Interconnecting Communities – 11/7/16

It’s a rewarding feeling when I’ve been involved in a range of diverse activities, and then they all come together at once. This happened for me in the last week of October.

But to explain, I have to start with the individual threads, which in their own right were the result of connections being made. But without going back too far …

PBDD has been a member of National Digital Inclusion Alliance (NDIA) since June of 2015, when both were new organizations. In May of 2016, NDIA sponsored their first conference, the Net Inclusion Summit in Kansas City. PBDD was delighted to join in the planning of that event, and to have the opportunity to meet with so many others involved in aspects of digital inclusion. One of the people I met there was Grif Peterson of P2PU. After the lunch session in which each organization gave a brief overview of their mission, I caught up with him and introduced myself. P2PU encourages “learning circles”- peer to peer learning – by providing a facilitators guide and a framework of tools to help plan, promote, and manage sessions where students take on-line classes together, working through the material and helping each other learn.

Meanwhile, back in Illinois, I had joined a group of technology training people associated with Illinois libraries, and have been attending their quarterly meetings and sharing resources with them. They seemed like an ideal group to be interested in the learning circle concept, so I raised the topic. When I contacted Grif about attending the October meeting, he was unavailable, and I learned that he lives in Boston. (My faulty assumption was that since they had piloted the program with the Chicago Public Library System, he was from Illinois.) But when asked, he was happy to provide a couple of contacts with Chicago public library system. When I reached out, I received an immediate and enthusiastic response from Kate Lapinski, who agreed to come out and talk. She gave an excellent presentation, and was excited by the prospect of connecting with the group, so I call that a double win.

The connection aspect of the day was doubled when Kathleen Weiss of Vernon Area Public Library approached me during the tour of Des Plaines Public Library to thank me for sharing with her the VLOOKUP class which People’s Resource Center had recorded and made available. She had used the class to provide training on the topic in her community.

The following day, I attended my first Meetup with Connect Chicago, a group of people who work to bring public computer centers, community technology centers, and digital literacy programs to the people of Chicago. It is a diverse group, including community advocates, cyber-navigators from the Chicago Public Library System, and representatives of non-profits as well as local businesses. The topic for the day was computer refurbishing, presented by Sarah Cade of PCRR in Chicago. Sarah also organizes the Electronics Reuse Conference, a gathering of enterprises involved in the computer refurbishing business. At the end of the presentation, I was delighted to see that Kate Lapinski was also present. Familiar faces in a new group help one feel at home.

I look forward to working with each of these groups, helping form the connections which we can all use to work more effectively to bridge the digital divide.

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