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Morino Institute From Access to Outcomes: Digital Divide Report and Dialogue
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Working Through the Community




Dec 20, 2000


Carlos Manjarrez

Dear MI DD List:

There is something that we haven't touched on explicitly that I believe merits some discussion. We have not discussed the proposals made in the report or those made by individuals in the context of a community or regional planning process. I don't think it overly optimistic to suggest that a solid community planning process would go a long way toward addressing a number of the issues raised.

For example, community planning could be instrumental in identifying the appropriate "layer of intermediaries" (Greg Weiner Dec. 3rd). We spent some time earlier trying to define what this elusive group might look like. But maybe it makes more sense to look for intermediaries to grow out of a broadly inclusive planning process. This seems particularly appropriate when you consider the fact that leadership, like needs, is likely to vary substantially from place to place.

Planning could also address Daniel Ben-Horin & George Gundrey's concern about CBO trust (Dec. 8th). If you want people to buy-in, then incorporate them into a process that is meaningful, where their contributions matter and the return is worth the investment - trust will follow.

Finally, I think a comprehensive planning effort around the issue of IT in low-income communities could/should address Mario's concern about the lack of "relevant research about the state of these communities and the role of technology" (Dec. 13th). After all, good planning efforts require information. If we are to address these issues with some perspective then we will require, at the very least, much more refined measures of individual need, we will have to do a better job of identifying current resources (IT and otherwise) and we will have to clearly define service gaps, at least by program and geography. Call it an occupational hazard (researchers are always looking for better data) but it seems to me that this kind of information is vital for long term planning and interventions like those identified in the [draft copy of the] Access to Outcomes report.

One more missive on this issue of identifying intermediaries.... While I think Ms. Breeden's suggestion is an important one, I would be a bit nervous about identifying specific groups or agencies a priori. Such an action could meet with stern opposition from those not chosen. There are other potential pitfalls. To rely upon "community organizations that are already using technology with some success" would mean that you are relying upon a group that may have vested interests in retaining its position as the key provider of IT services. In some communities the priorities of the veteran agencies may fit with broader community needs, in others it may not.

Thanks for your time. Happy Holidays.

-Carlos Manjarrez

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