DINAH SWAIN

TruthToTell Monday, August 20-9AM: COMMUNITY CABLE & ACCESS: Can We Keep a Grip on It?; TruthToTell, Aug 13: NONPROFIT CONUNDRUM: To Merge or Not Merge - PODCAST BELOW

UPCOMING SHOW

Tune in this coming Monday from 9:00 am to 10:00 am on KFAI, (90.3 FM in Minneapolis, and 106.7 FM in St. Paul) to catch our upcoming program:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Remember – call and join the conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post onTruthToTell’s Facebook page.

HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE!

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Do you watch your local access channels or community programming productions? Why not? These have always had tremendous potential for connecting people and neighborhoods in our cities or the cities and regions and they may be forever lost to the powerful cable companies that control their physical and financial resources – mostlyComcast Cable around here – never to be seen again, those connections will be lost.

A prominent StarTribune story a few weeks ago detailed the demise of one cable access group in Eden Prairie after the city council there agreed with the near monopoly cable TV service supplier around here, Comcast, that the entity should be shut down.

We know that long-standing promises Cable companies made to all the cities and clusters of suburbs to maintain both channels and equipment for community programming and access production are under siege and being broken all over the place. Unfortunately, unlike the days when City Councils and Joint Cable Commissions (most suburbs) extracted some serious commitments to a long life of funding and equipment supply for local cable access facilities with two or more channels set aside for local communities and organizations to produce public, educational and religious access programs, city councils and cable commissions are now buying into cable company arguments that not enough people are using those channels and equipment to justify continuing the set-asides.

This may be a chicken-egg issue. Is lack of adequate use spawning the movement to take back the channels? Or are cable access groups brining this on because they fail to produce and promote enough programming to justify continued existence?

Some cable access users and facilities are busier than others creating shows of wide-ranging quality and content. That was bound to be true, no matter the city or group of cities where cable access and community programming outfits operate. Many cities have far different arrangements from their sister cities in the Metro, and some cable franchises cover a multitude of communities, perhaps as many as seven cities in a cluster of cable subscribers and these operate under joint powers agreements struck in order to secure the best deal possible from the cable companies who bid on those franchises with extravagant promises, some promising the moon in terms of channel numbers, programs and varieties, carriage of local television stations originally watched free of charge with rabbit ears or rooftop antennas. And cable access cameras, studios, channels and other equipment and facilities to broadcast programs to every nook and cranny of each city.

Aside from periodic complaints about First Amendment abuses by some access producers, most cable access organizations have supplies community information and programming ranging from scrolling community calendars and event announcements to well-produced in-studio discussions or edited digital documentaries. But, as with all available services, such capability must be heavily promoted and facilitated – both in training users on complex equipment and production values and techniques and in the sort of content that might reach wide or narrow audiences with some ease.

With cable companies now lusting after underutilized and potentially profitable access channels in some franchise locations, any city or joint commission agreeing to turn channels back for company use, or curtailing the existence or use of company-supplied space or equipment is setting precedents for future court challenges of franchise promises long ago made by the original cable company owners. Most every original franchise applicant company has been bought out – by one or a series – of the ever-consolidating media industry, thanks to an eroding regulatory climate, something this program has explored in some, if not complete depth over the last couple of years.

Join the conversation with TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL next Monday here on TruthToTell. We’ll bring on a few advocates for local access, examine the different local franchises that promise such services and channel space and even ask a Comcast rep to come on and explain why out of the hundreds of channels available, they feel the need to scuttle such franchises just to tack on more commercial programming that is far less useful to us than programs created and cablecast by our own people.

GUESTS:

JEFF STRATE – Eden Prairie cable access producer and activist; former TPT producer of cultural affairs programming.

MIKE WASSENAAR – Executive Director, Saint Paul Neighborhood Network (SPNN); longtime community programmer; former Chair of KFAI’s Board of Directors

MICHAEL FALLON – Executive Director, Minneapolis Telecommunications Network (MTN)

INVITED:  EMMETT COLEMAN, Comcast Government Affairs

AND for the younger set - a possible visit from a major celebrity talking about - oh, yes - ranked choice voting!

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MOST RECENT SHOW

Listen to our most recent show here, or browse our archives >

Monday, August 13, 2012

Remember – call and join the conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post onTruthToTell’s Facebook page.

HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE!

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I reckon very few of you have not been involved with sort of nonprofit organization somewhere in your lifetime. Some of us are what many might call nonprofit junkies, although that might be stretching a point, because almost always, it isn’t the nonprofit itself, but what services it performs for the betterment of humankind – usually – that attracts us.

Some nonprofits offer direct services to people in need. Others work with other groups to organize communities or like-minded groups to accomplish a specific mission – often an education effort of some sort or one that delivers services to a specific constituency or funds others doing the same.

Recent years have found many of the thousands of nonprofits re-assessing how they’re funded and governed, perhaps partly because of diminishing pools of dollars available, especially if funders change their priorities in midstream or community and constituent needs change significantly (rare), or even the possibility that expansion is required to fulfill one’s mission (fill the need or abandon it).

Nonprofit boards and staff must often look internally, the most difficult perspective of all – to decide what gut-wrenching changes are needed (aren’t they all?) to either expand their reach or even to survive.

Some of the questions needing to be asked: Can the organization sustain itself as currently configured? Is the governance model working? Who’s in charge and is it an appropriate authority? Is the tail wagging the dog? And, most of all: is the mission being met? Is our constituency being adequately and properly served?

Strategic planning is a normal method for assessing all of these, but one of the most difficult decisions is yet to come for many groups:

To merge or not to merge? And, if yes, with whom? How will that look?

Resistance to change is well-known – classic as a human dynamic. Giving up independence and the authority it brings is another conundrum, especially if a founding mother or father is part of the mix. The questions are unending, which is why we can’t even ask all of them, let alone answer any of them.

But we can create a conversation about the challenges faced by nonprofits as they rush to make hard choices in hard times. Some advocates – especially large social services funders like Greater Twin Cities United Way – clearly believe that mergers portend more success than failure and they offer a study of 41 merged nonprofits conducted over the last several months by MAP for Nonprofits in concert with Wilder Foundation. Titled“Success Factors in Nonprofit Mergers” the study spawned a day-long session last week, held to thrash out the pros and cons of the merger movement. The entire enterprise was funded by Wells Fargo Bank, The Huss Foundation and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.

Others in the business of consulting, advising and servicing nonprofits aren’t necessarily so sure. There may be many success factors among nonprofits who’ve merged, but did they really have to and have their individual missions been enhanced by the combined corporations?

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI talk with two of the leading organizers of the study and the ensuing conference, along with a couple of leaders of well known organizations that have merged, sometime several times over the years. We’ll also bring in an outside consultant in organizational effectiveness and community empowerment.

GUESTS:

 JUDY ALNES – Executive Director of MAP for Nonprofits


 DINAH SWAIN – Director of Community Forums,Greater Twin Cities United Way; member of the Systems Change and Innovation team

 ARMANDO CAMACHO – President,Neighborhood House, St. Paul



 STEVE CRAMER – President and Executive Director, Project for Pride in Living; former Minneapolis City Councilmember; former executive director of the Minneapolis Community Development Agency


BARBARA RAYE – Executive Director, Center for Policy, Planning, and Performance


TruthToTell, Monday, Aug 13 - 9AM: NONPROFIT CONUNDRUM: To Merge or Not Merge; TruthToTell Aug 6: ENCORE: POVERTY TODAY: The Painful Part of the 99%

UPCOMING SHOW

Tune in this coming Monday from 9:00 am to 10:00 am on KFAI, (90.3 FM in Minneapolis, and 106.7 FM in St. Paul) to catch our upcoming program:

Monday, August 13, 2012

Remember – call and join the conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post onTruthToTell’s Facebook page.

HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I reckon very few of you have not been involved with sort of nonprofit organization somewhere in your lifetime. Some of us are what many might call nonprofit junkies, although that might be stretching a point, because almost always, it isn’t the nonprofit itself, but what services it performs for the betterment of humankind – usually – that attracts us.

Some nonprofits offer direct services to people in need. Others work with other groups to organize communities or like-minded groups to accomplish a specific mission – often an education effort of some sort or one that delivers services to a specific constituency or funds others doing the same.

Recent years have found many of the thousands of nonprofits re-assessing how they’re funded and governed, perhaps partly because of diminishing pools of dollars available, especially if funders change their priorities in midstream or community and constituent needs change significantly (rare), or even the possibility that expansion is required to fulfill one’s mission (fill the need or abandon it).

Nonprofit boards and staff must often look internally, the most difficult perspective of all – to decide what gut-wrenching changes are needed (aren’t they all?) to either expand their reach or even to survive.

Some of the questions needing to be asked: Can the organization sustain itself as currently configured? Is the governance model working? Who’s in charge and is it an appropriate authority? Is the tail wagging the dog? And, most of all: is the mission being met? Is our constituency being adequately and properly served?

Strategic planning is a normal method for assessing all of these, but one of the most difficult decisions is yet to come for many groups:

To merge or not to merge? And, if yes, with whom? How will that look?

Resistance to change is well-known – classic as a human dynamic. Giving up independence and the authority it brings is another conundrum, especially if a founding mother or father is part of the mix. The questions are unending, which is why we can’t even ask all of them, let alone answer any of them.

But we can create a conversation about the challenges faced by nonprofits as they rush to make hard choices in hard times. Some advocates – especially large social services funders like Greater Twin Cities United Way – clearly believe that mergers portend more success than failure and they offer a study of 41 merged nonprofits conducted over the last several months by MAP for Nonprofits in concert with Wilder Foundation. Titled“Success Factors in Nonprofit Mergers” the study spawned a day-long session last week, held to thrash out the pros and cons of the merger movement. The entire enterprise was funded by Wells Fargo Bank, The Huss Foundation and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.

Others in the business of consulting, advising and servicing nonprofits aren’t necessarily so sure. There may be many success factors among nonprofits who’ve merged, but did they really have to and have their individual missions been enhanced by the combined corporations?

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI talk with two of the leading organizers of the study and the ensuing conference, along with a couple of leaders of well known organizations that have merged, sometime several times over the years. We’ll also bring in an outside consultant in organizational effectiveness and community empowerment.

GUESTS:

 JUDY ALNES – Executive Director of MAP for Nonprofits


 DINAH SWAIN – Director of Community Forums,Greater Twin Cities United Way; member of the Systems Change and Innovation team

 ARMANDO CAMACHO – President,Neighborhood House, St. Paul



 STEVE CRAMER – President and Executive Director, Project for Pride in Living; former Minneapolis City Councilmember; former executive director of the Minneapolis Community Development Agency


BARBARA RAYE – Executive Director, Center for Policy, Planning, and Performance


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MOST RECENT SHOW

Listen to our most recent show here, or browse our archives >

Monday, August 6, 2012

ENCORE: We take you back to our April discussion of poverty’s grip on Minnesota and its devastating effects on people often blamed for being poor. This was an important discussion with people on the front lines of fighting poverty and the policymakers who would just as soon keep them that way. READ ON.

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HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The baffling thing about poverty, like other societal maladies, apparently, is that, despite the dry, old statistics showing incredible increases in poverty, the decline in median incomes, the rise in homelessness and the decline in public assistance, the increase in foreclosures and the plunge in property values – the gap widens – and the people in power really don’t seem to give a damn.

What is it going to take – a complete collapse (as if we’re not already witnessing one) of our economic infrastructure before middle-class suburbanites take up arms against The Man and find themselves in the same place as the poor and people of color have been for decades – on the business end of a police officer’s 9mm Glock or Billy-club, a pepper-spray can or tear-gas canister for their trouble?

Perhaps. Then again, perhaps, that will be the only time a march on the banks and politicians will yield some results and policies will change and wealth will be shared.

But, leave us not hold our breath.

Average citizens/residents are feeling the pinch created by people and institutions who literally could care less – because they seem to have no depths to their lack of caring.

Poverty is NOT one of those conditions that will get better by the pulling up of bootstraps. Poverty is a societal disease that needs a major injection and infusion of capital – real capital – money and other resources. Anything else is a punishment inflicted on people who have less than the people making the decisions and who spend much of their legislative or administrative time and capital denying others their fair share of a pie they keep shrinking.

How bad is it?

Cynthia Boyd of MinnPost.com wrote last Fall:

Nationally, the poverty rate is 15.1 percent, while Minnesota ranks 13th lowest in the nation in numbers of those living below the poverty line ($11,344 for an individual or $22,113 household income for a family of four), but the state's numbers have increased significantly from 2007-2008. The poverty rate then was 9.6 percent.  

The effects play out in the state in concrete ways. Human Services Commissioner Lucinda Jesson told MinnPost last month that 104,000 more Minnesotans have signed on for food support this year compared to last.

And a September 2011 Minnesota Budget Project report comes this:

In 2009-2010, 560,000 Minnesotans lived in poverty, or roughly one out of ten state residents. That represents a 2.1 percentage point increase from 2006-07. Nationwide, 46.2 million people were in poverty in 2010.

Even more staggering, the preliminary numbers show that over the last decade,Minnesota’s median household income fell from $65,120 in 1999-2000 to $54,785 in 2009-2010, or by more than $10,000, after adjusting for inflation. Only Michigan experienced a larger decline in median income during the same period.

And, should anyone believe this is limited to the Metro – where many believe all “those people” live – this from Robb Murray of the Mankato Free Press:

John Woodwick, executive director of the Minnesota Valley Action Council in Mankato, said the number of people in the nine-county area served by MVAC rose from 16,292 in 2000 to 26,233 in 2009, an increase of 61 percent.

During the same period, federal and state funding for MVAC’s (poverty-related)services has decreased 21 percent on a per-person basis. In 2000, MVAC received a total of $793 in federal and state funds for every person living in poverty in the south-central Minnesota service area. By 2009, funding had decreased to $627 per person, according to MVAC’s annual budgets.

“We haven’t seen lately the massive layoffs we’ve seen in the last two years, but the new hires aren’t happening either,” Woodwick said. “And many people haven’t been able to locate work, especially not at what their previous wages were.”

The once-reliable Minnesota, Metro and regional foundations have cut their humans services funding, sometimes by half, even as many nonprofits and advocacy groups came to believe philanthropy would fill the gaps political types either created or refused to fill.

This year’s legislative session almost made a complete disaster of its humans services bill(s), but escaped some of the worst cuts tendered for passage by Republican bill sponsors, perhaps in the face of sure vetoes by Governor Mark Dayton. But, this is all relative, is it not?

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI talk with just three of the many Minnesota advocates whose ulcer-ridden work continues to be a war against the disproportionate impact of rightwing politics and a struggling economy that gives the policymakers the excuse to cut further into the lives of the people they blame for being poor: the poor themselves.

GUESTS:

Katherine Wagoner, Executive Director, Affirmative Options Coalition

Angel Buechner -  Co-Chair, Welfare Rights Committee

Nancy Maeker - Executive Director, A Minnesota Without Poverty

TruthToTell, Aug 13: NONPROFIT CONUNDRUM: To Merge or Not Merge - PODCAST BELOW

On-air date: 
Mon, 08/13/2012
Listen to or download this episode here: 

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Remember – call and join the conversation – 612-341-0980 – or Tweet us @TTTAndyDriscoll or post on TruthToTell’s Facebook page.

HELP US BRING YOU THESE IMPORTANT DISCUSSIONS OF COMMUNITY INTEREST – PLEASE DONATE HERE!

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

I reckon very few of you have not been involved with sort of nonprofit organization somewhere in your lifetime. Some of us are what many might call nonprofit junkies, although that might be stretching a point, because almost always, it isn’t the nonprofit itself, but what services it performs for the betterment of humankind – usually – that attracts us.

Some nonprofits offer direct services to people in need. Others work with other groups to organize communities or like-minded groups to accomplish a specific mission – often an education effort of some sort or one that delivers services to a specific constituency or funds others doing the same.

Recent years have found many of the thousands of nonprofits re-assessing how they’re funded and governed, perhaps partly because of diminishing pools of dollars available, especially if funders change their priorities in midstream or community and constituent needs change significantly (rare), or even the possibility that expansion is required to fulfill one’s mission (fill the need or abandon it).

Nonprofit boards and staff must often look internally, the most difficult perspective of all – to decide what gut-wrenching changes are needed (aren’t they all?) to either expand their reach or even to survive.

Some of the questions needing to be asked: Can the organization sustain itself as currently configured? Is the governance model working? Who’s in charge and is it an appropriate authority? Is the tail wagging the dog? And, most of all: is the mission being met? Is our constituency being adequately and properly served?

Strategic planning is a normal method for assessing all of these, but one of the most difficult decisions is yet to come for many groups:

To merge or not to merge? And, if yes, with whom? How will that look?

Resistance to change is well-known – classic as a human dynamic. Giving up independence and the authority it brings is another conundrum, especially if a founding mother or father is part of the mix. The questions are unending, which is why we can’t even ask all of them, let alone answer any of them.

But we can create a conversation about the challenges faced by nonprofits as they rush to make hard choices in hard times. Some advocates – especially large social services funders like Greater Twin Cities United Way – clearly believe that mergers portend more success than failure and they offer a study of 41 merged nonprofits conducted over the last several months by MAP for Nonprofits in concert with Wilder Foundation. Titled “Success Factors in Nonprofit Mergers” the study spawned a day-long session last week, held to thrash out the pros and cons of the merger movement. The entire enterprise was funded by Wells Fargo Bank, The Huss Foundation and the Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation of Minnesota.

Others in the business of consulting, advising and servicing nonprofits aren’t necessarily so sure. There may be many success factors among nonprofits who’ve merged, but did they really have to and have their individual missions been enhanced by the combined corporations?

TTT’s ANDY DRISCOLL and MICHELLE ALIMORADI talk with two of the leading organizers of the study and the ensuing conference, along with a couple of leaders of well known organizations that have merged, sometime several times over the years. We’ll also bring in an outside consultant in organizational effectiveness and community empowerment.

GUESTS:

 JUDY ALNES – Executive Director of MAP for Nonprofits


 DINAH SWAIN – Director of Community Forums, Greater Twin Cities United Way; member of the Systems Change and Innovation team

 ARMANDO CAMACHO – President, Neighborhood House, St. Paul



 STEVE CRAMER – President and Executive Director, Project for Pride in Living; former Minneapolis City Councilmember; former executive director of the Minneapolis Community Development Agency


BARBARA RAYE – Executive Director, Center for Policy, Planning, and Performance