Admittedly, the past week has been busy for me, between continuing a job search and taking care of some family issues. But thankfully, I was able to reengage with an organization that I have worked with via Net Tuesday (or our relatively new title, Net2Chi)....and which I'm proud to introduce (or reintroduce) via this blog.
The Chicago Digital Access Alliance has been working to drive digital excellence in the city of Chicago for the past six years. In accordance with their principles, they have been working to make sure critically underserved communities receive access (both in terms of broadband and software) to technology. For the Alliance, such work is necessary for overall community development. From their perspective,
Achieving Digital Excellence requires ongoing community participation, recognized expertise in the field of digital literacy and an integrated strategy grounded in the needs and aspirations of the people. Digital Excellence will not be attained as a digital afterthought of the Vendors to the Wireless network.
Thankfully, the Alliance has had two achievements in the past few months - achievements which, although small, will allow them to make a much greater impact upon the greater community.
One is acquiring a new office on Cottage Grove, near the Green Line stop. Literally steps from the El, the new CDAA office - the group's first "permanent" home - will serve as an incubator for digital businesses, a refurbishing center for older computers, and a training/meeting center for organizations. Pierre Clark, who leads the alliance, is working with other leadership in redeveloping the Woodlawn neighborhood, and the CDAA's new office will allow for the neighborhood to have their own digital center.
But the other major development is the establishment of the Woodlawn Broadband Expansion Partnership. Created in the shadow of the Chicago Broadband Challenge, the Partnership is spearheading efforts to not just bring digital excellence and digital literacy to Woodlawn, but to transform it into a leading-edge community, establishing it as a "community of choice" (to quote the partnership) in the 21st century.
Chicago has a healthy, thriving population of consultants and experts who are willing to help non-profits become more tech-savvy. But driving the social good is more than just a class or a conference - it consists of more ground-level hands-on work that lacks immediate payoff, but has more longer lasting impacts. The fruits of the Chicago Digital Access Alliance's efforts are only now being seen....and the best is yet to come, making them one neighbor definitely worth knowing.