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Full Posts:

Working Through the Community

Post:

11

Date:

Dec 8, 2000

From:

Daniel Ben-Horin


Mario, we appreciate your kind words and thoughtful amplification.

George Gundrey leads our very rapidly expanding work with community technology centers nationwide (Teddie Kirtman is his very able associate in this work). He reviewed the stream to date and offered this comment which I think is useful:

I finally read through the entire thread. The piece that most resonated with me was David Hunter's comment that:

>"It looks to us at the present that there needs to be considerable investment of time in developing a high level of trust before TA is welcomed or incorporated into organizational or operational change."

The challenge is that many CBOs don't trust funders! Certainly my being able to develop strong personal relationships with certain directors at CIOF (note: California Wellness Foundation sponsored project, Computers in Our Future, co-led by Children's Partnership, Community Partners and CompuMentor) sites has really increased my effectiveness as a TA provider. I developed these relationships by going the extra mile and doing a bunch of stuff really not in the plan -- getting dirty laying cable, troubleshooting PCs, hanging out at the bar at the statewide meetings, etc. Similarly, Erick (note: Erick Recinos-Rojas leads our circuit-riding work with Irvine Foundation sponsored Central Valley Citizenship Project) has indicated that he is least effective with the organizations that see him as some kind of agent of the Foundation. Obviously, ethnic diversity and having folks from different backgrounds on the TA team is a big deal in terms of trust, but I think personality and approach are just as -- if not more -- important. There is a big personality/culture clash between the folks at foundations and the CBOs (with many notable exceptions, of course), and that is why a lot of grants by foundations to "increase organizational capacity" do not work out as the funder would like.

It seems like any discussion of effective TA and the effective use of technology by CBOs should include an acknowledgement of the challenge of trust. It's the personal side of the larger argument. As alluded to in this thread, the information superhighway could, like the concrete highway, tear some (already disenfranchised) communities apart while benefiting other segments of society. To prove to the folks at the CBO level that they can be the beneficiaries of technology takes trust.

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