Over the last 2 weeks we made the last changes to our survey as discussed at the meeting we had before our last reflection. The survey is live and being put out to Mountain View’s various communities through social media channels and other resources at the city’s disposal. We’ve also translated the survey to Spanish to broaden the access and reach of our survey. During week 4, Romeo and Kendall went to a meeting that the Spanish Speaking Ambassadors had at City Hall. There they presented a truncated version of the midterm presentation in order to recruit some of the attendees for a focus group. Based on some speculation from city officials, the community that the Spanish Speaking Ambassadors reaches is likely one of the communities that will not be reached by the city’s online presence as well as one that will be well connected to the parts of Mountain View affected by the digital divide. The presentation went well and there was a lot of interest in the goals of the project as well as being part of the focus group.
What We Observed and Learned
One promising and motivating observation was seen at the Spanish Speaking Ambassadors meeting. Since we’re working with Mountain View rather than a community organization, one detail we’ve been trying to hone in on is how to grant the community control and participation in our project, which is inherently pretty high level. The members of the community meeting were all very interested in how to work with the city on fixing the digital divide. We hope that the results of our work won’t just stay in the city; in order to work towards a goal of putting the results in the hands of people who can benefit from them we have to establish those connections now. Part of our survey includes questions about the resources that Mountain View has to offer (i.e. city libraries, teen centers, senior centers, etc) that can help close the digital divide. However it’s very important to understand how the services that the city provides do or don’t reach certain communities. We hope that our focus groups will help shed some light on those issues and establish deeper partnerships between the city and the people that the city should exist to serve when it comes to the digital divide.
Critical Analysis/Moving Forward
As stated earlier, we are trying to be very mindful of how to cement community control in this project. Using Arnstein’s ladder of citizen participation, it’s easy to view the digital literacy programs that exist in Mountain View as relatively low on this ladder. Fortunately there are very concrete steps to move the programs up the ladder through existing infrastructure. The Spanish Speaking Ambassadors are already in contact with the city and offering services such as information that can serve undocumented members of the community, tax information, etc to people who attend the meetings. We expect that one of the main policy recommendations that we will propose to the city is increasing access to the digital literacy services and programs that already exist through the community centers. Putting the distribution of those services high on the ladder of citizen participation, in this case, solves two problems at once. If we include the community as much as we can in the city’s attempts to reach those who need the classes the most, we can both figure out what would be the most useful information to get to the community and figure out how to actually bring them in. Too often we see that there is a missing link between laws, regulations, or policies and the people they’re supposed to benefit. The city of Mountain View can create as many digital literacy classes as they want, but if nobody is attending them - because they aren’t in Spanish, for example - there might as well be no classes. Moving forward we hope to set up a focus group that can help us develop policy that will make a meaningful difference. We will also start to look at results as they come in and either fine tune our survey or begin to make that next step of analysis based on what we have so far.