Working Through the Community
Greg, thanks for your good work on the summary - you are doing an amazing job.
First, my one overall comment on the summary document is that MI's core thrust in this whole effort needs somehow to be more central right off the bat as a context for the premises that follow. The point is made quite well that this effort is about the re-direction of energy from issues of access and implementation of technology, to how technology can enable people to improve their own lives. The shift is critical - from focus on a digital divide to one on the human divide and the potential/power of technology to bridge that divide in all its dimensions. I think that singularly important message would be strengthened by more on the thrust of the effort... and less on the lead-in.
Second, I want to pick up on Carlos' suggestion about the benefit of establishing a community and even regional planning process around the issue of IT in low-income communities as a vehicle for identifying layers of intermediaries, and getting buy-in by incorporating people into the process. Perhaps I have misunderstood your suggestion Carlos (and forgive me if I have), but I think I approach the issue from a different perspective. Over the years, I have come to believe ever more strongly that outside-led bureaucratic and interventionist approaches seldom yield long term positive outcomes in low-income or otherwise fragile communities. The best possibilities seem to come from a combination of such things as: community-rooted leadership, local leadership engaging members and achieving credibility with service organizations and social networks, clarity on what is in the self-interest of the community, and strategic identification and development of resource partnerships. My sense is that locally driven planning cannot be long and abstract, and must point to clear tangible benefits for the community itself. I would suggest that the best starting point for planning and development, and one to be encouraged, would be the initiation of Asset Mapping by and within the community. This latter has the potential to open, or even forge, productive relationships among key organizations and community members. It is no small thing to sustain such efforts, hence the importance of intermediaries that put their knowledge, commitment and resources - human and technological - to support such critical efforts at social change. So, on the planning issue - I think I would be inclined to encourage it for communities, and suggest something like Asset Mapping as a starting point.