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Why We Exist; What We Have Done; Our Next Steps With Your Help

 Quick Look at our 74126, 74130 McLain/Turley Area And Our Response and Major Next Steps Needed

A Third Place Community Foundation,

We also serve Sperry through our free food store, and the gardenpark and orchard is for all with no geographic restrictions.

Proximate Boundaries: 46th to 76th St. North, Highway 75 to Osage County Line
We are more than our statistics. We have strengths and spirit, and beautiful land, and people helping people in many ways. But, also….

1.     We die 10.7 years sooner than in midtown just 6 miles away on Peoria Ave. We and others are making a difference; when we began in 2007, the life expectancy gap was 13.8 years. Life expectancy studies reveal 10 percent comes from clinical treatment, 20 percent comes from genetics; that leaves 70 percent of the impact to come from lifestyle choices (50 percent) and environmental factors (20 percent, much of which contributes to the capacity to make good lifestyle choices).

2.     Rated Second Worse Zipcode in Tulsa for health outcomes: based on 1 best and 5 worst scale, the 74126 is 4.320 and our neighbor 74106 is the worst at 4.570. 74130 is 3.950 the fifth worst. By comparison 74114 is 2.150, so more than twice healthier. Our zipcode has the Worst health care access rates.

3.     2009 OU and Third Place Foundation nutrition study: 60 percent can’t afford healthy food; 55 percent worry about amount of food they have; 6 percent use spoiled food; 29 percent adults skip meals. .31 percent receive food from church, 35 percent borrow food from family, 25 percent borrow food from friends, 25 percent adults skip entire day from eating, 29 percent adults skip meals, 26 percent did not eat and are hungry at time of survey, 43 percent eat less than they should, 60 percent eat low cost foods, 52 percent cannot afford nutritious meals, 57 percent run out of food. The Food environment: 29 percent have no affordable source of food in community, 63 percent know about a food pantry, 56 percent rate the food quality in Turley area as fair or poor, 59 percent indicate food in Turley area expensive or very expensive relative to budget. Overall Health: 56 percent not currently healthy, 41 percent health is fair or poor, 54 percent are overweight, 66 percent say they should weigh less, 47 percent smoke or use other tobacco.

4.     2013 OU and Third Place Foundation study just at our Food Store: 52.6 percent high food insecurity; 42.1 percent very high food insecurity, experiencing hunger symptoms when surveyed; 68.4 percent of households have at least one member with nutrition-related chronic disease; 53 percent depression; 47 percent anxiety; 53 percent high blood pressure; 32 percent high cholesterol; 47 percent obese and 21 percent overweight.

5. Our demographic at food store: 68 percent women, 42 percent black, 36 percent white, 63 percent under $10,000 annual household income; 5 percent employed, 47.4 percent disabled, 42 percent less than high school education and 16 percent have a high school degree.

6. We connect and serve with some 1000 of our neighbors monthly, of the 11,500 in our primary service area. Our population has declined by 1000 in the past four years which means the needs have increased as more has closed. Unemployment numbers are double the state average.

Our Response:
In 2007 we turned our church inside out and focused organization on community concerns and connections and opened up a community center with a computer center, library, clothing room, meeting space and soon housed an OU Health Clinic and began working with OU Graduate Social Work program on community forums and projects. Called it A Third Place as part of the global third places or third spaces movement of creating free public spaces where people could meet and work with people who are different from them to make a difference around them.

In 2009 we formed A Third Place Community Foundation as a non-faith-based non-profit, and began demonstration community garden on donated church land. In 2010 we raised funds aided by a project by the OU Graduate Design Studio, to buy the block of abandoned neglected burned out properties and illegal dump site across from where our demonstration garden was located, and with federal stimulus funds we began clearing it; that year we also bought a large abandoned church building to move the community center into for expansion. In 2011 as the OU health clinic closed with us, we began working with OU Graduate Social Work intern and classes to develop a lay health worker plan that would use our residents mentoring our residents who go to the emergency room the most, and the “medical mentors” would be trained by OU community medicine residents but funding never came to initiate the program.

In 2011 in our new space in the old vandalized church building we expanded our programs for the community center meeting space, free bookstore, computer center, art room, clothing and more room, and expanded our food pantry and store. We hold community festivals in both the Center and at the GardenPark and Orchard.

In 2011 we won an online contest for the community orchard; and we received a federal home loan bank grant for our park site preparation. For the past five years we have been living and growing in and adding to both of our properties, as well as working on blighted areas in the community.   

Next major steps

for the GardenPark and Orchard: finish the greenhouse, add aquaponics and kitchen; construct the 2100 sq ft hoop house; expand the Children’s Garden; build the 20 foot long Welcome Table; construct a stage, a deck, and a shade area. Launch the annual Grow Pots program to help families at the food store to grow their own food at home. Help people start smaller gardens on abandoned lots in their neighborhoods.

for the Community Center: Finish the Community Room in the south building for the free bookstore, computer area, classroom, kitchen, meeting space; move and expand the art rooms and studio and create a gallery in the Central Building; expand the food store with a third room for shopping and added storage; Finish the outside Permaculture Flood Management Project, and outdoor deck and gardens and benches and small hoop house. 


Our 2016 Area Demographics and Disparities

Quick Look at New Data for our Area 
Served by A Third Place Community Foundation

City of Tulsa area Served by Us: north of 46th St.
Population declined twice as much from 2012 as was projected to, down 11.2 percent from then, down 19.9 percent from 2000 at same time as national population grew by 14.6 percent; a difference gap of nearly 35 percent; now 9,082. In next five years projected to increase by 1.2 percent compared to national projection of 3.7 percent.
Unincorporated area Served by Us: generally north of 56th St. to 76th St.
Population declined 11.4 percent from 2012, and has declined 14.9 percent from 2000 as the national population increased by 14.6 percent, a gap of some 29.5 percent; it is projected to rise barely to .01 percent by 2021. Currently 2,432.
Total population served is 11,514.

City Side: Anglos 15.5 percent, expected to rise to 17.7; All others 84.5 percent; African American population 69.3 percent (a drop from 85.5 percent in 2012), projected to continue decline in five years to 64.7 percent. Note that 50 years ago there was virtually zero percent African American population in the area. Hispanics at 4.7 up from 2.2 percent in 2012, projected to rise to 5.5 percent in five years.
County side: Anglos at 55.6 percent expected to decline to 54.9 percent in 2021; African American at 14.7 percent expected to decline to 13.6 percent. Hispanics at 12.5 percent expected to rise to 14 percent in 2021. Native Americans and others 17.3 percent staying about the same in 2021. 


City Side: Millenials 28.6 percent are top category but have declined from 34. 1 percent in 2012 and are projected to decline more to 26.6 percent.   
Generation Z (0 to 14) 25.7 (most overrepresented group in the area) projected to rise to 33.2 percent in 2021, up from 15.8 in 2010 census and up from 19.1 percent in 2012 study.As the older populations decrease, the newest generation will automatically see its percentages increase; in multi generational families? families before school age?
So those born 1982 and later (0 to 34 years old) account for 44.3 percent of our population in this area;not much economic accumulation. Median age is 31.8

County Side: Survivors (age 35 to 55) 27.1% of the total population in the area. Boomers (age 56 to 73) make up 20.9% of the population which compared to a national average of 19.5% makes them the most over-represented group in the area. Median age is 39.5. 


City Side: Per capita income is $12,857, up from 11,217 in 2012. projected to rise to 14,050 in 2021. Oklahoma per capita income is $23,094. Median household income is $26,279. State median is $42,979.
Some 31.2 percent of our Households have average income under $15,000 at 31.2 percent, our top income percentage category;  this number has risen from 26.4 percent in 2010 census; projected to decline to 29.5 percent in 2021.
Some 44.4 percent of households fall below the povery line, and 23 percent of those have children. Poverty status is below $24,250 for family of 4. Compares to 13.9 percent nationally, and 7.9 percent with children.  
Households without retirement income: 91.6 percent compared to 81.5 nationally.

County Side: Per capita income is $18,929, expected to rise to $20,029 in five years.  Median household income is $37,070, expected to rise to $40,022.
Largest income category is those making under 15,000 at 18.7 percent. Household below poverty line 20.2 percent, 11.9 percent with children. . Some 82.6 percent without retirement income.

City Side:  84.4 percent over 25yo graduated from high school (up from 73.3 percent in 2012) compared to national avg of 86.4 percent, but college graduates 8.3 percent of those over 25 (compared to 7.6 percent in 2012) and compared to 29.4 percent in US. Currently 15.4 percent enrolled in college compared to national avg of 28.4 percent.
County Side: 78 percent of those 25 and over have high school, college graduates account for 9.7 percent, Enrolled in college is 17.4 percent.

City Side: unemployment is 10.8 percent compared to 5.6 percent nationally, and 4.1 percent in Oklahoma.
County Side: unemployment is 8.3 percent.

City side: Almost 13 percent no vehicle, some 42.2 percent with one vehicle. Some 51.9 percent travel up to 30 minutes to work. 17 percent travel up to 45 minutes;  
County Side: 4.2 percent no vehicle; 34.2 with one vehicle; 47.4 percent travel up to 30 minutes to work; 20.9 percent travel up to 45 minutes to work.

Cultural Concerns
City Side: Metro Multi-Ethnic Diversity and Struggling Black Families are top two cultural categories.

MMED--younger segment than most, still contains a number of individuals in 40s and 50s. single parent families and households with five or more persons ranks high, and overall household size is somewhat above average. Income and education levels low. Use of public transportation is double the national average and car pooling is higher than national average for this form of transportation. Faith involvement far above average in this segment:  Rather than have a strong leader they prefer to be left on their own without interference; concern for twelve step programs, youth social programs, personal or family counseling, church sponsored day school preferences.

SBF--This segment is concentrated in urban areas particularly in the South. Almost half of adults are without high school diplomas, median household income is far below the national average, and four in ten households own no vehicle. This segment leads all other groups in watching Saturday mid-day and afternoon television. Strong faith involvement and belief in God are well above the national average. Primary concerns are Racial/Ethnic Prejudice, Affordable Housing (ranks number one), Neighborhood Gangs, Neighborhood Crime and Safety (ranks number two), Abusive Relationships and Alcohol/Drug Abuse. This segment ranks nearly last in concern for Recreation or Leisure Time.
Household concerns: racial ethnic prejudice, finding spiritual teaching, neighborhood gangs, crime and safety, finding good church, affordable housing

County Side: Laboring Country Families (36.6 percent) and Working Country Consumers (15.7 percent).

LCF— average in median household income. Little more than half of the women are in the labor force. Home ownership is high, with housing units typically being single family dwellings, though property values are lower than most.
Faith involvement is above the national average in all categories. Belief in God is high, and acceptance of the changing racial/ethic face of America is low.
The primary concerns of this group are Divorce, Finding Spiritual Teaching, Abusive Relationships, Finding a Good Church, Teen/Child Problems and Parenting Skills.

WCC--- This segment is evenly split between urban and rural populations. It consists of persons of all ages, with income and education somewhat below average. Blue collar employment is high, as are precision production and craft

occupations. Over two-thirds of all homes are single-unit structures and mobile homes make up a noticeable percentage of the total. The primary concerns of this group are Adequate Food, Health Insurance, Day-to-Day Financial Worries, Finding Spiritual Teaching, Abusive Relationships and Stress.

Below is some background summaries. 

I. Our Service Area within the City Limits

Population Overall Continues Dropping

9,082 residents, a drop of 19.9 percent since the year 2000 at same time US population grew by 14.6 percent.

Since our 2012 Percept Data Study, this area has lost 1,155 residents or a drop of 11.2 percent (our 2012 study projected a decline of 5.1 percent, so it has more than doubled the decline)

This parallels with the closure in 2012 of many of our neighborhood schools by TPS, though all of them have now been reopened as charter or other focused schools and not necessarily serving just the neighborhood area.It also reflects the continued difficulty in jobs, transportation, and abandoned structures, loss of post office.

But Projected to Grow: by 2021 the area is projected to increase by 1.2 percent, or 110 additional persons compared to national growth of 3.7 percent.

Lifestyle Diversity: overall low (12 or 50 lifestyles represented; evidence of income and other segregations; metro multi-ethnic diversity is most prevalent with 46 percent.  However, racial and ethnic diversity is extremely high compared to national avg; Anglos 15.5 percent (projected to increase to 17.7 percent); others 84.5 percent compared to national 39 percent nationally.

African Americans at 69.3 percent of this population (was at 85.5 percent in 2012 and had been projected to rise; remember that 50 years ago there was virtually zero percent African Americans in this area). Projection for next five years: Native Americans and others (Hispanics) projected to be fastest growing and increasing numbers by 16.6 percent. In 2010 census Hispanics were 3.8 percent; in 2012 study were down to 2.2 percent (effect of state legislation causing cultural retrenching); now at 4.7 percent and expected to continue rising to 5.5 percent. Native Americans, Asian, Others now at 10.5 percent, an increase from 5.3 percent in 2012 study (which predicted a slow decline) and predicted to rise to 12.1 percent in 2021 compared to 8.6 percent in 2010 census.

[as the African American population percentages decline, the percentages of remaining ethnicities automatically rises].

Gender: 53.8 percent female up from 53.6 in 2012 study, down from 54.2 in 2010 census and projected slight decline 53.5 percent in 2021. Male at 46.2 expected to rise to 46.5 in 2021.

Generations: Millenials 28.6 percent projected decline to 26.6, down from 34. 1 percent in 2012;  

Generation Z (0 to 14) 25.7 (most overrepresented group in the area) projected to rise to 33.2 percent in 2021, up from 15.8 in 2010 census and up from 19.1 percent in 2012 study.As the older populations decrease, the newest generation will automatically see its percentages increase; in multi generational families? families before school age?

So those born 1982 and later (0 to 34 years old) account for 44.3 percent of our population in this area;not much economic accumulation.

Survivors (1961 to 1981) at 23.3 percent up from 22.9 percent in 2012, down from 25.5 in 2010 and projected to decline to 22 percent in 2021. Boomers, 1943 to 1960 births, 17.2 percent which is up from 16.4 percent in 2012 study though down from 20.1 percent in 2010 census, projected to decline to 14.5 percent in 2021. Silents and Builders, 1942 and earlier births, account for 5.2 percent (builders just .2 percent) projected to decline to 3.7 percent in 2021 down from 7.4 percent in 2010 and 7.5 percent in 2012…..Average age is 34.6 which is up from 31.4 in 2012 and projected to rise to 35.1 in 2021. Median age is 31.8 expected to stay virtually the same.

Household income: Avg is $35,224; median is $26,279 (avg is up from 33,491 in 2010 census and 33,891 in 2012; expected to rise to 38,075 in 2021; median is down from 28,295 in 2010 and down slightly from 26,476 in 2012, expected to rise to 27,999 in 2021).

Per capita income is $12,857, up from 11,217 in 2012 and 11,977 in 2010; projected to rise to 14,050 in 2021.

[Households by income under $15,000 at 31.2 percent, our top income category; up from 26.4 percent in 2010 census and projected to decline to 29.5 percent in 2021. ]

Households by poverty status ($24,250 for family of 4): 
44.4 percent below the poverty line (23 percent of those with children; compared to 13.9 percent nationally and 7.9 percent nationally with children).
Households without retirement income: 91.6 percent compared to 81.5 nationally.

Extremely Non-traditional family structures: below avg married and two parent families. 41.9 percent never married up from 37.7 in 2012 and compared to national avg of 32.9 ; 35 percent married down from 41.8 percent in 2012 and compared to 50.2 nationally; 23.1 divorced/widowed compared to 20.6 in 2012 and 16.9 nationally. Female head of household 35.2 percent up from 32.5 in 2012 compared to 13 percent nationally. Male head of household is 7.4 percent compared to 4.9 percent nationally.

Education: very low. 84.4 percent over 25yo graduated from high school (up from 73.3 percent in 2012) compared to national avg of 86.4 percent, but college graduates 8.3 percent of those over 25 (compared to 7.6 percent in 2012) and compared to 29.4 percent in US. Currently 15.4 percent enrolled in college compared to national avg of 28.4 percent.

Employment and Occupation: 40.8 percent employed compared to 58.1 nationally; 10.8 percent unemployed compared to 5.6 nationally; 48.3 not in labor force compared to 36.3 nationally.
53.4 percent blue collar down from 56.9 in 2012, and compared to 38.5 percent nationally; 46.5 percent white collar up from 43 in 2012 and compared to 61.5 nationally; of white collar, 24.1 is administrative clerical compared to 16 nationally.

Housing: owner occupied 54 percent down from 58.8 percent in 2012 and compared to 65 percent nationally; renter at 46 percent up from 42 percent in 2012 and compared to 35 percent nationally. Median rent as of 2013 is $790 compared to $904 nationally. In 2012 rent was $513 avg.
Largest category, 42 percent of owner occupied homes, had property value under $40,000 compared to just 7.2 percent nationally.
Some 65.5 percent of homes were built between 1950 and 1969.
In 2012 study Vacant Units: 41.8 percent abandoned, not for rent or for sale. No figures in 2016 study.

Transportation: Almost 13 percent no vehicle, some 42.2 percent with one vehicle. Some 51.9 percent travel up to 30 minutes to work.

Metro Multi-Ethnic Diversity 46.2 percent down slightly from 46.3 percent in 2012 of all households compared to 2.7 percent nationally.
Metro Multi-Ethnic Diversity: younger segment than most, still contains a number of individuals in 40s and 50s. single parent families and households with five or more persons ranks high, and overall household size is somewhat above average. Income and education levels low. Use of public transportation is double the national average and car pooling is higher than national average for this form of transportation. Faith involvement far above average in this segment:  Rather than have a strong leader they prefer to be left on their own without interference; twelve step programs, youth social programs, personal or family counseling, church sponsored day school preferences.
 Struggling Black households 34.4 percent down from 35.8 percent in 2012 compared to 2.5 percent nationally.
Struggling Black Households: This segment is concentrated in urban areas particularly in the South. Almost half of adults are without high school diplomas, median household income is far below the national average, and four in ten households own no vehicle. This segment leads all other groups in watching Saturday mid-day and afternoon television. Strong faith involvement and belief in God are well above the national average. Primary concerns are Racial/Ethnic Prejudice, Affordable Housing (ranks number one), Neighborhood Gangs, Neighborhood Crime and Safety (ranks number two), Abusive Relationships and Alcohol/Drug Abuse. This segment ranks nearly last in concern for Recreation or Leisure Time. Contributions to religious organizations, charities and educational institutions are more or less average. Asked to identify programs and characteristics they would prefer in a church, these households are more likely to indicate Bible Study and Prayer Groups (ranks number two), Spiritual Retreats, Twelve Step Programs, Food Resources and Daycare Services.

Household concerns: racial ethnic prejudice, finding spiritual teaching, neighborhood gangs, crime and safety, finding good church, affordable housing

II.                  Unincorporated Turley Neighborhood of our Service Area

Population: 2,432 down from 2,748 in 2012 and projected to rise to 2,460 in 2021.
14.9 percent decline from 2000 at time national population increased 14.6 percent.
Diversity very low 12 of 50 groups; top segment 36.7percent of all households is laboring country families. Racial ethnic diversity however very high; Anglos represent 55 percent and others 44.5 percent. Native Americans and Hispanics and others 16.5 percent. Hispanics projected to increase by 13.5 percent by 2021.
Whites at 55.6 percent expected to decline to 54.9 percent in 2021; African American at 14.7 percent expected to decline to 13.6 percent down from 16.1 percent in 2010 census; Hispanics at 12.5 percent expected to rise to 14 percent in 2021 compared to 10.5 percent in 2010 census; Native Americans and others 17.3 percent staying about the same in 2021 and from the 2010 census as well.

Generations: largest group is Survivors (35 to 55), 27.1 percent of total. Boomers (56 to 73) make up 20.9, most over-represented group compared to national 19.5 percent.

Women make up 50.3 percent of population.
Average age is 39.3; median age is 39.5.

Household income: $49,446 up from 2010 census of $43,886 and expected to rise to $51,865; median household income is $37,070 up from 2010 census 36,507 and expected to rise to $40,022 in 2021; Per capita income is $18,929 up from 2010 census of $16,538 and expected to rise to $20,029 in 2021.
Largest income category is those making under 15,000 at 18.7 percent
Household below poverty line 20.2 percent, 11.9 percent with children. . Some 82.6 percent without retirement income.

Housing: owner occupied 71.5 percent, renter 28.5 percent, median rent $751. Higher percentage 23.1 of mobile homes compared to 7.2 nationally; some 40.5 percent of homes owned are under $40,000 property value. Some 42.2 percent of homes built from 1959 and earlier, including 23.1 percent 1949 and earlier.

Nontraditional family structures but Married 51 percent, divorced/widowed 21.4 percent, single never married 27.7 percent. Female head of household 16.3 percent.

Education extremely low. 78 percent of those 25 and over have high school compared to 86.4 percent, college graduates account for 9.7 percent compared to national average of 29.4. Enrolled in college is 17.4 percent.

Household concerns that are unusually high: finding good church, spiritual teaching, gangs, divorce, teen/child problems, alcohol/drug abuse. 


Upcoming Far North Events: Growing Healthy Lives and Neighborhoods through small acts of justice done with great love, empowering residents and renewing community

Welcome Table Center/Far North Tulsa Community News

(5920 N. Owasso Ave. 918-691-3223

Missional Service Visit from St. John Episcopal Church, come work with their church group as they work with us on Sat. Mar. 19 9 am at the GardenPark and Orchard, 6005 N. Johnstown Ave. Free Breakfast. 

Free Food Truck Hot Lunches at the Welcome Table Center, Weds. 11-11:45 am.  

Free Grocery Store Days Wed. & Sat. 10-12 or by appointment at the Center, serving residents of 74126, 74130, 74073, one visit per month. 

Free Saturdays 9 am Breakfast GardenPark 6005 N. Johnstown Ave.

Free Game Nights, Saturdays, 5 pm with meal at the Welcome Table Center.  

Community Art. Sat. 3:30 to 5 pm at the Welcome Table Center. All ages. Create.

Free Diabetes Empowerment Class, Mondays Mar. 21-April 25, 3:30-5 pm, 56th St. North and MLK, Tulsa Health Depart North Center, 918-595-4075 to enroll.

Food Handlers Permit, Tues. Mar. 22, THD North Center (arrive 1:30 pm).

Free Cooking Class (Super Foods: What Are They?) Thu. Mar. 24, 6-7:30 pm, THD North Center.

Wellness Series: Strategies for Healthy Aging, Fri. Mar. 25, 10 am, THD North.

Free Tulsa Eco-Festival for Families and All, Sat. Mar. 26, 9 am to 3 pm, Tulsa Community College, NE, Apache and Harvard. Visit our booth. 

A Third Places/Welcome Table Orientation conversation with visiting Phillips Seminary class, Tues. Mar. 29, 2:30 pm at the Welcome Table Center.

Community Town Hall, Tues. Mar. 29, 7 pm O’Brien Park, 6147 N. Birmingham.

Free Senior (50 +)  Brunch Program, Tues. April 5, 9:30 am to Noon, THD North. Limited space. Call 918-595-4505 to reserve spaces.

Community Partners and Residents Planning Free Lunch, Thur. April 7 noon Welcome Table Center.   

Area Senior Potluck Lunch, Wed. April 13 12:15 pm Turley United Methodist Church, 6050 N. Johnstown Ave. (across from gardenpark)

Free Mobile Grocery Truck Day, giving out 5 tons of food in one hour, Thurs. April 21, 11 am to noon (volunteers arrive at 9:30 am) Tickets needed to receive food. Come to Wed or Sat. Food Days to receive tickets while they last.

Hosting Life on Fire Missional Church Spiritual Retreat Thu.-Sat. April 28-30.

Our Greenhouse Dedication Party at the GardenPark, Sat. May 7, 2 pm. 


A Third Place Foundation Receives 2015 Dan Allen Center For Social Justice Award and the Leadership Tulsa Star Award

My thank yous and commnt for the award from the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice. The week before we received the Star Award from the Leadership Tulsa. 

Thank you to the Dan Allen Center for Social Justice for this award. Thank you to all of those for whom this award, of course, really goes, those who are doing the unacclaimed work of social justice, of being just good neighbors, in our area of north Tulsa; I can't list them all by any means, all our partners here who we have worked with, and the people showing up and speaking up, like the people who came with us tonight representing a part of our community, and like some who were tremendous friends and helpers here but have moved away, and like too many who have died but left a deep mark on us and through us.

We recently have been celebrating, of sorts, the fact that our zipcode has decreased its life expectancy gap with midtown and south Tulsa from almost 14 years to almost 11 years. I am here to tell you that the cause of that drop (even though the gap is still outrageous) is from the social determinants of health, which means it is due much more to all of the work of all of those individuals and small volunteer nonprofits and neighborhood leaders and faith communities and schools and small business people than it is to any larger medical institutions, as much as we need them and more of them too. 

It is our free food store and gardenpark and orchard and community meals and community information and programs and support of schools, parks, and working on the trash and blight and abandoned houses and properties, and for justice for our area that has helped to narrow the life expectancy gap. Our organization is literally saving lives.

Thank you most of all to my family. Everyone who knows about A Third Place Foundation knows it is also a family endeavor, and my family hasn’t been one of those behind the scenes families either, but my daughters and my wife have been out front leaders. Bonnie Ashing, whom you all know I met in kindegarden and who also was graduated from McLain, is my first and deepest co-conspirator and my teacher. Besides being the director of our community gardenpark and orchard now, her commitment to justice and healing in all its forms has shaped our family’s decisions to always go where the need is. And her experiences of overcoming classism and sexism to become a physician in the first place, and then to take on the systems that seek to take the health out of health care for the most vulnerable—in other words to repeatedly beat your head against brick walls because you think another world is possible—that has shaped the risks I have been empowered to take.

And my father I have often said was my first justice role model for his commitment to integration and public schools and the northside at a time when many others were engaged in the racism of segregation and white flight and re-segregation. As a coach of one of the first integrated basketball teams in Tulsa, he also showed me how to lead a team and keep focused on mission. And both of my sisters are some of our best partners.

Thank you to Father Dan Allen. I am blessed to serve an area that begins near the intersection of Dan Allen Blvd. and Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd. It is by the way an intersection of life and resistance and yet one with a lot of possibilities and needs for transformation. As is the vacant area and neighborhood where St. Jude’s Catholic Church used to be. Reclaiming these areas should be how we all seek to honor the spirit of Dan Allen and his own role model Dr. King.

Finally, let me take this opportunity to mention just a little something about the 3Rs of community development that are the foundation of our Foundation. Relocation, Reconciliation, Redistribution. Borrowed from the work of the Mississippi African American civil rights and community renewal leader and author and pastor John Perkins.

We believe that all our neighbors should want to and be able to remain in our area; not that they should want to leave it in order to attain something called The Good Life or the American Dream, and that they should be able to do so without undue hardship and scarcity and abandonment all around them. We have been able to do what we have done so far because we have had a team that included people who have remained in our area, and people like Bonnie and I who have returned to the area with a commitment to remain, and people who have relocated to our area on purpose for justice and to help others remain here. There are many ways for people to relocate to our area with their passions and their presence and their pocketbooks, and while we believe that actually living here is the best blessing and learning experience you can receive and give, we encourage people, as it says in scripture, to “come and see.”

All of what we do is aimed at the second R, Reconciliation, especially because of the history of our area, reconciliation among people of all ethnicities, and as the Good Friday killings showed us where all but one of the victims and both of the shooters lived in our far north area, it is not just the history of our area, but in fact is a growing immediate concern that people are becoming more polarized by race and by income and education level and mass incarceration of poor and people of color. When people separate from one another the most vulnerable suffer.

The way we strive to counter this is by the third R, Redistribution, of both goods and the Common Good, both of which are lacking. It is why we are involved in everything from basic food for the hungry to working for educational justice to addressing voting disparities and neighborhood blight. This is what separates us from many a non-profit agency; it is our great strength and our struggle; that we purposefully do not have a single focus area of concern and action; instead our neighbors and their needs set our agenda and focus. What we all need the most are good neighbors who know that community matters most, and as the theologian Jorgen Moltmann said: the opposite of poverty is not wealth, but the opposite of both poverty and wealth is community. So we try to connect and create more resources, to tap into the ones just below the surfaces in people’s own lives, and by doing so to help sustain what some call our Fourth R which is Resiliency.

We do all of this poorly. We make many mistakes. We have much to learn. We have so much room to grow and become. I think Father Dan would understand. But we are ever grateful for the lives we are blessed to bump into, and hope we can inspire others as much as we have been inspired by these lives that never get listened to much let alone get awards. Thanks for ours and we promise to let the folks in the 74126 and 74130 know it is for them.
Oh and the need is great and your contribution to our work at keeps us going, literally, keeps us growing (support our greenhouse project underway now to help us feed people year round with healthy food); all of your end of the year tax deductible donations will go 100 percent into the missions of growing healthy lives and neighborhoods here.

A Thank You to the OU Graduate Social Work Dept (and many other unsung heroes), Or The Real Reason You Haven't Heard About Why The Life Expectancy Gap Between Here and South Tulsa Has Narrowed But At 10 Plus Years Is Still Outrageous

In posts below under Our Community Blog you will read about the recent study showing a narrowing of the infamous 14 year life expectancy gap between here in the 74126 and in South Tulsa, narrowing down to an equally outrageous 10.7 years gap. What I want to detail out here is about the real heroes not mentioned by many in the media for this narrowing. And as I have just been talking about this with OU grad social work students, I want to spend a little time lifting up the impact by the Grad Social Work Dept. and others at OU for being a part of the narrowing, and supporting those who have been doing the work narrowing the gap. I could do the same for many of the others I mention, and so many more, in the original post on the gap narrowing that was published here in the link below. 
I have had as usual a wonderful time talking with the OU Graduate Social Work classes this week (next one will be on Saturday morning, Sept. 26), introducing our story, personal and about the foundation and our work, and especially teaching about our area and health disparities, voter disparities, housing disparities, food justice disparities, civic health and engagement, environmental racism and injustice, and the ways big and small that far north Tulsa has born the brunt of racism and classism in particular that has been a prime factor in the rise of poverty and its affects in our area; also on the emotional side of how shame paralyzes both residents who live here and those who might help by moving here or helping from where they are and along with the survival mode of deep poverty keeps people isolated from one another. 
Always so much more to say. I try not to forget to talk about our area's strengths and the resiliency of our folks and what they have to teach others, and do, and have had fun telling some stories out of the many about that. I Enjoyed talking about our approach of being an "anti-agency" and of the ways particularly that the social work dept at OU in partnership with us has made such a dent in that life expectancy gap. I went to celebrate with them the news and to mourn that we still have such wide health disparities, disparities that are all linked together. 
Here then in what is written below is just one window into why the gap has narrowed; I can and should go into the details for how all the other grassroots groups and relationships here are producing results: (and I don't want to downplay the institutional big investments that have been made recently, but as I said in the post below they are very needed but have a limited scope no matter how much is invested in them; studies have shown that the social determinants are what extends lives and enriches them, and those are what social work and ministry and teachers and law enforcement and businesses and activists and various nonprofits and causes on the ground in the 74126 by the 74126 for the 74126 are a part of creating. For these social determinants are effective because they are all about building and growing relationships among the people, and between the people and others; and that takes long time committment, and it requires out of the box ways to connect and connect with people in poverty and oppression. For more on this, see the link to the work we did with Lead North on civic engagement and trust; as well as the research we did with OU on health care and trust that I mention below and is posted on about three or four years ago when we did the research.) 
BUT CONSIDER THIS: OU Social Work Dept. and its links to other OU partners have helped us in these WOW ways.
1. do our Community Forums to begin it all
2. helped bring in the OU Health Clinic to our space before there was a health department or OSU clinic or OU Tisdale clinic
3. Set up our Foundation and its Board Retreats
4. Cast the vision with us and helped initial promotional efforts for our Community GardenPark Welcome Table Garden Park and Orchard
5. Helped start our Free Food Store pantry program with the Food Bank.
6. Re-Greened our Area with 600 trees through us after the 2007 Ice Storm
7. Brought in medical students to hear about social determinants of health in our area. And collaborated on coming up with disruptive innovation to the health status quo by looking at ways mentiond below to decentralize the delivery of health care and build up the economic and relational base of the community; we were going for an X Prize but that didnt work, but it shaped our learning.
8. Three years of social work interns here. One with the community center beginning; one with a focus on food justice; one with a focus on new forms of health care
9. A 2009 Nutrition Study of our area that showed 60 percent of residents cannot afford healthy food and other important data on food justice and health outcomes
10. A 2013 study of ours and two other food pantries as part of the Choices Study that showed how much intense food insecurity, ie hunger, is in those who come to us, and how the food we give out is so important but also not the healthiest food they need, but provides the calories they need to get by, and how much mental illness affects our neighbors whom we related with, and who help us.
11. Helped us come up with that still wonderful but laying fallow pilot project to not rely on clinics for health care (especially needed since Oklahoma did not expand Medicaid, by hiring people from our zip codes here and training them to be neighborhood lay health advocates, engaged in research with us to show its efficacy.
12. When Cherokee School Closed here, the OU Graduate Design STudio did a community based school building repurposing project that was later used to back up the current reopening as a public charter school. The Design Studio also helped come up with the initial plan that helped fundraise for our gardenpark and orchard
13. Each semester the classes take on both "small but important projects helping at the community center and gardenpark" and looking at research into the broad topics that we deal with, and come up with plans and innovations tried in other areas and consider how we can use them here. Lately focused on mental health and teen pregnancy and other issues of connecting with people, of street lights and sidewalks (i will post on later).
SO WOW, right? This is how you narrow the life expectancy gap, and it is being done also by other groups right here in the neighborhoods. 
I know I am forgetting some other of the great partnerships with them that have brought hope and new energy into far north, and have contributed to that all important social determinants of health that have the highest impact on extending life expectancy. We are always trying for new partnerships, deeper relationships, for so much work and renewal that still is needed here. Stay tuned for more.
It is a privilege to tell each new class coming in about the great work and its impact here. And for them to see what is possible when neighbors themselves come together and dream and learn and take action in a high poverty area can without paid positions and struggles financial and with revolving leadership and working against the great viewpoints of apathy despair and scarcity; and for them to see all that has been done has been done not only by passionate people without pay (imagine what could be done with it?) but also by a very few people. I hope we boggled minds and continue to do so. .


Our 74126 Zipcode LIfe Expectancy Gap Narrows Over Past Eight Years We Have Been Open

Celebration and Committment!!!!! From just under 14 years to just over 10 and a half year life expectancy gap between here in the 74126 and the 74137 out south since the Levin Study of eight years ago; not coincidentally it was eight years ago that we did our missional transformation and began A Third Place Community Center and hosted the OU Community Health Clinic and followed by the Foundation and the gardenpark and orchard and the community center, and three years ago with the arrival of the Tulsa Health Dept. Wellness Center here in our zipcode; and now with all of our formerly closed school buildings back in use as schools.

We were expecting this news, and the gap to narrow as the report was about to be released. Several big things happening since 2007; we think in a way here in the 74126 we have been one of the best kept secrets working on this, even though the decline and abandonment continues, and the lack of medicaid expansion still hurts us. But it shows again that truth (also documented by OU and the Dartmouth Study the OU physicians went to up in NH, that social determinants of health, the communities of people live in, the hope, the allies, etc. they have, are more vital to life expectancy itself than clinic access and clinic medicine though of course that is vital too (why I only half joke with my physician spouse that she does more healing at the community gardenpark and orchard and community center than in her clinic work :)). That 10 and a half year gap remains. One quick way to eliminate it is to get healthy people, civic groups, businesses, etc. to move into the 74126 as did the Tulsa Health Dept.
See important links in the comments below.

To understand more about the social determinants of health and especially our area, see my article here

Please share this post and my comments. blessings, thanks for all you who have been walking and working with us and others in the 74126 these past eight years. This is for you too.


Going Deeper Into the Oklahoma Voter Facebook Meme

It is not just low voter numbers, but look closer at the numbers themselves and you will see the huge gaps reflecting who votes and who doesn’t based on income and ethnicity. Not only did a small number of people elect the political leaders last year, but those small number were the whitest and the wealthiest.

I have been tracking and analyzing and commenting on voter disparities and we were a partner at the recent Voting Is Power Summit where our report was part of the report given on voting and civic health and physical and mental health disparities and the connections between them all. You can see all the details at our website under the community blog posts on voting. Here is a quick summary to go along with the meme map going around.

Our area of Tulsa’s northside is part of the low life expectancy high poverty zipcodes. In our two mile service area radius of far north we have 7 precinct polling places. They cover some or all of four zipcodes; first this compares to one zipcode in south Tulsa, 74133, which has 15 precinct polling places just within its one zipcode. Distance to polling places is further apart for those who are poorer and with fewer transportation options. 

In our immediate 7 precinct area, there were only 2,036 votes cast (of these the losing candidate for Governor, the Democrat, won by 1,723 to 263, or with 84.6 percent; compare that with Tulsa County’s 40.3 percent to the Democrat (the Repubican victor has 56.9 percent county wide). The vast majority which did vote voted for the losing candidate, with the resulting effect of less political influence, voice, representation of concerns, etc. That 2,036 vote reflects 25.1 percent of registered voters in the 7 precincts, or only one out of four registered voters (not to mention, as the facebook meme does, the total number of adult citizens eligible to vote).

The2,036 vote turnout in our total 7 precincts in our service boundaries, with some of the lowest percentage turnout, also compares to the eight precincts in just the one midtown zip code, 74114, which has the highest percentage turnout, and highest life expectancy, and which cast 5,379 votes. That is 63 percent more votes cast in one zipcode than in all of the all or parts of four zipcodes in our far north area. My precinct in far north Tulsa in the 74126 had the lowest turnout percentage, 20 percent, or only one in five registered in our precinct; compared to one precinct in the 74114 which had almost 50 percent turnout (thirty percent turnout gap) and the whole 74114 zipcode with its eight precincts had a turnout rate of 45.5 percent. There is an ethnic component as well. The 74126, and particularly my precinct in it,  precinct nine, has one of the highest African American percentages of Tulsa zipcodes, while The 74114 has one of the highest white percentages.  

Looking beyond our far north context to all of North Tulsa: there are another 21 precincts in all of North Tulsa for a total of 28 precincts for North Tulsa compared to 177 total for Tulsa (not counting the ones covering other cities and areas in Tulsa County as a whole, but just concentrated in the city limits basically). That gives North Tulsa some 16 percent of the total number of precincts for the approximate whole city area; or the other three geographic sides of the city have 84 percent of the voting precincts, and so even with a much higher voter turnout on the northside, if there is a concurrent higher vote turnout elsewhere in the city will result in the northside continuing to be statistically left out of city-wide issues and votes (not to mention voting on the losing side of issues and elections). That reality feeds the cynicism and despair which feeds, among other factors, the low turnout.

Overall North Tulsa area, mostly incorporated city of Tulsa but includes some unincorporated adjacent to Tulsa City and includes the areas of northeast Tulsa where there is a higher white percentage than in near North and far North sections, there is An overall Total of 30,197 registered voters. Of that amount, 8,199 voted, or 27.1 percent turnout, a little more than one in four.

By the way, That most populous zipcode, the 74133 in south Tulsa, with 15 precincts in it alone, accounts for 20,505 registered voters (that alone equals two thirds of the total vote in all of North Tulsa); and in the latest election, in the 74133 zip, some 7,760 voted; if just 439 more people had voted in the 74133 of south Tulsa then it would have equaled the total vote turnout for ALL of North Tulsa zipcodes. 

As is, its turnout amounted to 37.8 percent of those registered in the 74133 zipcode; that ten percent gap higher than all of North Tulsa turnout, and almost 13 percent higher than far north turnout, is less overall than the thirty percent gap between the highest and lowest precinct turnout, but it is still significant.  

Raising consciousness is the first part of the response; this is mostly what this analysis does. Looking at a wide variety of reform measures, and improving the civic health of North Tulsa in general, is where to turn next. Better Voter information, better transportation options, more polling places in high poverty areas, uniform polling places in each part of town open to any regardless of where they live, mobile polling places, allowing more felons to vote and more publicity to let eligible felons know they can register and vote already, default registration, and a host of other reform initiatives working in others areas. 


Voting Is Power Summit Report: Disparities, Poverty, and Civic Engagement Struggles and Opportunities

Voting Is Power Summit: Aug. 22, 2015

A Report on Voting Disparities and Civic Engagement: Analysis prepared by Ron Robinson for our Lead North Class Project with Leadership Tulsa

Major Points: We have a 14 year life expectancy gap between north and south Tulsa (OU Levin Study). Physical health is often greatly affected by a community’s civic health as part of the “social determinants of health” which account, along with genetic components, for some 80 percent of life expectancy (OU Community Health, Dartmouth Study report). And civic health is greatly reflected in, and affected by, VOTING. It is no surprise then to see that disparities in life expectancy track along with disparities in voting turnout between north and south Tulsa.

Overview: In the Nov. 2014 general election, 27.1 percent of all registered voters in North Tulsa voted. One precinct in far north 74126 had the lowest turnout at 20 percent. By comparison, one zipcode in midtown, with highest life expectancy and lowest population of African Americans and Hispanics, the 74114, had 45.5 percent; one of the precincts in that zipcode has 49 percent turnout, the highest. So a near 30 percent gap between highest in midtown and lowest in North Tulsa. Even in the recent mostly northside state senate election in Dist. 11, there was inordinate unequal distribution of turnout percentage within that District as well; so even within areas of the northside, some precincts have more electoral voice than others.

 Access to Polling Physical Locations: There are seven precincts covering all or parts of four zipcodes in Far North compared to eight precincts in just one Midtown Zipcode 74114 and even 15 precincts in just one South Tulsa zipcode, 74133. The precincts therefore are further spread out on the north side than on the south side; this at the same time that poverty and sickness on the north side make transportation more difficult and inequitable as well. One precinct in Far North does not have a polling place within its boundaries, basically north of 66th St. and must go to another precinct location to vote.

North Tulsa precincts count for only some 16 percent of all precincts in Tulsa; this means even if there were 100 percent turnout in all precincts, other areas would account for 84 percent of any vote. The ability to make electoral decisions that affect a poverty and low life expectancy area in city wide elections and concerns, therefore, make it difficult for the northside to have the same electoral clout; this inability in turn feeds into the cynicism that leads itself to lower voter participation.

This disparity is not the only reason for low voter turnout on the northside, ( for example, the effects of mass incarceration on the poor and people of color and the percentage of felons and ex felons living in different areas needs to be statistically analyzed; and the promotion of the law about felons being able to vote needs to be promoted in areas of high felon residency; just one additional reason), but residents of the northside are statistically poorer and sicker and that makes it harder for us overall to access all institutions of civic life, including the key one of voting. It shows the result of basing polling places primarily on the number of residents in an area, for not all residents and not all areas are equal in resources. If you take the bus across town to work and back and have family to attend to, for example, on election day it makes getting to a designated polling place more difficult for those in poverty, especially given inadequate public transportation.

It also points up the need for one proposal to have locations established in each area of the city where residents could vote regardless of where they live; other proposals for increasing access, such as mobile polling places, are also available over a long term effort to turnaround multi generational voting patterns.

Another historic factor that is affecting civic engagement and health in North Tulsa has been the redistricting of state representative and state senate seats; over the past 40 years, even in the past five years, the amount of geography that is included in the representative area for example of Dist 72 has grown tremendously; what once in the 1960s for example was a boundary area that was included within the far northside area itself, so that residents had greater access to elected officials and more common to live closer themselves to the representative, and yet now the same district representative is covering all the way from the TU area, near to the Cherry Street area, all through north Tulsa all the way to downtown Owasso area and covering the town of Sperry itself; this stretching out of the physical boundaries affects again the ability of people in poverty to be in contact with the representative.

eeting, but as many will not be there, and one of the findings is that people don't "go to meetings" for social capital, it is important to share and discuss online so share and discuss away. I will try to present it in better format another day.

Community Benchmark Survey Summary Findings, April, 2015
Lead North (North Tulsa Development Council/Leadership Tulsa) Class Six Working Group 3

Analysis by
Ron Robinson

People in several North Tulsa zipcodes die 14 years sooner than those in nearby midtown and south Tulsa zipcodes;
a key ingredient of life expectancy and physical and mental health is what is known as "social ingredients of health, which along with genetics account for 80 percent of a person's health, much more than health clinic access along though that is vital;
a key social ingredient is social capital and civic engagement, where for example health is grown and shared;
a key indicator of civic engagement is voting; North Tulsa turnout for voting is at times half of what it is in South Tulsa.

How to grow civic health as a means to personal health (realizing the catch-22 that personal health issues contribute to being able to grow civic health).
See appendix below for previous reports on voter disparities.

Analysis by Ron Robinson
1. Worked on community project last year: 1-2 times 28.4 percent; 0=27.10; so more than half, 55.5 percent, on two or less; But for more than 15 times the result is 18.69 percent. A corollary question: How many times volunteered: 1-2 times 27.1 and zero 17.7 percent, so 44.8, close to half, only volunteered for anything two or fewer times a year; but the 15 or more times category was second highest at 19.6 percent.
Analysis: a disparity among community participation: verifies the 20-80 percent rule; twenty percent do 80 percent of the community participation; shows the reliance on a few, which increases fragility in an already fragile community.

2. Attended a Public Meeting where community issues addressed past year: 1-2 times: 37.3, 0: 28.9, so two third, 66.2 percent, attended any public meeting only two or fewer times. And 15.8 percent 3-5 times; so 82 percent attended any public meeting five or fewer times.
Analysis: Face to Face civic encounters are minimal. We did not ask for online civic discussion or advocacy of issues; need to see how public forums have shifted from f2f to social media communities.

3. Particularly political meetings or rallies: 82.2 percent two or fewer times, almost two thirds zero times.
Analysis: political involvement becomes not a public manifestation, but an affinity activity, which tends to promote polarization rather than moderation.

4. Any club or organizational meeting: 38.3 percent said zero; 18.6 1-2 times, so 56.9 for two or less; 10.2 percent said more than 15 times (see above for disparity of participation analysis)

5. Any meeting at neighborhood school: 44.8 percent said none, and 22.4 said one or two, so more than two thirds, 67.2 percent, had not been to a meeting in one of the most public of local spaces. Analysis: Schools have lost status as community connector, and are untapped local resource for “other than school” related connections to build up community engagement which is vital to the support of the schools themselves.

6. Friends over to your home in past year: leading category was more than 15 times, 24.3, though the other end of the spectrum, zero times (13 percent) and 1 or two times (15.8) equaled 28.8 percent.

Analysis: We need more detailed look to see if there is a grouping between those who go to the most public meetings and have fewest friends over to their home, or the most friends over; that would be a good dynamic to know; for example, one hypothesis is that people substitute personal for public relationships. “Bridges Out of Poverty” work [Dr. Ruby Payne] teaches us that In generational poverty areas like ours in the North Tulsa zipcodes, personal relationships and the ability to express individual personality is one of the resources people have in place of financial resources; therefore, public meetings usually are built upon and promote public rather than personal relationships and engagements (compare an agenda, with pre-planning and an order to follow at a school setting—where authority and exclusion triggers might exist—compared to “having friends drop by”, and yet the latter is the place where information is shared and decisions made;
Additionally 40.1 percent, highest category response, eat five meals or more together with their family. Due not only to cost of eating out, but it is a normally controlled location
In addition, poverty culture favors immediate action, the present is the most important time, and are in survival mode, intimate relationships and only being with people they like, and entertainment; public civic engagement meetings are often not structured for that.

7. How many times in the home of someone of a different race the past year: both 1-2 times and 3-5 times tied for most responses at 24.3 percent each, with zero accounting for 18.6 percent. [Remember this survey taken in an area with highest ethnicity being African American, followed by white, then Hispanic, American Indian, etc.; so while African Americans are the dominant culture in the area itself, of course they are a minority culture within the overall region.]
8. How many times get outside of your neighborhood into the home of someone in a different neighborhood past year? (We did not delineate the term neighborhood, and we found many people did not know the name of their neighborhood, or what might constitute it; so a different neighborhood might be on the other side of a major street but in an area very similar to their own on the northside; should probably specify being in a home of someone on the south, east, or west part of Tulsa, or suburb.). The most prevalent answer was 1-2 times, 24.3 percent, followed by 3-5 times 21.5, and 16.8 percent more than 15 times. Analysis: They are more host into their own home, than they are guest in someone else’s. This too connects with issues of personal relational safety and survival culture. It also indicates that simply holding “public issue” meetings in a home will not get perhaps the same response as engaging the issue within the home of each.
Connected to this, then, also is the response below on how people would like to receive information about the community: 50.4 percent, the largest category response by far was for mail (comes directly to home).
9. How many times in the past year have you been in the home of someone you consider to be a community leader: by far zero times, 57 percent followed by 1-2 times, 23.3 percent—so 80.3 percent two or fewer. Analysis: community leaders are cutting ourselves off from the primary location for our resident’s engagement. And some two-thirds are not self-labeled community leaders serving with a group.
10. How often do you attend religious service? Every week or more often was the highest response at 27.1 percent, followed by almost every week, 16.8. Analysis: shows the importance of the church community on the northside for being a vehicle for civic information, but perhaps not for engagement with those diverse from one’s self.
On the other hand, like other civic groups, the religious ones are fragile as well, as when asked how much money is spent on religious organizations and to “causes” the most prevalent category was under $100 with 35.5 percent, and zero being third at 16.8 percent; 100-500 dollars was 19.6 percent.

11. When we look at people indicating an interest in public and political issues: 26.9 percent very interested was main response; and 25 percent somewhat interested was the second highest. An overwhelming 75 percent said they were registered to vote. 5.7 percent didn’t know. 50.9 percent said they had voted in the past year, but 14.4 percent said they didn’t know. 54.8 percent said they had no challenges in voting, but 26.9 percent said not knowing enough about the candidates or issues hindered their voting.
Analysis: We were tapping into a selected niche of residents who voted (because the turnout statistics which are hard and fast indicate a difference) or people are misestimating their voting patterns, which indicates they know it is a value.
Also, knowledge about a candidate can be correlated with the location of receiving that knowledge, and the propensity mentioned above, to form relationships intimately and personally; impersonal appeals and info might not connect with our residents as personal connections will, and yet the geographic disparity of different legislative districts drawn after the censuses show how much harder it is for candidates on the northside with much more distance within their districts to make such personal intimate relationships.

12 Trust factors as a foundation for community engagement and civic health:
the biggest percentages trust national and local governments some of the time (more than hardly ever, less than most of the time); the respondents btw described themselves as middle of the road in political matters as the highest percent category (24.1) with moderate and liberal Democrat accounting for 21.1 percent.
Almost two-thirds lean on the mistrustful side of people in general (you cant be too careful, which is a contributing factor to lack of participation in civic matters: 63.4 percent answered that, and 7.6 percent answering I don’t know).
People in neighborhood: trust some was highest category (33.6)
The police: trust them some highest category (43.2 percent) with 36.5, more than a third, trusting them not at all or only a very little bit.
People working in stores, and trust level of the schools: trust them some was highest response
Different race/ethnicity trust levels: trust some was top category across the board.

Analysis: To increase social capital with those whom we don’t know, our own neighbors living near us or in North Tulsa in general even, requires a growing level of trust, which is built on being able to feel safe in order to be authentic and vulnerable, which is a requirement for being able to take on teamwork (see for example Patrick Lencioni’s work on effective teams); this is especially so, and a challenge, for those who connect most frequently and easily in their own homes and in settings that are conducive to their cultural strengths, and acknowledge how they interact and share with one another. Our potential in North Tulsa is that we have the inherent cultural and ethnic diversity among our residents to be creative and to be a “learning community”, but that very diversity can be a challenge to our trust levels; we need to continue growing in trust with others who are different from us (moving main trust category from some to most of the time).
The strengths found within our high level of “poverty culture or class” (resourcefulness in the face of few resources, thinking outside the box, knowing how to survive, loyalty, etc. [Bridges out of Poverty]) can be our own weaknesses when social capital and civic engagement is still predicated on “middle class/educated class cultures” that make it hard for us internally to interact with them (on top of the institutional classism/racism issues of not being invited to the table, not having the means to take off work to get to meetings, having to rely on friends, family, public transportation, not having child care, etc.).
Conversely, the challenge and potential is how to take these “weaknesses” and use them, and connect them with new media and the culture of new generations (favoring local action, relational, experiential, participative, communal) in order to better connect one with another.

Our snapshot responder was female, 47.5 years old, African-American, who has completed only a high school education, making less than $30,000 a year, who has never been married, who owns her own home (43 percent did, but 40 percent didn’t).

Next Steps:
1. The resident survey to listen to people was a pilot limited project. We need to improve it and institutionalize it through an ongoing online presence and another period of f2f surveys, ideally rotating the f2f aspect through different parts of North Tulsa each year so we can go in depth into the diverse areas of the northside, producing results that will be most beneficial to residents and groups in those specific areas.

2. Focus Group followup with selected survey respondents to add nuance and clarity and more understanding than from only the survey data itself.

3. A community leader online survey geared to tracking what leaders in North Tulsa are experiencing in their groups regarding civic engagement; what are they trying that works, doesn’t work, how are they doing with self-care, with growing or maintaining or losing their own resiliency and being leaders who create more leaders. This would have the crucial side-benefit of creating a self-selected broad-based directory of community groups/leaders in North Tulsa. Right now there are many who don’t know about others; there are community leaders who are “under the radar”; the under-resourced area itself is mirrored in under-resourced organizations and groups leading to the fragility of the area. We wouldn’t be determining who is a leader or not, but if someone can identify a group, small or large, organized or not, of which they are a part in North Tulsa then that constitutes leadership and their work needs recorded.

4. Ultimate strategy result is to have an ongoing Civic Health Index, just as we now have with the Tulsa County Health and Wellness Index each year that tracks primarily medical health. Civic Health is perhaps a pivotal part of overall Health; those who are more engaged in a community’s civic life are more apt to have access and use existing health resources, just as having a healthy family and being personally healthy is a key factor in being able to be civically engaged as well.

5. To do this will take partnerships with others beyond North Tulsa as well. We can see partnerships for this, as have been done in other places in the country, with universities, with government planners, with those concerned with Health (it is in many ways all geared to creating healthier citizens for a healthier community and eliminating that 14 year life expectancy gap).

6. We end on a positive high note of how some of our work and some of this area of interest is already having a life of its own beyond our Class. Our Community Benchmark Survey will be part of a breakout session at a planned Voter Engagement Summit on Saturday August 22 at Rudisill Library. Part of the discussion is on the voting turnout disparity analysis for the northside, and the way precincts, as one example, are more spread out in the poorer areas where people already have a harder time of transportation. Already being discussed by officials are some possible solutions such as creating fixed voting centers in each part of the area where people could vote regardless of where they live, so that people on the northside who may work on the southside could vote during the day on the southside to make it more convenient for them. Partnerships and proposals like this will come out of the ongoing listening to residents and leaders that would be part of a North Tulsa Civic Health Index. If our own teamwork is an indication, contemplating the elements of the survey itself raises it to our consciousness and commitment.

For more on the details of voter disparities and access to polling:
The Community Benchmark Study in Far North Tulsa by Lead North Class

Our class in 2014-15 looked at the broad area of building social capital and civic engagement on the northside. We did a pilot project of a civic health survey that looked at how connected people seemed to be and feel with their community and one another. Below are some of the initial finds and analysis we did of the results, but our major finding is that this kind of survey needs to be institutionalized with someone who can keep promoting it each year so that it helps to lead not only to better connections and information itself but can result in an annual Tulsa Civic Health Index for the Northside such as the Tulsa Health Department issues for its Overall Physical and Mental Health indexes. A followup survey would also help the survey itself to grow in quality and depth.

1.      We found that some residents are very connected to community but most are not, following the proverbial 20-80 rule; some 20 percent of respondents were accounting for some 80 percent of the community meeting and other engagement measures. In an already fragile environment this burden on leaders is especially not healthy; burnout that can and does happen anywhere can be exarcebated in fragile environments.

2.      Face to Face community meeting involvement was therefore low; more than 80 percent attending five or fewer broad umbrellas of community meetings events. We did not ask about online community engagement, however, and through facebook particularly and various community groups that has become a growing place of civic engagement, with its own sets of pros and cons and issues.

3.      More than two thirds had not been to any community meeting inside their neighborhood public schools. This was seen as an opportunity since the school buildings are a community resource, and the more community is connected with the schools even from meetings and events in them than the more support the schools are likely to receive.

4.      One of the highest percentages of engagement came in the realm of having people over to one’s house, even family and friends; as public meeting attendance dwindled and people looked for safer environments emotionally the role of personal relationships has increased. At the same time, almost no people reported ever having been invited into the home of a broadly defined community leader. Shifting the location of where civic engagement occurs, both online and to smaller and more intimate settings, is likely to reap bigger results. (see recent studies about changing people’s attitudes on social issues due to personal relationships and door to door discussions).

5.      We found that very few people reported having people over to their house or going to the house of someone of a different race or ethnicity or with someone from a different neighborhood.

6.      We found that people did attend in highest percentages the community institution of their faith community; at the same time when asked about how much they support their faith community, the most prevalent answer was very little; again a few supporting the institution, which in fragile communities makes those institutions more fragile.

7.      More survey results need to be done on voting attitudes, but our respondents self reported that they were interested in political issues, and fifty percent said they had voted, and most said they had few barriers to voting, but the most often cited ones were about lack of information about elections and about the candidates; their not knowing led to not voting; they also said, in keeping with the safety factor of receiving community information, that they preferred to get political information through the mail directly to their home.

8.      Finally we asked people trust questions, as trust in neighbors and institutions is key to civic engagement; two thirds were mistrustful in general of others. When asked to choose from a variety of responses about how much they trusted institutions, the schools and the people working in the local stores (not necessarily the stores themselves as a business) received the highest trust scores; which might show the necessity again of where to conduct civic engagement, voter registration etc drives and events. We asked about trust across ethnic lines, and the uniform answer was that people trust others of other ethnicities “some” of the time which was a response just a little on the positive side of the spectrum of choices to respond.

9.      Building necessary trust to work together in civic engagement is key; we have on the northside the diversity which creates opportunities for deep rather than superficial engagement, but we need to look at how safe environments we are creating for it. Also in areas of high poverty and social underclasses, the ways that people and groups and institutions try to engage with residents might be counter-productive and class based, assuming that all have familiarity with a kind of meeting that is like a college lecture setting, with little interactivity, and little ways of establishing personal intimate relationships during the meetings; not doing so continues to drive people away from civic engagement, those whom need it perhaps the most.

10.  Our typical respondent was a 47.5 year old African American making less than $30,000 a year, who has never been married and perhaps owns her own home.


Next Steps To The Survey:

Continue to refine it. Find an institutional online home for it.

Form focus groups to go into deeper discussion and nuance on its findings.

Create a more specific survey of defined community leaders in order to track their and their organizations struggles, their strengths, their learnings of what is working and not working in civic engagement on the ground from their perspectives

Through it create a Civic Health Report on the Northside that could be issued annually ala the Tulsa Wellness Report by the Health Dept.