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The human cost of expensive homes

April 16, 2019

Lack of affordable housing is key in homelessness issue, ASU experts say

Easing the problem of homelessness will require communities to build more affordable housing, and that will require creating a new narrative with people who oppose it, according to two Arizona State University experts.

“We need to get businesses, public safety, education and neighborhood groups on board,” said Joanna Lucio, associate dean of academic affairs and an associate professor in the School of Public Affairs.

She has researched community members who oppose affordable housing.

“We often say to them, ‘How can we assure you it won’t hurt you?’ Instead I want to say, ‘How can you be welcoming?’ ‘What do we need to do to create a community here?’”

Lucio spoke at a talk titled “Who Are Our Neighbors in Need? Homelessness and Affordable Housing in Our Community” at the Arizona Heritage Center in Tempe on Tuesday. 

She addressed the issue of affordable housing, while Melissa Kovacs, associate director for research at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, gave details about homelessness, which has increased.

Every January, volunteers spend a night counting people who are experiencing homelessness in shelters or on the streets, called a “point-in-time census.”

The total number of homeless people in Maricopa County was 5,605 in 2017, and it was 6,298 in 2018. And in that time, the number who were unsheltered — sleeping in a park or in a car — increased 12%, she said. About 1,100 were children.

A map of the Valley showed a dot for every person experiencing homelessness.

“I think the message here is that they were spread all around the county,” Kovacs said. “They were essentially everywhere they could be sleeping.”

In a survey of clients at the Human Services Campus in Phoenix, 40% said they were in debt, but 40% have a regular income. More than a third said they had been attacked or beaten up.

“Violence is a part of the life of experiencing homelessness,” she said.

Lucio said that lack of affordable housing is one reason for homelessness.

“There’s a lack of supply: wait lists for subsidized units, not enough shelter space and little support for transitional housing,” she said.

“I’ve been studying this for 14 years, and it always comes back to this.”

The impact of homelessness is encampments in parks and public spaces, leading to security expenses for businesses and arrests for the people experiencing homelessness. 

Many cities have passed “nuisance laws,” such as outlawing sitting on a sidewalk. 

“Something I’ve been working on is this ‘othering’ effect,” she said. “People who are experiencing homelessness are our neighbors. When we create nuisance laws, it’s dehumanizing — ‘They’re over there, and we’re over here.’”

Some communities have embraced permanent supportive housing, which also offers a lot of services. The city of Albuquerque, New Mexico, did so and saw spending on homelessness and incarceration reduced by 64%, she said. 

Lucio has talked to people who moved into affordable housing that was set aside for them, and they felt out of place in their neighborhoods. 

“I saw how that latent opposition affected them,” she said. 

“I want to do more than just put people into housing. I want to create communities.”

This talk was in conjunction with the exhibit at the Arizona Heritage Center called, “I Have a Name,” a collection of black-and-white portraits of people living on the streets by art photographer Jon Linton. Linton included bits of his conversations with his subjects in the accompanying text. Eugene, 63, said that he had been on the streets for a third of his life and missed listening to music. Billie, 53, panhandled in Tempe and told Linton: “You know, I’m homeless, but I am still a human being.”

Top photo: Melissa Kovacs (right), associate director for research at the Morrison Institute for Public Policy, and Associate Professor Joanna Lucio, associate dean of academic affairs, discuss homelessness and affordable housing at the Arizona Heritage Center on Tuesday. They engaged the audience talking about the causes, demographics and solutions to the community problem. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now 

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


Sí, se puede! Maryvale mural unveiling brings community together

April 16, 2019

It’s a typically gorgeous spring morning in Phoenix. Families paint color on a drab brick wall as others visit nearby booths and food trucks. Cumbia music and announcements pump out of speakers overhead.

Shaded by tents are representatives from local organizations who talk to visitors about health, financial services and more. Serving as both a backdrop and a centerpiece of the scene is a giant, vibrant, colorful mural depicting an intergenerational Latinx family and the Maryvale community where the artwork resides. Crowd sits and stands in front of stage set up in front of mural Attendees gathered for the formal mural unveiling, with special guest speakers and representatives from the community partners who worked to make the mural a reality. Photo by Alexis Bojorquez Download Full Image

The March 31 event fittingly held on Cesar Chavez Day is the official unveiling of a mural by artist Isaac Caruso in collaboration with Arizona State University's School of Social Work, its Survivor Link AmeriCorps program, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions and community partner Chicanos Por La Causa (CPLC).

The 25-foot-tall and 130-foot-wide mural faces the CPLC’s Centro De La Familia, a community center in Maryvale located at 67th Avenue and Indian School Road. It was painted on the east-facing wall of the AAMCO building that shares the center’s parking lot.

The project was initially conceived by Seth Wilson, a Survivor Link student working to complete his Master of Social Work degree at ASU. Wilson currently interns at CPLC as a social work clinician and had the inspiration for the project while parking in front of the giant green wall next to the center.

“I was just, like, we need something that's more welcoming to our clients and staff and the community as a whole,” Wilson said.

Wilson collaborated with CPLC to develop the concept and connect with the artist, writing up a proposal that would serve as the thematic foundation of the artwork.

In it, he wanted to include Cesar Chavez, as well as a tie-in to CPLC's mission statement to help individuals become economically and politically empowered and self-sufficient a key component of which, Wilson felt, is family and community support.

“I wanted to include that, because you're all from a family, no matter what it looks like,” Wilson said.

About an hour into the festival, crowds gathered near a platform and podium set before the mural. Speakers included representatives from the School of Social Work and CPLC, local community activists and even Cesar Chavez’s former bodyguard, who served as emcee of the event.

Pedro Cons, executive vice president of integrated health and human services at CPLC, spoke to the many transformations Maryvale has experienced over the last 40 years. For him, the project and the partnerships with ASU all come down to community.

“We're very proud that we were able to come in and help with some of the revitalization of the community. And, a mural like this, I think, just brings a community together in a bigger way,” Cons said.

The theme of the day was what people can accomplish when they are empowered to positively shape their community, working both at the grassroots and community policy levels to achieve social justice.

Caruso was chosen due to his previous experience with murals, as well as managing and including volunteers as a part of the painting project.

Painting began on Martin Luther King Jr. Day an annual Day of Service for AmeriCorps members which made Cesar Chavez day a fitting bookend for a scene connected with themes of social justice. The 75 AmeriCorps members from the School of Social Work Survivor Link program came in shifts to assist with painting and helped to plan the unveiling community event.

“The image is a reminder of the strength and resilience of Latinx families and their positive role in the greater Phoenix community,” said Jill Messing, an associate professor in the ASU School of Social Work and director of the Office of Gender-Based Violence, which houses the Survivor Link program.

The project is indicative of how Watts College is engaging with the Maryvale community overall supporting and recognizing local efforts to bring to life collaborative initiatives like this mural. Watts, through the Maryvale One Square Mile Initiative, is seeking more opportunities to connect ASU’s programs and resources to create a positive and lasting impact on the community.   

Lisa Rolland-Keith

Communications Specialist, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Environment vs. economy: Outcomes can be win-win according to recent research

ASU professor's paper receives international recognition

April 16, 2019

Climate change is an ever-present and ever-pressing issue that has the attention of national and world leaders. On Nov. 23, 2018, the United States federal climate report was released. Several days later, U.N. world leaders met in Poland for two weeks of climate change negotiations. Scientists and researchers remain committed to finding solutions to one of the world’s greatest challenges.

Among them is Mark Roseland, professor and director of the School of Community Resources and Development, a unit of Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University. Roseland’s research article with colleagues Robert Newell and Ann Dale, both professors in the School of Environment and Sustainability at Royal Roads University in Canada, was recently recognized with the International Award for Excellence by the International Journal of Climate Change: Impacts and Responses. professionally dressed individual's leg touches brick pavement while pausing astride yellow community bicycle Photo by Yannis Papanastasopoulos on Unsplash Download Full Image

“This is a big deal because the award is from an international journal,” Roseland said. “Once a year, they select the best article from that year. So, to be honored by your peers like that is quite a substantial recognition.”

The article focuses on how climate action through integrated sustainability strategies can yield benefits for communities in more effective ways than through compartmentalized approaches.

One difficulty in addressing climate, noted Roseland, is tradeoffs — some real, some perceived. There is a pervasive notion that to take action in favor of the environment will cost more in another area, like the economy — two arenas often pitted against one another when discussing spending and allocation of resources.

The article, titled “Climate Action Co-benefits and Integrated Community Planning,” demonstrates that, at a community level, climate change adaptation can create co-benefits rather than tradeoffs, and that those benefits can generate a positive, self-perpetuating cycle.

Said Roseland, “That's the sweet spot. The old way of thinking is to pit energy efficiency, for example, against affordable housing, rather than recognizing that we have to address them both.”

With the new co-benefits way of thinking, Roseland offers, we can create win-win situations.

 stands in gray suit, smiling with arms folded across chest on the second floor of UCENT

Mark Roseland

One example is increasing the proportion of people taking public transit. This creates a positive cycle of reducing the number of cars on the road, relieving congestion, improving air quality, reducing obesity and improving public health.

The benefits can seem obvious when laid out in this context, but Roseland notes, “The way we account for them makes them seem hidden, because the transportation budget doesn't benefit when the health care budget decreases.”

Roseland also said this is the reason his research team focused on the community level, where the co-benefits are easier to see.

“When you wake up in the morning, you're not in the Department of Housing,” he said. “You don't go have breakfast in the Department of Agriculture, commute to work in the Department of Transportation, and then start your work day in the Department of Labor.”

Roseland added, “Our lives are messy and complicated, and all of these things are integrated and synergistic. And that's what we mean by co-benefits — that if we can think holistically, we can start to frame interventions and choices that benefit multiple dimensions of our lives.”

Lisa Rolland-Keith

Communications Specialist, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions


Students, professionals in parks and recreation team up for co-learning experience

April 15, 2019

College students, professionals and high school students came together to learn, network and tackle community problems at the third annual SPARK conference in March. The yearly event is coordinated by students within the Arizona State University School of Community Resources and Development with assistance from the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association and the Arizona State Therapeutic Recreation Association.

This year’s event theme, “It Takes a Village,” offered attendees a chance to learn how different professions have successfully worked together to build stronger communities and to apply their knowledge through case studies. Parks and recreation professionals and students stand in a circle on the grass for an activity-based workshop Parks and recreation professionals and students participate in an activity-based workshop. Download Full Image

Eric Legg, assistant professor in the school, a unit of Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, said the event provides an opportunity for students to interact with professionals and see how what they learn in school can be applied outside the classroom walls. “One of our major goals is to give students a chance to network and be mentored by professionals,” he said.

The one-day event began with a networking breakfast, followed by a choice of team-building activities or a professional panel. Attendees then came together for the opening session, where the keynote speaker, John Sefton, community services director for the city of Peoria, talked about the importance of passion in pursuing one’s career.

Ryanne Mueller, the Parks and Recreation Student Association president, noted that, “John’s engagement with the audience set the tone for the whole day. He lit up the room and visibly sparked passion within the students and professionals.” Following his address, event organizers honored Sefton with the SPARK award for his ongoing inspiration and support of students.

Following the keynote, attendees participated in their choice of various 20-minute educational sessions. Each session highlighted how individuals from different professional backgrounds such as tourism, nonprofit management and communications work together to build stronger communities.

After a networking lunch, attendees broke out for the culminating activity: case studies based on actual situations faced by cities and towns across Arizona. Students were provided with two options for the case studies and in each they applied their learning alongside professionals in the field. In one session, students competed against each other to see who could come up with the best solution. Staff from the city of Phoenix helped facilitate and judge this competition based on a rubric that included how well the solution incorporated different professional approaches. Students who wanted a more collaborative environment could choose a second session where multiple groups worked together on the same problem to develop the ideal solution.

“The case studies were definitely the best part of the day," said Wilber Valencia, a community sport management major. "It was fun to work together to come up with solutions to these problems.”

Over 100 students and professionals attended this year’s event, including students from a local high school.

“The inclusion of high school students this year was great for all of us," said Krista VanderMolen, deputy director of the Arizona Parks and Recreation Association. "They were excited to be paired with a college counterpart and were fully engaged throughout the day.”

As any conference planner can attest, it is no easy task, but Legg summed up the payoffs of events like the SPARK conference: “The planning process can be exhausting, but at the end of the day, seeing high school students, college students and professionals networking and learning from each other makes it all worth it.”

Summary provided by Eric Legg

Community partnership supports local teens in learning the ins and outs of courtroom procedure

April 15, 2019

During February and March, the Valley of the Sun YMCA in partnership with Arizona State University's Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions hosted its inaugural Youth and Government Judicial Conferences. During these conferences, over 70 teens from across Arizona learned courtroom procedure, how to take a case to trial and how to present both the prosecution and defense. Using the 2019 Youth and Government assigned case, students simulated a criminal trial proceeding, participating as attorneys, judges, bailiffs and witnesses.

During the first phase of the semester, attorneys from the Maricopa County Public Defender’s Office joined the YMCA to offer hands-on and real-life training to students. The attorney volunteers taught students when and how to object during a trial, how to present evidence during a trial and the key components needed when trying to prove the guilt or innocence of the defendant. Large group of high school student participants in judicial conference poses in front of ASU logo in Concho Room Over 70 teens participated in the YMCA's Youth and Government Judicial Conferences.

At the competition conference in March, the students put their learning into practice as teams participated in several rounds of trial. Through the scores of evaluators, two teams were announced as the winners of their respective age brackets.

Watts College provided the YMCA’s Youth and Government program classroom and conference space downtown as courtrooms for the trainings, trials and deliberations.

“The YMCA is excited to continue our judicial program, and we look forward to working with Watts College in the future,” said Brooke Baumer Saldivar, Valley of the Sun YMCA’s youth and civic outreach director. 

Summary courtesy of Brooke Baumer Saldivar

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ASU workshop showcases the challenges for those newly released from prison

ASU workshop simulates challenges of people who leave prison to rejoin society.
April 10, 2019

Simulation participants navigate probation, rent, transportation as they reenter society

Shawn served three years in prison for burglary, then walked out to face a dizzying array of requirements he had to fulfill with almost no help and no money. He had to pay for drug testing and probation but wouldn’t get his disability check for another week, and his landlord was demanding a $50 deposit right away.

“Shawn” was one of the characters in a role-playing scenario held Tuesday by the Center for Child Well Being at Arizona State University. About 100 people participated in the “reentry simulation,” each assuming the identity of someone who was recently released from prison. The participants included students, staff, faculty and community members, each of whom received a packet describing their character’s prison record, living and employment situations and everything he or she needed to accomplish every week to avoid being sent back to jail: look for a job, undergo drug testing, pay restitution, pay rent, pay child support, buy food, attend Alcoholics Anonymous.

The simulation was put on by the U.S. attorney’s office and was based on input from real people who have been released from prison. The goal is to demonstrate what it’s like for men and women to make their way through the system.

“We release people back into their communities every day, and with very little instruction,” said Tasha Aikens, a reentry specialist for the U.S. attorney’s office in Arizona, who runs the simulation for any group that requests it.

The simulation was divided into 15-minute segments, each representing one week. The room had 15 stations, representing the obligations of a returning citizen — probation, social services, bank, landlord, etc. Every participant had several tasks to complete each week.

The responsibilities were confusing and overwhelming. Every obligation required a bus pass. Even bus passes could not be purchased without handing over a bus pass.

The first week, Shawn, one of the lucky ones who left prison with $20, was able to purchase the all-important state ID card for $15, then sell his plasma for $25 to pay his $30 probation fee. He went to the “court,” handed over a bus pass and was told he needed to cash his plasma check before paying the fee. So he used another bus pass to go to the bank and cash the check and then another bus pass to finally pay the fee.

The second week was more stressful. Shawn had to wait in the church line to borrow a bus pass, which he used to buy more bus passes, then go back to the church to repay the bus pass before going to collect his disability check.

The simulation included real-life scenarios. Everyone who took a drug test had to pull a card from a deck to tell them whether it was “clean” or not. Every week, the participants received a card with an unplanned situation — like Shawn’s landlord discovering that he had a dog and needed to pay a $50 deposit.

In the third week, Shawn was waiting in line to pay his rent when the sheriff came by, saw that Shawn had not completed his second-week drug testing and sent him back to jail.

In the guided discussion after the simulation, many of the participants described how out of control they felt.

“A lot of it is pretty demeaning,” said Anthony Evans, a senior researcher for the L. William Seidman Research Institute in the W. P. Carey School of Business. The institute is working with Televerde, a call center operator that has been a leader in employing prisoners and people who have left prison. Evans said he decided to experience the simulation to gain insight into what Televerde’s workforce is facing.

“People in positions of authority should be encouraged to attend one of these,” he said.

The process was eye-opening even for practitioners. Molly Hahn-Floyd, a doctoral student at Northern Arizona University who works in adolescent behavioral health, said that during the simulation, she didn’t go to the church or social services or any other place that offered help.

“And I don’t know how many times I’ve preached to people, ‘Ask for help,’” she said.

Jan Wethers, reentry coordinator for the Arizona Department of Corrections, portrayed the mean pawn shop owner, who gave Shawn $10 for a $50 CD player.

“Take the bus sometime,” she told the practitioners. “See what it’s like when it’s hot and you have kids in tow and grocery bags.”

Empathy is critical, but so is responsibility, she said.

“You must hold them accountable. That is very, very important,” she said.

Many participants described how returning to jail felt inevitable — and almost a relief.

“If you’re released to a community and your family wants nothing to do with you and you have no job and no home and you have all these obligations, it makes sense to go back,” Aikens said. “They know your name in jail. You have food in jail. I get it.”

For a person who’s newly released, thinking about returning to prison can be a “comfort zone,” according to Theron Denman Jr., who left prison a year ago. He volunteered at the simulation “treatment” table and addressed the participants during the discussion.

“I was scared to drive, I was scared of the police, I was scared of technology,” he said. “If I hadn’t had the support of my family over this past year, I would’ve wanted to go back.

“But that’s not my comfort zone anymore. Volunteering here today is a beautiful thing.”

In the fourth week, Shawn got out of jail, bought bus passes, got food, completed weekly treatment, paid for a drug test and checked in with his vocational rehabilitation case worker. All the boxes were checked.

But it didn’t matter. While he was in jail during Week 3, he missed paying rent. Shawn was homeless.

The reentry simulation was a kickoff to the National Children of Incarcerated Parents Conference to be held next week by the Center for Child Well Being, part of the School of Social Work. The conference will include some events that are open to the public. On Sunday, the opening reception will feature photographer Isadora Kosofsky, who documents prison visitations between parents and children. Additionally, Denali Tiller, director of “Tre |Maison |Dasan” will screen her film and discuss the three young boys featured. On Tuesday, Rudy Valdez, director of HBO's “The Sentence,” will screen his documentary and discuss the effects of incarceration on his nieces. A panel discussion will follow, featuring people who have been affected by incarceration.

Top image: Tasha Aikens, a reentry specialist with the U.S. attorney's office, led a "reentry simulation" Tuesday at the Westward Ho in downtown Phoenix. About 100 students, staff, faculty and community members participated in the workshop, in which they took on the persona of someone who recently left prison and had to navigate all the tasks necessary to avoid being sent back to jail, such as getting a job, being drug tested and paying rent. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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Looking at sports as a microcosm of racial, gender disparities in society

ASU summit looks at racism, sexism issues in society through the lens of sport.
March 30, 2019

ASU Global Sport Institute's second summit draws experts to examine inclusion and diversity in college and pro leagues

Sports is a microcosm of the racial and gender issues facing society, and it often serves as the vehicle for change, according to several experts who spoke at the second Global Sport Summit held by the Global Sport Institute at Arizona State University on Thursday and Friday.

Kenneth Shropshire, CEO of the Global Sport Institute, said that Americans last year marked the 50th anniversary of the 1968 Olympics, when black athletes protested racism, as well as this year commemorating 400 years since the first African slave was brought to America.

“We’re thinking about how important this is, and also it’s a time to think about the progress that’s been made — or not — in that time,” he said.

The summit, which focused on topics of race and inclusion in sport, was sponsored by the Global Sport Institute as well as the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, the W. P. Carey School of Business, the School of Community Resources and Development, the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication, and the School of Historical, Philosophical and Religious Studies. The event was held in downtown Phoenix.

The summit gathered experts from different areas of the world of sports, where several panels addressed racism, sexism and the role of sports in helping refugees, veterans and people with disabilities, as well as how to achieve a career in sports. Here is some of what the speakers had to say:

Sports leagues are profiting from black athletes, who could be leveraging their positions.

Bill Rhoden, former columnist for the New York Times and writer-at-large for ESPN’s “The Undefeated,” said that although black people make up a majority of the athletes in some sports, they are underrepresented among those in power — the management and journalists.

“I’ve been to countless Super Bowls and national championships, and when we go through the tunnels, black folks are not in the spaces of event production and event management,” he said at the morning keynote address. “When you get closer to the field you see the black guys running and jumping, but farther away from the court or the field, we’re not there.”

To address this, ESPN established the Rhoden Fellows, two-year paid journalism internships for students from historically black colleges and universities, who cover race, class and culture for “The Undefeated.”

“When you’re sitting in a room and there’s no black people or women there, you know you’re sitting in the wrong space,” said Rhoden, author of “Forty Million Dollar Slaves: The Rise, Fall, and Redemption of the Black Athlete.”

Rhoden said that star college recruits like Zion Williamson, the Duke University basketball player who is widely expected to become the top pick in the NBA draft, should be making more demands, such as asking Duke to help other black students.

“Zion knows he’s only going to be in school for eight months at best, but there’s probably a deserving young black person in his community with the scores to go to Duke,” Rhoden said.

“Leverage is nothing without strategy and courage. It’s still a slave mentality of not looking white people in the eye,” he said. “If a top-10 kid threatened to walk away, all of a sudden things could happen.”

Race, gender and socioeconomic dynamics are a huge influence on college sports.

Amira Rose Davis, an assistant professor of history, and women's, gender and sexuality studies at Penn State University, said that Title IX is considered to be transformative legislation in women’s sports, and it has increased scholarships and participation for females.

“When Title IX was enacted, coaches of women’s teams were 95% women and now it’s less than 50%,” said Davis, who hosts the “Burn It All Down” podcast and spoke at a panel titled, “Race, Gender and Inclusion in College Sports.”

“There’s disproportionate representation of black women in track and basketball, and in the sports that are growing the fastest — field hockey, golf and tennis — black women make up less than 3%.

“We’ve grown sports but haven’t grown diversity, and we’ve invested in sports that are disproportionately more accessible to middle-class people, like soccer, where you have to play at the club level.”

Jean Boyd, executive senior associate athletic director at ASU, said: “The people with the highest salaries are almost exclusively white male coaches, juxtaposed with the overrepresentation of black male athletes.

“The most overrepresented but the most underachieving population of student-athletes are African American males.”

Boyd said Sun Devil Athletics differs from the typical narrative because there are black people in positions of power, including the athletic director, the head football coach and several other coaches.

Davis said sports can be a driver for social change and that she sees some college athletes leveraging their power. She mentioned the University of Missouri football team, which in 2015 brought attention to long-standing issues of racism on campus by threatening to not play a game.

“Within 24 hours, people were fired,” she said.

“Sports is a connector, and you can talk about hard issues that otherwise people won’t want to talk about,” she said.

Producing real change is complicated.

A panel titled “Policies Driving Progress in Sport and Beyond” tackled the issue of whether change should be mandated, like the Rooney RuleThe Rooney Rule is a National Football League policy started in 2003 requires teams to interview ethnic-minority candidates for head coaching jobs..

Vince Pierson, director of diversity and inclusion for Minor League Baseball, said that the biggest challenge is changing the culture.

“We can insert policies that may create an immediate change, but how do we make it part of our culture and have a true understanding and empathy behind what we’re doing?” he said.

“I always appreciated the intentionality of the Rooney Rule. It’s in place and be revisited and revised. You can’t legislate change to culture, but you can legislate change to behavior and that’s what the Rooney Rule tries to do.”

Pierson said that in Minor League Baseball, there are no mandates, so he must come up with incentives.

“That makes us think about how we’ll genuinely connect. We have a lot of programs to influence our pipeline — we get onto college campuses, we visit with first-generation college students,” he said.

“You have to create rewards. If you have some kind of pat on the back, everybody wants it.”

Mike Haynes, a former football player for ASU and the NFL, said that change must be organic.

“If I’m an NFL owner, I’m going to hire someone I’m comfortable with, and the challenge with the Rooney Rule is you’re hiring someone you don’t know or trust because of this requirement,” said Haynes, who is in the NFL Hall of Fame and used to work with the NFL.

“When I was with the NFL, I wasn’t in favor of it, but it was better than nothing.”

Black athletes face enormous hostility.

USC Professor  speaks onstage at the Global Sport Summit

Todd Boyd

Todd Boyd, a professor at the University of Southern California, said there’s a double standard when it comes to wrongdoing.

“If an athlete is accused of doing something wrong, it’s a huge story and the underlying component is, ‘What are we going to do about it?’ Lurking beneath the surface is this narrative of black athletes run amok,” said Boyd, who holds the Katherine and Frank Price Endowed Chair for the Study of Race and Popular Culture at USC.

“Hollywood is a community of movie stars and musical artists, and all the same sorts of things that people associate with athletes goes on in these spaces but I don’t know of anyone holding them to the same level of contempt,” he said.

Black athletes are faced with losing everything if they speak out.

Howard Bryant, a writer for ESPN and NPR, is the author of “The Heritage: Black Athletes, a Divided America, and the Politics of Patriotism.”

“I make the argument that in a lot of what is being sold in the American sport milieu is that being black is the worst thing in the world,” he said. “Look what happens to any black athlete who advocates — they take everything.”

Author, writer and commentator  speaks onstage at the Global Sport Summit

Howard Bryant

Bryant said the intertwining of sports and patriotism after 9/11 has heightened racism in sports.

“You’re watching the government use sports as a recruiting tool under the guise of patriotism,” he said. “It’s not patriotism, it’s commerce. You’re selling patriotism at a sporting event at a time when you’re telling black athletes they can’t speak.

“You’re criminalizing the most patriotic thing you could do in this country, which is to speak.”

The pressure isn’t just on the athletes. Pierson, the diversity and inclusion director for Minor League Baseball, said he feels that anxiety as well.

“I sit in boardrooms where I hear statements I should challenge,” he said. “There could be a sacrificial moment in my career where the change I look to create I never get to experience.”

The summit also included a screening of the film, “Through the Banks of the Red Cedar,” as well a showcase of Global Sport Institute research and a pitch competition for entrepreneurs.

The Global Sport Venture Challenge included seven competitors. The winner was Force Impact Technologies, whose CEO is Bob Merriman, who earned his bachelor’s and MBA degrees from ASU. Merriman invented a device called the FITGuard, a mouthpiece worn by athletes that measures the force of an impact and can detect a possible concussion. The mouth guard measures the hit and turns different colors depending on the severity of impact, sending data to a phone app.

Merriman said the device will have a huge potential market in youth and college sports.

“We understand the mindset of the player who wants to be on the field, and we also understand the mindset of the parents,” said Merriman, who won $10,000 and a mentoring trip to the headquarters of adidas in Portland, Oregon.

Top photo: Ken Shropshire (left), CEO of the Global Sport Institute at ASU, holds a keynote discussion with USC Professor Todd Boyd at the Global Sports Summit on Friday in downtown Phoenix. Boyd is an expert on race in pop culture, especially sports and film. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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Displaced populations can cultivate hope, social work experts find

Displacement leaves refugees under constant stress, researcher tells ASU crowd.
March 22, 2019

Refugees, incarcerated people find ways to be resilient, researchers say at Roatch-Haskell Lectures

Displaced and powerless, refugees and incarcerated people both struggle with the concept of hope, according to two social work experts who have researched the resilience of these populations.

“Human beings are incredible entities if they are given the chance,” said Alex Polgar, an author and researcher of correctional services in Canada.

Hope is defined as positive expectations for the future, said Polgar, who spoke as part of the annual Roatch-Haskell Lectures, held Friday in Phoenix. The two lectures addressed how social work practitioners — and the community — can help refugees and formerly incarcerated people. The speakers were Polgar, who was the Haskell speaker, and Bree Akesson, an associate professor of social work at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, who was the Roatch lecturer. The event was presented by the School of Social Work at Arizona State University.

For both incarcerated people and refugees, it all comes down to environment, Polgar said.

“Why did this happen? If we create environments that are questionable in our communities and our society, if they do not produce the results we want, why can’t we create an alternative environment?” he said.

Alex Polgar, a researcher and consultant on incarceration, gave the Haskell lecture at the University Club in Phoenix on Friday. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now

Polgar has researched cognitive development and emotional intelligence and found that almost all offenders had endured adverse environments, relationship trauma and failed attachment. He said it’s a misnomer to say that people released from prison will be “re-entered” into a community because most of them were never assimilated to begin with.

“They felt alienated. Many could only conceptualize hope as hoping to be alive tomorrow,” he said. “Their life skills, which became known as ‘emotional intelligence,’ were basic survival.”

Programs to develop cognitive skills and emotional intelligence helped prisoners to develop hope, Polgar said.

“We changed the environment and we measured everything,” he said. “As their cognitive development perspective improved, their emotional intelligence improved and their behavior improved.

“They began to understand that there were different ways of hoping than just survival.”

But programs to develop those skills in prisoners take time and money, and are unpopular when the public attitude is to punish rather than habilitate, according to John Hepburn, a professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice at ASU, who discussed the Arizona perspective after Polgar’s talk.

“Our sole technique is ‘punishment will deter.’ And if a little doesn’t work, we’ll give you more,” said Hepburn, who has researched prisoner re-entry. But that doesn’t help recidivism rates, which are more than 60 percent for male prisoners in Arizona, he said.

He also cited Arizona’s reliance on private prisons as a factor.

“Private prison services are not being held accountable for recidivism,” he said. “If you’re running a private prison, you want them coming back because it’s profit.”

Akesson discussed her extensive research in Lebanon with Syrian refugee families, who always had to balance their hopes to return home with the reality that they might not.

Civil war that started in 2011 has displaced millions of Syrians, and about a million have fled to Lebanon, where they live in informal camps on farms or in overcrowded apartments in Beirut. The Lebanese government doesn’t recognize the refugees or provide services, so the families live in constant fear of being arrested.

“The moms and children are working. Men aren’t working because they’re afraid of being arrested,” she said. “Men are targeted by security forces and asked to show IDs they don’t have, so that is changing family dynamics.”

Akesson and her research team spent time with 46 Syrian families, doing extensive interviews with every family member, having the children draw pictures, going on tours of their neighborhoods with them and asking them to wear activity-logging devices and fill out daily diaries. Then they made “mobility maps,” and went back to interview the families again.

They found that the families live in constant stress.

“It was the idea of precarity — underemployment, food insecurity. Parents feel inadequate for not being able to provide for their children,” she said.

“That leads to restricted mobility. Families don’t go outside because they’re afraid their children will ask for things, like ice cream or a trip to the beach. That was surprising and heartbreaking.”

Arizona has accepted some Syrian refugees, according to Juliana Davis, the state refugee health coordinator at the Arizona Department of Economic Security, who gave the local perspective.

The number peaked in 2016, when 800 Syrian refugees were resettled in Arizona, but after the Paris attacks that year, the vetting process was changed, and this year only five Syrians were accepted here, she said.

Akesson said that despite the hardships, the refugees she met were resilient, finding a way to earn a living and send their children to school.

“We always ended the interviews by talking about dreams for the future,” she said. One 10-year-old boy said: “I dream of going back to Syria and going back to school.”

The John F. Roatch Global Lecture Series on Social Policy and Practice was established by John and Mary Roatch. The Linda Haskell Memorial Master Class was established by Rose and William Haskell to honor the memory of their daughter, Linda Haskell, a social worker who was killed by a drunk driver in 1992.

Top photo: Bree Akesson, an associate professor of social work at Wilfrid Laurier University in Canada, describes her research with Syrian refugees in Lebanon during the Roatch-Haskell Lectures at the University Club in Phoenix on Friday. Photo by Marcus Chormicle/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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ASU works inside prisons, out in community on incarceration solutions

ASU initiatives work inside prisons, with families on incarceration solutions.
March 21, 2019

Initiatives on re-entry and reform include students, inmates and the public

Momentum is beginning to shift toward addressing the effects of mass incarceration, and Arizona State University has several initiatives to address the growing concern over the fate of people in prison, how it affects their families and what happens when they rejoin society.

The programs in the Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions work inside the prisons and in the community and involve undergraduates, grad students and the public:

• ASU undergraduates are invited to apply for the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, in which students will visit Perryville Prison once a week for a semester to learn about crime and justice alongside women who are incarcerated there. The deadline to apply is April 5.

• Members of the public can gain insight from a simulation workshop on April 9 in which they’ll experience what it’s like to navigate life after being released from prison.

• Researchers and practitioners will gather for the four-day National Children of Incarcerated Parents Conference held by the Center for Child Well-Being next month to discuss best practices and hear from experts.

Nationwide, about 2.2 million people were incarcerated as of December 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, while about an additional 4.5 million people were under supervision, either probation or parole. That means that about 1 in 38 adults, or 2.6 percent of people age 18 or older in the United States, were under some form of correctional supervision at year-end 2016. Despite declining crime rates and sentencing changes, which led to a decrease in the number of imprisoned people over the previous decade, the United States still has the highest rate of incarceration in the world — at 655 inmates per 100,000 people, according to the World Prison Brief.

When people leave incarceration, they often fall into what is called “the second prison” of poverty and homelessness. Formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of more than 27 percent — higher than the unemployment rate during the Great Depression, according to the Prison Policy Initiative.

But several bipartisan efforts are underway to address the effects of mass incarceration. In December, President Donald Trump signed the First Step Act, a bill to repeal some of the harsh sentencing measures passed decades ago. In Arizona, a poll by a bipartisan lobbying group found that 80 percent of those surveyed felt it was important to reduce the number of people in prison, although several bills on the issue died in the Legislature.

About 95 percent of incarcerated people eventually will leave prison, so focusing on their outcomes is critical, according to Kevin Wright, an associate professor in the School of Criminology and Criminal Justice.

"Our ASU students are changing the mindset of people who have had years of experience with criminal justice that is negative and now they see a more promising future.”
— Kevin Wright, ASU associate professor

Wright is the director of the Center for Correctional Solutions, a year-old unit devoted to research, education and community outreach. The center houses the Inside-Out Prison Exchange Program, which has been offered since 2016 but will be at Perryville for the first time next fall. That’s important because work with men in prison is not necessarily translatable to women in prison, Wright said.

“We can’t say all the results we come up with will tidily work with women. There’s good reasons to think that’s not the case,” he said.

“Women who are incarcerated often have different histories — often there’s more abuse, victimization, addiction and financial dependence, and children play a role.”

The Inside-Out class will include 10 undergraduate ASU students, who will take a van once a week to Perryville to meet with 10 women who are incarcerated there. Together, they’ll study motivational justice. There are no prerequisites, but the undergraduates will be interviewed before being accepted. The past few classes have included students from a variety of majors, which has enriched the experience, Wright said.

"In the last class we had students from business, finance and global studies. The perspectives they brought are what we need to come up with innovative solutions,” he said.

RELATED: Barrett, The Honors College Inside-Out program focuses on toxic masculinity and fostering positive change

Prospective students at Perryville must have a high school equivalency diploma and no misconduct points.

“One of the things everyone loves is that we don’t read criminology and justice — we read organization systems and social psychology, what makes a good team and what inspires people,” he said. “We take all that general knowledge developed elsewhere and apply it to criminal justice and our approach to rehabilitating people.”

Last year, an ASU master’s degree student analyzed the results of surveys taken by the participants before and after the classes. As expected, the undergraduates become more understanding of why people end up in prison. But the view of the “inside” people changed as well after they met ASU students who plan careers in law enforcement, Wright said.

“They no longer think, ‘I hate police.’ They think, ‘Megan will be a police officer.’ Our ASU students are changing the mindset of people who have had years of experience with criminal justice that is negative, and now they see a more promising future.”

The Center for Correctional Solutions has other initiatives as well, including the Arizona Transformation Project, a think tank based at the Arizona State Prison Complex in Florence that includes alumni from the first Inside-Out class held there. Research projects are evaluating whether the state’s Second Chance Centers are helping to reduce recidivism and how restrictive housing affects the mental health of inmates and correctional officers.

Currently, a doctoral student is creating an employment program for the women at Perryville, Wright said.

“She is doing interviews because we don’t want to take something off the shelf and assume it will work with the women,” he said.

“We’re asking, ‘What’s the best programming you’ve ever had?’ and ‘What’s your dream job?’ to develop something that will make an impact.”

When a person goes to prison, the effects reverberate among the family. In 2014, people in the Phoenix community came to the Center for Child Well-Being and asked for help in addressing the needs of children whose parents are incarcerated. So the center held a daylong conference, which was informative but didn’t lead to any momentum, according to Judy Krysik, an associate professor in the School of Social Work and director of the center.

So last year, the center held its first national conference.

“We had people with lived experience — people who were children of incarcerated parents and maybe still had parents who were incarcerated. We had parents who had been incarcerated. Researchers. Advocates. People from the faith-based community. Government agencies such as probation, child welfare, corrections,” she said.

“That was a little bit tense because people don’t always agree or see things the same way. And it was a healthy tension, where people were able to voice their dissatisfaction with certain aspects of research or policy or practice.”

For example, research in this field often focuses on poor educational outcomes or generational incarceration.

“That’s disturbing for children who are trying to do well and feel they are doing well,” she said. “There needs to be a better balance there.”

Families face so much stigma when a parent is incarcerated that sometimes they’ll lie to the children about why the parent isn’t there.

“Sometimes they’ll tell the child that the parent has a job at the prison,” Krysik said. “And a lot of times the child knows they’re not being told the truth, and that creates an even bigger sense of shame around the issue.”

The second conference, on April 14-17, will bring together experts to share best practices, including training for teachers who have children of incarcerated parents in their classrooms.

And the participants also will focus on research.

“There’s pockets of research in different places with children of different ages,” she said. “There’s a little research on visiting programs and there’s a little research on re-entry programs, but there’s nothing that lays out a framework or tells us where our gaps in research are,” she said. “And that’s what we’re trying to put together this year, really mapping that out and making sense of it.”

RELATED: Podcast focuses on children of incarcerated parents

The conference also will be a mini film festival, featuring four documentaries: “Run for His Life,” by photographer Pete Monsanto, whose father is serving a life sentence; “Foster,” about foster families, which will be on HBO later this year; “Tres Maison Dasan,” about three boys whose fathers are in prison, and “The Sentence,” about a mother serving a 15-year term, which also will feature a discussion by the director, Rudy Valdez.

The public will get a unique opportunity to delve into this issue at a “re-entry simulation” workshop on April 9 in which they can experience the first month of post-release life. Each participant assumes the identity of an ex-offender and receives a packet of materials explaining criminal background, living situation, job situation and weekly tasks that must be accomplished to avoid being sent back to prison. Then the participants try to navigate their new lives. A guided discussion will follow.

“We hope to influence the practices and the policies and to reduce some of the barriers for people re-integrating into society,” Krysik said.

“There’s is growing recognition that it’s such a loss of human capital and creates so much havoc with so many families.” 

Top photo by Deanna Dent/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU Now


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Community conversation moves One Square Mile Initiative forward

March 20, 2019

ASU project to help revitalize a growing community of 230,000 residents in Phoenix

The Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions at Arizona State University is moving forward with a project to help revitalize a growing community of 230,000 residents in Phoenix.

Dean Jonathan Koppell led a community conversation in Maryvale Monday to discuss the Maryvale One Square Mile Initiative with a standing-room only crowd of stakeholders representing the neighborhood, various community groups and local police.

The initiative is a core project stemming from Sunstate Equipment founders and philanthropists Mike and Cindy Watts’ investment in the college to support Maryvale, the neighborhood where they grew up. 

“Maryvale is a great place,” Koppell said. “It’s a strong community with lots of people engaged. What we see is a community that is ambitious with aspirations to be more than it is today.”

Maryvale’s soaring population accounts for 10 percent of Maricopa County, and if it were a city, it would be the seventh largest in the state. The neighborhood is also one of the poorest in Phoenix, where 39 percent of residents lack a high school diploma or equivalency.

“There are some extraordinary things going on and there are some signs of unhealthy patterns,” Koppell said.  

Although Monday’s meeting was the first for the public at large, the college has been working on the project for months by listening to residents and soliciting feedback. That is a key piece for the long-term success of the initiative, because Koppell wants to ensure all work going forward is “of, by and for the community.”

“The idea is not that we come here, plant a flag, say we’re open for business and everything is about us,” Koppell said. “Because that’s not sustainable. What we are interested in doing is helping start things that have an organic basis and they last forever.”

To that end, the college established the Design Studio for Community Solutions. Led by Director Erik Cole, the studio will be the place to share ideas, bring in different perspectives and run possibilities up against reality.

“It’s not purely an architectural exercise,” Koppell said. “We think of it as a studio where we design concepts and we repeat, and if we fail we try again, and we design again.”

Many groups in Maryvale are already engaged in different community initiatives. Watts College is interested in helping concentrate efforts and “connect the dots” between activities that are already happening.

“There are so many assets, opportunities and organizations (engaged),” Cole said. “Maryvale Revitalization Corporation, Heart of Isaac (community center), YMCA, Grand Canyon University, school districts. None of why we are here is to say there aren’t those assets and that incredible work is not already happening.”

One other organization mentioned by Cole was Estrella Supermoms, a neighborhood block-watch program of about 20 families who help clean up Maryvale, remove graffiti and work on other service projects.

“That’s what this is about,” Cole said. “It’s really about community and coming together, and if we can be a vehicle for that, so be it.”

Monday’s community conversation also served as an opportunity to continue gathering feedback from residents. Attendees participated in three faculty-led group discussions about health and wellness; youth, families and children; and public safety. The discussions brought up areas of concern that present opportunities for improvement.

Security is an important topic often taken for granted in other neighborhoods, said Carlos Mendoza, a 16-year-old student at Phoenix Union Bioscience High School.

“Other communities have bright lights, security cameras, everything is safe and protected,” he said. “You look at the parks here; the lights are yellow, dim and so far away from each other.”

Parents don't let their children out to play after the sun goes down, because those who are not at home could find themselves in a “scary situation,” Mendoza said.

Contributing to neighborhood crime is the reality in Maryvale that many people are hesitant to report crimes to police, said Rosa Menjivar, who is the president of the Estrella Supermoms.

“We see the fear in the community that leads people to not report crime,” Menjivar said. “I need officials to help do their part in communicating more with families and get them more engaged.”

Crime is not the only safety factor challenging Maryvale residents. Simply walking down the street can be risky. The community layout and sidewalks are not pedestrian-friendly, and this can account for the high number of accidents, Mendoza said. Pedestrians have to walk a light or two down the street to get to a bus stop, which can take an extra 10 to 15 minutes. So jaywalking is common because some are willing to risk their lives to save some time.

“Sidewalks are not practical,” Mendoza said. “Things are dictated by how things are shaped, and I feel like most things here are shaped by, of course, the engineers that originally designed this community.”

Watts College has not set a specific timeline to achieve objectives of the Maryvale One Square Mile Initiative, Koppell said. The university intends to remain a resource for as long as necessary. The idea is for ASU to serve as an “empowering” force rather than an essential element needed for success.

“We can change Maryvale,” Menjivar said. “If we work as a team.”

Top photo: Dean Jonathan Koppell, Watts College of Public Service and Community Solutions, speaks with Maryvale community members on March 18 in Maryvale. Photo by Jerry Gonzalez/ASU

Jerry Gonzalez

Media Relations Officer , Media Relations and Strategic Communications