January 31, 2011

RESULTS: Man-Making Blog Annual Survey

Thanks to you all for your responses to the Man-Making Blog Annual Reader Survey. It is always helpful to get specific feedback from the people I want to serve. If you didn't get a chance to give me your ideas and opinions, the survey form will be open until mid-Feb., so let me know what you're thinking at this link.

Here is a general summary of what you told me:

As to the frequency of posting, at the current 3-5 posts per month, 87% of you said it was just right. A few wanted more (6) and a few (6) wanted less, so I'll continue post at the same rate.

To the question about, What type of content is most interesting/helpful?, almost half of the respondents said they wanted to read more about Men's Stories about Man-Making. While I can do a better job of forming the question next time, the response to the question can be taken at least two ways. First, it could mean you want to hear more about the men that showed up for you when you were a kid, the men who were your man-makers? A second possibility is that you want to know about the experiences of men who are currently showing up as a man-maker in the lives of young males. Both of those will make for good content. Please let me know if you are willing to share your story in either of those categories!

I loved the fact that close behind men's man-making stories came an interest in Activities for Men and Boys (48%), and "What You Can Do" to Support Boys (39%). It says to me a fairly high percentage of you are interested in learning how to take action, that you're interested in doing something with young males. That is pretty wonderful and I'll discuss that in future posts.

I let you interpret the rest of the requested content statistics, but know they will shape my posts going forward. Again, if you want to send along something in any of these areas, I love guest bloggers! You can even stay anonymous if you like.

Men's Stories about Man-Making - 52%
Activities for Men and Boys - 48%
"What You Can Do" to Support Boys - 39%
Boy Development - 39%
Man-Making Related Research - 35%
Men's Development - 35%
Personal Rites of Passage Examples - 32%
How to do Rites of Passage for Boys - 32%
Guy Humor - 29%
Related Film and Book Reviews - 23%
Single Parenting of Boys - 23%
Inspirational Content - 23%
Info. on Organizations Initiating Boys - 13%

What's ONE thing I can do to make the blog better for you?
I got a lot of positive strokes in this category, mostly saying I should just keep on doing what I've been doing. But Thanks. Some wanted more posts and some less. A couple of you asked for more links to resources. A number of you wanted to hear from young males with mentors and man-makers in their lives. They wanted the boys perspective on what impacts them and what they are looking for from men? One suggested topic was preparing boys for fatherhood, another was addiction and young males. One response just said, Surprise me more!

I also asked, Is there a resource you know of that should appear in the blog? The short list of your responses to this questions included: the Pathways Foundation in Australia; the Student Conservation Association affiliated with the Sierra Club; and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has a free DVD/documentary on bullying. Books for review included Alison Armstrong's Keys to the Kingdom, describing her take on male stages of the male stages of development: Page, Knight, Prince, King, and Elder. The book Wild at Heart by John Eldredge was suggested by two of  you (any book reviewers out there?). There was a lead to Daniel Beaty's inspirational YouTube videos, and requests for descriptions of organizations working with men and boys. All this has been captured for future blog posts.

Then there is the question: Why do you stay subscribed to this blog? Just a short sample of what you said includes:
  • I'm always interested in what's happening for boys and how seriously people are taking the need to help boys on the road to manhood.
     
  • Great information, it's meaningful to my volunteer work with boys and men.
     
  • We can always learn more.
     
  • I have a genuine interest in men's health, advocacy and development in a society which ignores and/or denigrates them.
     
  • I need this inspiration to keep me involved with the boys in my neighborhood.
     
  • Since I made the connection with some of my son's friends, this blog reminds me to continue to interact with them.

Your feedback, suggestions, challenges, jokes, book reviews, and your stories about men and boys on their journey to man hood are always welcome. You can use the comments feature at the end of any post, or send something to me using this form.

Mostly, THANKS for your support.

Earl



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January 20, 2011

What Grandpa Knew - Learning from the Elders


On Public Radio this morning, I heard an interview with Erin Bried, the author of the new book, How to Build a Fire: And Other Handy Things Your Grandfather Knew. This is the companion to the author's previous book, How to Sew a Button, a book filled with ideas and teaching from wise grandmas. Here is the link to the Public Radio author interview.

How to Build a Fire, is filled with practical information about skills grandpa learned in the era of post-depression and World War II America. Not all the grandfatherly advice is relevant to today's young guys, but it is a "collection of our grandfathers’ hard-earned wisdom," and some of it is perennial. The topics include skills such as how to:
  • buck up and be brave in the face of adversity
  • play hard and break in a baseball mitt
  • bait a hook and catch a big fish
  • look dapper and tie a perfect tie
  • get a raise and earn more
  • write a love letter and kindle romance
  • change a flat tire and save the day
  • stand up and give a sparkling toast
  • play the harmonica and make your own music
While there are other books that contain these lessons, and certainly a motivated young dude has it all at his fingertips with any search engine, I love the notion of the written transmission of knowledge from grandpa. Boys have learned at the feet of the male elders for centuries, and that's the feeling I get from this book.

Do you have a story of something your grandfather or other elder in your life taught you? Send it to me or add it to the comments of this post.

Do you have a skill you might share with some of the young dudes in your world? At almost any age, you are and elder to a boy somewhere!



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January 14, 2011

Why Men Don't Show Up For Boys

In the research for the Man-Making book, just one of the many reasons men offered as a barrier to involvement with young males was, "people will talk." There was a deep and, in today's world, common fear that if they showed any interest in young guys, they would instantly be labeled a predator. I can't imagine a more tragic situation where there are literally millions of boys who benefit by being part of a male tribe and being connected to good men, and yet those very men are staying away because of, "What people will say."

In the January 13th, 2011 Wall Street Journal, Lenore Skenazy wrote an article titled, Eek! A Male!. The article describes how deep the fear of men goes regarding their presence around children. The author says, ". . . these days, almost any man who has anything to do with a child can find himself suspected of being a creep. I call it "Worst-First" thinking: Gripped by pedophile panic, we jump to the very worst, even least likely, conclusion first. Then we congratulate ourselves for being so vigilant."

As I write this I am living in Tucson, AZ for the winter. As everyone knows, the Tucson community has just experienced a horrific tragedy perpetrated by yet another very lost and disoriented young male shooter. It was horribly irrational, raw, and in so many ways, unforgivable. I think of it as another "World Trade Center" kind of wake up call that shattered more of our innocence and left us, as a country, feeling wounded and vulnerable. While the story about this young male is still being revealed, from where I sit I can't help but wonder what his life and world view might have been like if a good man had taken him under a protective and caring wing. What if good and caring men had stepped up when this shooter was giving off the early signals of being lost and alone? It's too late now for this young man, but there will be more.

I recommend this WSJ article to you. I invite you to consider the degree to which you carry these judgments and fears about men being involved with boys. If you're a man, look in to your heart to see if the fear of being judged negatively by others is alive in you and keeping you from making a difference in a young man's life. Maybe THE difference. Maybe a life-saving, life-giving difference. If you have been touched by what happened in Tucson, perhaps can stepping up for a boy in your community can be a part of your/our healing process?

What do you think? Use the comment section of this blog post or use this contact form to share your truth.



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January 9, 2011

January is National Mentoring Month

In December, President Barack Obama issued a proclamation designating January as National Mentoring Month.

I loved the language the President chose when he said, Across our nation, mentors steer our youth through challenging times and support their journey into adulthood. During National Mentoring Month, we honor these important individuals who unlock the potential and nurture the talent of our country, and we encourage more Americans to reach out and mentor young people in their community.

January 2011, marks the 10th anniversary of National Mentoring Month. This initiative is being driven by the Harvard Mentoring Project of the Harvard School of Public Health, MENTOR, and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Any of these organizations will have more information for you about National Mentoring Month, and how you might get involved.

The current estimate is somewhere around 15 million young people who, at this moment, are in need of a caring adult mentor in their lives. The vast majority of them are young males. The thought of men, across the country, stepping up to "unlock the potential" and to "nurture the talent" of boys, gives me hope for the future.

How about you?

To search for a mentoring opportunity in your zip code, go to the Serve.gov website and enter your location. It may just result in two males having their potential unlocked and talent nurtured!



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January 4, 2011

"Boys Become Men" A Frederick Marx Film

My friend and brother in mission is Frederick Marx from Warrior Films. He's an award winning filmmaker of some 30+ years, most known for the Academy Award nominated film, Hoop Dreams. His most recent film is Journey from Zanskar. It features Richard Gere and even the Dalai Lama in a film about the destruction of the thousands of years old Tibetan Buddhist culture. It opens on January 19th in three theaters in Paris. But that is not the film this post is about.

With Zanskar in the can, Frederick is turning his attention and cinematic gifts to the subject of rites of passage for young males in the U.S. In a film he's titled, Boys Become Men, he intends to spotlight some of the best initiatory practices for boys around the U.S. He says he will demonstrate the effectiveness of these Rites of Passage experiences by following the real-life stories of a number of young men (and their families) whose lives have been touched by this work.

In the video clip below, you can get a taste of what this film will be and feel like. Given Frederick's experience and skills, I'm sure this film will seriously shake up the man-making world and move more people into service to boys (and men).

If you want to be a part of bringing this film to reality, you can support Frederick by making a donation to his Kickstarter fundraising campaign. A small donation will get you connected to the film-making process, notices of filming, and other events. A larger donation will get you a copy of the final product and even an invite to a film premiere.

I love the quote by Theodore Roosevelt in his book The Strenuous Life. He said, ". . . none of us can do everything, but all of us can do something . . ." With that in mind, you may want to consider helping Frederick get this film produced.





If the clip doesn't show up, you can see it at this link on YouTube.


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