September 11, 2020

The Other Men

In training men to be mentors, we often ask, "Who were the men, other than your father, who had impact on your life as a young man? While a loving and engaged father is the most powerful man-making force on the planet, even that good dad can't give his son everything his son needs as he moves towards manhood. Then there are all those young men who don't have that engaged, available father, or any father at all in their lives. In those cases, the "other men" become critically important, sometimes lifesaving.

When the stories about other men are told, we often hear rich stories of good men who stepped up, sometimes for literal moments, hours, or as lifetime allies. Men who were neighbors, coaches, relatives, from their faith community, show up and without too much effort, make important differences in a life. Sometimes there are tears in the telling of the stories.

We invite the men to remember these guys in their lives because they too as intentional mentors are stepping into that "other man" role. Because men new to mentoring are always a little unsure, we like to remind them that the other men who showed up for them didn't have any mentor training. We remind them that who they are, right now is sufficient. That they in fact are already in the man-making business because whether they are intentional or not, they are being watched by the adolescent males in their world . . . they are, for better and worse, the book on manhood for the young men around them. It has been that way for thousands of years, and still today, boys and men are hardwired for this way of being together.

What follows is a story from a dear Tucson friend of mine, Lee. In his story about the other men, he describes exactly how these forms of natural mentoring work:



There were men in my father’s circle who taught me much just by being who they were:

Sid B., with posture as straight as his words, looked as if he had taken some punches but had won most of his fights. He always took the time to acknowledge me, a kid, as someone real.

Joe L., who stood by my dad when my mother died. He had lost his daughter in a horrible manner, so knew the pain of loss. He was comfortable showing concern in loyal silence. Even the lines in his face knew the value of presence.

But most of all there was Pat M. Learning his practical, slow approach to problem solving served me well in life. He even drove slowly. Okay, the speed limit, but that made me restless back then. Yet, he was quick to tell a story, to buy or accept a beer, preferably Old Style.

I remember Pat's big Irish alcohol-reddened nose, his sparkling leprechaun eyes, and his quiet deliberate movements. His long and heavy head, at least two sizes too large for his body — was always tilted one way or the other, always ready to smile, or walk away.


He was a tile setter for my father’s company, Acorn Tile. He was a craftsman from an earlier age, an era that was disappearing even as I was first being exposed to it. Post World War II expansion and development demanded fast repetitive work, not craft. At some point, Pat began to drive the company truck, delivering and picking up supplies, and keeping an eye on the jobs in progress. I often rode with him. He took the back roads, not the interstates, his right hand on the stick shift, left foot riding the clutch, smoking Parliaments. It wasn’t my place to say anything. 

On one trip, he unexpectedly stopped the truck
and said, “You drive.”

He wore flannel shirts, carried a dull iron green lunchbox and thermos, was comfortable on bar stools or on an overturned bucket talking about hunting, fishing, ballgames, and cooking with onions. He had seven daughters. I might have been like a son to him. On one trip, he unexpectedly stopped the truck and said, “You drive.” I was sixteen with a license but had never driven a manual transmission nor a truck. There was no place for no. I eventually managed to get it in gear and moving while Pat drank his coffee unconcerned. He would only give me a look if my jerky shifting caused him to spill. He didn’t just let me drive just because I was the boss’s son, he just decided to give me a taste of responsibility. He also showed me how to think about work before doing it and taught me that conversation was the real centerpiece of each day. He didn’t trust a man who complained too much or drank too little.

Pat never forgot the things I did, right or wrong. An elevator breaking down on a job site because I had overloaded it. The broken window on the truck that I resisted revealing the truth about for years. Me bringing the wrong materials for a job. He always seemed to know what I was struggling with and what my accomplishments were. He even told stories about me, bringing me into a world of men I would not have known otherwise.

Over many years, I watched Pat gradually get older, less able, and saw the effects of too much drinking on him. Eventually I left the business and headed to Tucson. Before Pat died, I wrote him a letter of appreciation thanking him for all the gifts he'd given me. I'm told he carried that letter with him and one day he read to my father. I remember the day my dad called to tell me about Pat's passing. He told me about how much my letter had meant to Pat and we both got a little teary talking about the important role he had played in both our lives.



So, who were the "other men" in your life? 

If you could speak to one of those men today,
what would you say? 


How can you honor the impact these "other men" 
had on the man you are today?




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 2005-2020 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
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May 29, 2020

Boys, Mentoring and Rites of Passage
A Podcast Interview with Earl Hipp

My friend and brother in mission is Tony Rezac. He's doing great work for mankind from his web portal Basecamp for Men

As part of his Basecamp for Men outreach, he has a regular podcast, currently showcasing upwards of 38 conversations with men about aspects of their lives. I had the complete pleasure of being Tony's guest on a recent podcast where we both shared our ideas and experiences on the themes of manhood, rites of passage, and my personal passion, helping men understand why it's important to show up to mentor boys and young men. 

In that conversation Tony and I discussed the current epidemic of under-male-nourished boys in the country, some of the common and understandable reasons men don't mentor our young males, and the hunger young men have for those connections. We also discussed a force I call "masculine gravity," and how any man, even those who are uncertain of their value to boys, can take some very low-risk steps into man-making action. 

...some of the common and understandable reasons
men don't mentor our young males,
. . . and how any man . . .
can take some very low-risk steps into man-making action.

Here is my conversation with Tony about boys, mentoring, and rites of passage. Check it out and give me a shout with any questions or your thoughts on the ideas we discussed. 

Through Basecamp for Men, Tony Rezac supports men's groups, provides online training programs, offers individual coaching for men, and speaks (digitally or in person) on Men, Myth, and Manhood.



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 2005-2020 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
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November 27, 2019

What One Man Can Do

In too many communities, there are no or few "boy places." Think about it, where are those places in your neighborhood or community where boys can hang out, be boys, burn off energy, and have fun?Where are the places where boys won't scare the local population (or law enforcement) and attract negative attention? If we're talking out doors, it's often either a basketball court or a skateboard park. That's if the boys are lucky. This is a story about a skateboard park and one motivated man who get's it.


Mark Crothers, is just "a guy" and native resident of Algonac, Michigan. He received the Algonac Asset Award from the Mayor and city council for rejuvenating the town's skate board park. Mark said that prior to the skate park's construction in 2001, he and other guys, "...couldn’t skate anywhere without being stopped by local police and/or business owners...." That's when Mark and others raised the money to build the skate park.

This last year Mark realized the almost 20-year-old skate park was hurting. As the Mayor said when giving out the award, “Mark has fond memories of the park and sprang into action when it fell into disrepair.” Mark gathered up a dozen or so people of different ages, again raised some money, and together they seriously buffed up the park. They even got three artists to come out and create, "...murals and graffiti art throughout the ramps."



...a robust role model
demonstrating leadership and compassion...

When she gave out the award, the Mayor described how, during the process, Mark had been, "...a robust role model demonstrating leadership and compassion to the younger skaters who use it now." The Mayor also honored the young boys who helped with the skate park redo, calling them individually to the front of the room and presenting them with certificates. How awesome is THAT in this age when too many young males are highlighted for bad behavior and demeaned by the media?

In closing the award ceremony, the Mayor and others offered a number of powerful predictions and blessings. One I really like came from Mayor Pro Tem, Rocky Gillis. He said, “Every time a person steps up and volunteers to help something, they own a little piece of that,... Every one of those kids that helped now are going to be the ones that make sure that it stays the way it is for generations to come.”

Mayor Stoneburner said, "... Mark has become a mentor to our own children in this community, ... It doesn’t always happen like this, and I couldn’t be more proud of our community, Mark, and these boys.”

The Mayor also made what I think is a valid prediction. Referring to the boys she said, “They’re seeing how to mentor, they’re learning how to do this, and when they grow up, they’re going to be up here with a crew of kids helping them having done something,” ... “I’m just sure of it. Thank you so much, gentlemen.”

Isn't this an amazing and wonderful story about the impact one motivated man rallying a few allies, can have in the lives of a lot of boys and in the life of his community. You can read the whole story in The Voice, an online Newspaper about Algonac and the surrounding area.



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 2005-2019 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
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November 11, 2019

How to Hold Discussion Groups With Kids

If you're a fan of this blog, you know how dedicated I am to having adult men sitting in conversation circles with young guys. I've been at it for almost 20 years and I believe it is one of the most boy-civilizing, healing, emotionally rich, and joyful things a man can do. "Getting real" as the boys describe it, today is called building their Social and Emotional Learning (SEL) capacity. By any name being in conversation with young men is an extraordinarily positive thing for all the males involved.


As a helpful tool for people interested in working with young people in this way, Jean Sunde Peterson's new edition of her book, How (and Why) to Get Students Talking, is a rich resource. She teaches readers how to conduct "guided conversations." She prepares facilitators for the activity with introductory training and needed background materials. If you're wondering what you'll be talking about, she also provides 78 templates for discussion on a wide range of important topics.

Here's my take on just some of Peterson's list of the Social and Emotional learning that comes from discussions in groups of kids and (trained) adults:
  • Recognizing the importance of listening 
  • Recognizing the importance of both verbal and nonverbal skills in conversation 
  • Being able to “grab the moment” to compliment someone 
  • Being able to express compassion and appreciation 
  • Recognizing when it is wise to ask for help 
  • Avoiding assumptions about the thoughts (of others) 
  • Recognizing that everyone is constantly developing—and probably struggling with something 
  • Understanding that teens who seem confident may not feel self-assured 
  • Recognizing that everyone feels stressed, angry, worried, sad, and socially inept at times

You can use this link to order a copy of How (and Why) to Get Students Talking, and if you're interested in or have questions about circles with young guys, give me a shout.

Trust me, the boys are waiting.



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 2005-2019 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
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October 17, 2019

Males 2 Men Mentoring (M2M)

I just LOVE the stories of what one inspired man and some of his brothers in mission can create. In a way, it's nothing special, just good and caring men doing what men have done naturally, forever . . . show the young men what it means to be a man.

Tray Taylor, of the Males 2 Men (M2M) mentoring program in Kansas City, MO. describes the M2M mission this way, "Males 2 Men (has) one purpose in mind: To raise strong, conscious, productive men, and re-establish responsible, accountable leadership in the community."

. . . just good and caring men doing
what men have done naturally,
forever. . .


Just looking at their Facebook photos will tell you the whole story. The boys get experience using tools and building things, gardening, car repair, cleaning up their community, gutting and grilling fish, learning about what men do from visiting speakers, and much, much more. In addition to meetings and outdoor learning experiences, in the photos you'll see Mr. Taylor hosting up to 20 kids at his home most Monday evenings. They hang out, get help with homework, learn things, have fun, and eat dinner together (always a great strategy for boys).

My experience is that once men get over their fears, time spent with boys is not at all hard for men to do, and it all comes naturally. Everything just falls into place in the pack of males when the men show up. It does take a commitment and the desire to not just save the boys in your community, but to support them in eventually becoming good and capable men. "It's important to show (the kids) the pitfalls out there in the community — what not to do, what to do; be a leader, not a follower," Taylor said, "We're able to tap into something, things that we went through, and try to lead them through a different path or show them something different."

I loved the story about how at one meeting one of the men, Smoke, ". . .went over the electrical schematics on a truck, he taught the boys how to check the tire pressure and learn about all of the different parts under the hood. . ." That made me happy, because no one ever did that form me. I remember the first time as a teen when I caught a whiff of the air that comes out of a tire when you try to bring it up to the right pressure. Nothing else smells like that. It's just great that the men were helping the boys understand the many mysteries under the hood and around the vehicle.

The Males 2 Men mentoring program is free and open to boys between the ages of 7 and 19. There are seven male mentors working with Mr. Taylor. As he says about these adult men (and everyone reading this post), "Everybody has a part to play," . . ."It just depends on what part they want to play."

"...change the narrative of the nation for young black males!"


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

If you're not yet ready to step up to support young guys in some way in your community, you can help the M2M men in their work. Make a small (or large) donation on their Go Fund Me campaign. It's a great cause, you will be helping a lot, and you'll be doing something to change the world.



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 2005-2019 Earl Hipp. All Rights Reserved.
Sharing with attribution allowed. All other use require permission.