Digital Equity: Not an Easy Task
By Katie Ward, CTEP AmeriCorps Member at Metro South ABE
It is a common belief that all urban residents have access to affordable fast internet. However, this is not true for Minneapolis.
In a continuation of the 2017-2018 CE Project, Closing the Digital Divide, we created a one-hour interactive presentation and then organized community meetings to create awareness about unequal internet access in Minneapolis. We quickly learned community organizing is far from a quick and easy process.
Our biggest struggle was finding a community partner. We reached out to neighborhood organizations, but they had already reached their capacity for new projects. As we met with other organizations, we found we were limited by time. Many groups were not available until after our CTEP year ended.
Through our CTEP connections, we hosted a lunch meeting at Minneapolis Central Library in mid-April. This meeting was not quite the success we had expected, but it provided an opportunity to better prepare for future meetings. We learned that it is important to verify marketing for meetings, that interactive games can explain internet speeds in a tangible way, and that logistics of meetings matter.
As we looked at ways to improve our presentation, we decided to change our approach and attend a few community events. We chose to table at: DigiDaze and Open Streets Minneapolis. DigiDaze provided a great opportunity to test how people reacted to our set-up. We created a marble race game to visually show internet speeds (without needing an internet connection). We also designed a tri-fold with information on internet access in Minneapolis. It was rewarding to engage with people on a personal level, instead of the more formal setting of community meetings.
We will be tabling at Open Street Minneapolis Lake + Minnehaha on Sunday July 21, 11am-5pm. Then, we will host another community meeting at the East Lake Library, on Tuesday, July 23, 6pm-7pm. We hope these activities will educate Minneapolis residents on the complex issue of internet access in their city.
CTEP AmeriCorps Members: Katie Ward, Gus Leinbach, Amelia Palacios, Matt Krenz, Joanna Lynch
Each year our 35 CTEP AmeriCorps members choose community action projects that make a contribution to bridging the digital divide. The CTEP civic engagement projects are often cited by CTEP AmeriCorps members, staff, supervisors, and community supporters as one of the most unique and energizing parts of the program. This is one of the 2019 civic engagement projects.