’ve written to other guys in jail and I know that looking tough, being strong, and being on guard is necessary for survival. On the other hand, letting out the big feelings in the bottle you drew means being vulnerable, trusting someone, even letting down your guard. Eventually, doing that will make you a stronger man, but I don’t know how to tell you to do that where you are.

I do know that your true power as a man, your gifts, and so much that is awesome about you lies buried under all that hurt and sadness. Until that burden lifts, we won’t get to see the real “you.”

You are smart enough to read a book on the topic, and have enough faith to write to a guy you don’t know and share a little of your story. Those are good signs . . . really good signs. I’m proud of you for taking that risk. It gives me hope for you cuz you’re moving in the right direction. I hope you keep on taking those risks.

You asked me if I can help you. My response is that I can support you, but only you can help yourself. It will take real courage to face all that pain you have inside, but that’s my wish for you. You are worth it man. Take the risk. I’m on your side and I'm here for you.

Earl Hipp

Asia is out in the world now, living in Detroit, trying to be a good dad, struggling, but standing strong.



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.  

ADD TO YOUR SITE: It's easy to have the Man-Making Blog posts appear on your organization's website. Send me a quick message and I'll tell you what it takes to get set up. To see an example of how it might look on your site, check out the blog page on the Man-Making website.

August 9, 2011

Walters Wacky (Mentoring) Adventure

Gary Walters is one of my heroes. I love when people take action on their values, and this man happens to very much believe in having good adults mentor young people. So much so that he is riding a bike across the US to raise money for his favorite mentoring organization, Kinship Partners of Brainerd Minnesota.

In this photo Gary is shown with his son Jackson and daughter Jessica who will be joining their dad on this considerable challenge. The ride has an unusual route in that the family departed Brainerd, MN on July 15 and biked to the East coast. From there they will fly to Seattle, WA on the West coast and ride back to Minnesota, arriving on or about Sept. 6. That is a total of 3287 road miles with plenty of challenges along the way. By the time this post is published they will be just about in Seattle and ready to start the West to East leg.

For the record, this is the NINTH YEAR in a row that Gary has put his belief in mentoring and giving back to the community into action via a physical test of endurance. To learn more about these feats, and possibly make a donation to support Gary's fundraising efforts, go to his donation page. In addition to those contributions, all donations submitted through September 6th using the "Donate" button on the Man-Making Blog homepage will be forwarded to Gary at the conclusion of his ride.

You can follow the family's adventures and "Like" them on their Facebook page at this link. I'm sure they would appreciate a message of encouragement.

For his solid and unwavering commitment to mentoring, Gary is included in the Man-Making Hall of Heroes. If you know of another Man-Making hero who deserves some praise, please send along your nominations . . . or better yet, become one!


LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

ADD TO YOUR SITE: It's easy to have the Man-Making Blog posts appear on your organization's website. Send me a quick message and I'll tell you what it takes to get set up. To see an example of how it might look on your site, check out the blog page on the Man-Making website.

July 30, 2011

YMAW, The Mentoring Bone,
and Voyageur Manhood

For over twenty-one years Brad Leslie has been taking men and young guys, ages 12-17, off to a gorgeous slice of the Canadian wilderness near Vancouver for a rite of passage weekend. This year 50 men greeted 58 teenage males for another powerful and transformational experience. It's called the Young Men's Adventure Weekend.

In this podcast, I talk with Brad about this year's weekend, how it was organized, and what it's like for the young guys and the men involved. You'll learn about topics such as the "mentoring bone," Voyageurs and Manhood, going into the "basement" of a man's life, and how men welcome the young males into men's world.


Click the arrow to start play (may take a bit to load)

If the player isn't visible, click on this direct link.

This interview with Brad, along with the video clip below, begin to paint a beautiful picture of what very good men can create when they decide to show up for future men in their communities.
To see more pictures of the goings on during the weekend, go to this photo album.To get additional information about the Young Men's Adventure Weekend visit the YMAW website at, ymaw.com. You can also call Brad Leslie at: 800-663-2723, or send him an email at bradleslie@telus.net

Here is a video clip of the young males arriving at men's world!

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



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

ADD BLOG POSTS TO YOUR WEBSITE: It's easy to have the Man-Making Blog posts appear on your organization's website. Send me a quick message and I'll tell you what it takes to get set up. To see an example of how it might look on your site, check out the blog page on the Man-Making website.

July 26, 2011

Teaching Young Guys How to Dress

Tim Wernette is a regular contributor to the Man-Making Blog. He sent along this video clip saying, "I've noticed that boys/young men often don't know the proper method for dressing/undressing, and thought you might enjoy this video."

I'll say more on the other side of the clip...



Use this link if the clip doesn't appear.

OK, it's not really about dressing, or undressing, although that topic deserves its own post. Tim sent it along as a JOKE . . . kind of!

If you look closely, beyond the "humor," there are a lot of other issues raised by the clip. Tim Wernette, is a Gender Equity Educational Specialist with the University of Arizona. He speaks to high school audiences about the destructive aspects of gender stereotypes overlaid on young boys and girls. Tim suggested that behind what passes for humor in the clip is actually a story about the dangerous lengths to which men and young males go to test themselves, to self-initiate, to demonstrate their bravery and skills. Perhaps to live up to the super-male stereotype so common in sports, music, and the media these days.
Boys can easily be victimized by their own biology.
Of course, there is the very real matter of large and multiple surges of testosterone in an adolescent male's body every day. Testosterone has been called the aggression chemical. It's the drug that makes it hard for boys to sit still in classrooms, be defiant around authority figures, be competitive, and sometimes do foolish and dangerous things. Boys can easily be victimized by their own biology.

Yes, boys will be boys. But with good men in their lives to help manage and direct that awesome young male energy, young guys are more inclined to make good choices when it comes to testing their power and proving themselves. Without those good men, young males are left with making up "manhood" on their own. Sadly, they are being guided by the tragic models of manhood provided by film, TV, and too many not-so-good men we read about every day in the papers.

Thanks Tim! Keep up the good work.

By the way, I love guest contributors!



LIKE: If you enjoy this blog, please click the "Like" button below to support the Man-Making Facebook page!

SUBSCRIBE: If you're not yet a subscriber to the Man-Making Blog, and you'd like to receive these posts by email 3-4 times a month, go to this link for a free subscription.

ADD TO YOUR SITE: It's easy to have the Man-Making Blog posts appear on your organization's website. Send me a quick message and I'll tell you what it takes to get set up. To see an example of how it might look on your site, check out the blog page on the Man-Making website.