DML: Networks of Power: Digital Literacy meets Community Organizing in Chicago


This panel of Smart Communities’ Tech Organizers will provide a stimulating dialogue about digital media learning in Chicago’s five new Digital Excellence Communities. Each panelist represents four out of five chosen communities by the City of Chicago’s Digital Excellence initiative which is funded by Broad Band USA, and the MacArthur Foundation.

Specifically, this panel of Tech Organizers will reflect on their experience as Tech Organizers who promote digital literacy and civic leadership development in five Chicago neighborhoods. Each Tech Organizer will discuss various theoretical models they have developed and put into practice, to address the complexities of working with predominantly working class communities to adopt effective and everyday use of digital media tools and broadband services. Central examples that will be elaborated in this discussion is the current work Tech Organizers are doing with local small businesses—mom and pop shops—which entails outlining to local business owners how the adoption of technology and digital media tools can expand and sustain their business growth over the next five years. Furthermore, this panel will detail the myriad of strategies used to engage, educate, and strengthen residents’ digital illiteracies. In order to fully etch out the contours of digital media learning in ethnically diverse communities, the panel will include an interactive slide show presentation detailing our current findings.

Each Tech Organizer represents a specific demographic within their respective Chicago communities:

• Auburn Gresham- African American

• Englewood- African American

• Chicago Lawn- Latino/African-American/European

• Pilsen- Mexican American

• Humboldt Park- Puerto Rican American