Digital Inclusion Meets Open Leadership: Connect Chicago & the Mozilla Global Sprint

This year I’ve had the opportunity to participate in the third cohort of Mozilla Open Leadership Training. During the 14-week program I learned from mentors and fellow project leads across the world working on collaborative initiatives promoting an open, healthy Internet for all.

In the program’s own words:

Open Leadership Training is for anyone who is currently running or starting an open project and wants to invest in their open leadership skills. Project leads, partners, or small groups of co-leaders responsible for project success and growth.

The project doesn’t have to be technical! It can be curriculum (open educational resource), an open data project or report, an open source software project, or anything else that has: 1. a way for others to get involved 2. a feature, release, or MVP (minimum viable product) to work on publicly with community members for the duration of the program

At Smart Chicago we do a lot of work within the broader category of tech inclusion — whether it’s about onboarding nonprofits into the data ecosystem, getting residents involved with improving civic tech tools, or building smart city infrastructure with resident input. Though much of our project work (especially on the civic tech and data side) already exist in the open, I was interested in bringing the spirit of open work to our biggest digital inclusion initiative: Connect Chicago.

Applying Open Leadership Practices to Local Digital Inclusion Work

Connect Chicago is a citywide digital inclusion initiative focused on increasing access to the Internet and digital learning opportunities. Throughout 2016 and 2017 we’ve worked to bolster in-person collaboration through Connect Chicago Meetups and recent neighborhood-based participatory design sessions with DePaul University. Given that goal and our desire to strengthen online collaboration methods for current and future contributors, applying Open Leadership Training to the work made sense.

At Smart Chicago I get to work at the intersection of digital inclusion, civic tech, and open data. One thing I love about working at that intersection is that I get to think about how each of those sometimes siloed categories of public-serving technology can inform the others. In the past I’ve talked more broadly about how the digital inclusion and civic tech communities could collaborate better. My natural frame of mind within that conversation was previously skewed in one direction; I mostly focused on what digital inclusion partnerships could do to strengthen civic engagement in civic tech.

Now, in addition to thinking about how digital inclusion can strengthen civic tech, I’m considering how civic tech processes can be adapted to improve local and national digital inclusion work. Civic tech communities are quick to share, quick to remix others’ work, considering user experiences, and are generally good at harnessing the power of volunteerism. Though digital inclusion work like Connect Chicago is less technical than a civic tech project, the “build with” attitude matters just as much.

In that spirit, Connect Chicago has strategized how to open up our work more to invite more collaborators and more feedback. Meetups provide a platform for digital inclusion advocates and practitioners to share ideas, best practices, and resources. Community Technology Forums are an emerging channel for residents to co-design digital inclusion priorities. Community members and national peers can drop into our Google Folder to see our materials and even edit documents or notes. We also created a centralized onboarding form to point potential collaborators to the modes of participation they are most comfortable with (ex: Google, Meetups, Slack). Bringing this work the the Mozilla Open Leadership Cohort and the 2017 Global Sprint was the next step in that journey.

Join the Mozilla Global Sprint

Connect Chicago is pleased to participate as a Mozilla Global Sprint 2017 project this Thursday and Friday June 1st & 2nd. The Global Sprint is like a giant global hackathon/ideathon that anyone with a device and an internet connection can participate in. Given that increasing quality online and offline collaboration is a current priority, we embrace this experience as a Mozilla Global Sprint Project to invite current and new collaborators into Connect Chicago work.

It’s easy to get involved remotely. As a first step, I recommend that you read the Connect Chicago Project Roadmap — a one stop, centralized starting point for how to contribute to Connect Chicago’s digital inclusion work during the Mozilla Global Sprint and beyond.

Note that beyond a general comfort with Google docs, there are no other prerequisites to being a meaningful contributor to Connect Chicago. Even if you’re just inserting or submitting comments/questions into our shared collaboration doc, all input is welcome. You can also engage on Twitter! Tweet ideas, questions, and updates using #mozsprint #ConnectChicago.

If you’re a local Chicago resident and want to participate in the Global Sprint in person, there’s an option for you! On Friday, June 2nd I will be online and in Chicago with my fellow local Open Leadership Cohort members, David Bild of the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum and Priya Shah from the City of Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology. To join to the local Chicago Sprint, register here while space is available!

Want to read more about this work and how Connect Chicago is involved? The Mozilla Global Sprint team just interviewed me on their blog! You can read the full post here. You can read other project leads’ interviews here.

Future Open Project Work Advancing Digital Inclusion

Thus far, open working practices (both online and in person) have improved Connect Chicago and we hope get even better over time. Open working has been a great way way to crowdsource information about digital inclusion resources, gather expertise from many valued local collaborators, check our assumptions, and increase momentum around our mission.

I’d love to collaborate with others locally and nationally to think more about how to challenge the “how” of digital inclusion work in this way. Anything the Connect Chicago community creates is fair game for others to use, remix, adapt to their city, and share. Open working has major implications for not only local projects like Connect Chicago, but also national networks of digital inclusion practitioners working across municipalities and tackling similar problems. We could apply open working strategies to co-build new projects, share and build on each other’s digital inclusion data work, or create truly open and editable training materials, just to name a few possibilities.

If others are interested in talking more about open digital inclusion work, feel free to email me at dlinn@cct.org.

Announcing the June Connect Chicago Meetup: Empowering Girls Through Technology

At the next Connect Chicago Meetup, we’ll have a roundtable discussion led by a panel of trainers and nonprofit representatives that work every day to leverage tech training to improve the lives of girls and young women across Chicago.

Special guests that will share their work and help us discuss this topic:

• David Lane, YWCA Chicago

• Asia Roberson, Digital Youth Divas

Here’s the event information:

Event: Roundtable Discussion: Empowering Girls Through Technology

Where: The Literacenter — 641 West Lake St. (read more about Literacenter here)

When: Friday, June 9th from 11am to 1pm

RSVP here.

Come join the conversation and help fuel an equitable tech ecosystem in Chicago. Meet and network with computer trainers, nonprofit professionals, technologists, community advocates, and fellow residents who care about digital inclusion in Chicago. Please RSVP on Meetup so we can get an accurate count for lunch. Thank you!

The Connect Chicago Meetup is a monthly gathering of computer trainers, nonprofit professionals, and fellow residents who care about the digital lives of Chicagoans. In 2017, Meetups will be held downtown and some events (called Community Technology Forums) will be held at community learning & nonprofit sites across the city. Email me at dlinn@cct.org with any questions, concerns or ideas for future Connect Chicago Meetups.

 

Documentation from the Community Technology Forum at Greater Southwest Development Corporation

We’ve compiled the public notes and pictures from the April 22nd Community Technology Forum at the Greater Southwest Development Corporation (GSDC). This public-facing documentation will be followed up with a more detailed report from our partners at DePaul University who are presently analyzing and organizing the ideas generated by residents.

Community Technology Forums are participatory design sessions facilitated by Sheena Erete and Jessa Dickinson from the College of Computing and Digital Media at the DePaul University, hosted by leading local technology changemakers like GSDC, supported by Connect Chicago and Smart Chicago, and fueled by resident voices. So many conversations about technology happen in the Loop everyday — we’re pleased to work with so many people and partners to ensure that community-directed conversations about technology are elevated as well.

Pictures from the event are posted on the Smart Chicago Flickr account.

GSDC Community Technology Forum

Here is an agenda from the event:

We’ve compiled some of the documentation from the event in this Google Folder, a subfolder of the larger Connect Chicago Meetup Folder which houses even more resources and material from digital inclusion events. You can see some of the community maps and handouts we used at the Community Technology Forum in that Google Folder.

We also partnered with the City Bureau Documenters Program to capture public-facing notes from the day including broader themes, ideas, and discussion topics. City Bureau strives to “bring journalists and communities together in a collaborative spirit to produce responsible media coverage and encourage civic participation.” Our Documenter, Corli, took the notes below:

I was personally inspired by this work, excited to see how future Community Technology Forums in other neighborhoods will be similar or different. The more I have the privilege of co-organizing and attending sessions like the Community Technology Forum and the Array of Things Civic Engagement Events, the more I realize the value residents can bring to public technology planning processes. Technology and technology resources — whether they are public computer centers, wireless networks, or environmental sensors — can be deployed for residents and with residents’ input.

Read more about Community Technology Forums here.

To get regular digital inclusion updates, events, and news delivered to your inbox, fill out this form: bit.ly/joinconnectchi.

Announcing the April Connect Chicago Meetup: Digital Inclusion Asset Mapping

At the next Connect Chicago Meetup we will break into working groups to co-build a better shared inventory of public digital inclusion resources and assets. Unlike other Meetups, there will be no featured speaker. Instead, the focus will be on networking, problem solving, and group collaboration, much like what’s been done in our Connect Chicago working groups

Event: Digital Inclusion Asset Mapping

Where: The Chicago Community Trust

When: Friday, April 28th from 11am to 1pm

RSVP at this link.

Connent Chicago members are invited to join one of three breakout working groups to map out:

  • WiFi & public computing resources — This group will strategize ways to improve + expand + evangelize information about free place-based resources for digital inclusion. Here is an existing inventory to build on. 
  • Local Digital Inclusion Programs — This group will brainstorm all of the great work they know of in our network. They can strategize which types of partners should get more involved in local digital inclusion work & partnerships. One potential starting place can be this existing inventory.
  • Training Resources — This group will compile free online curriculum and digital learning platforms to be shared widely with Chicago’s digital inclusion community. They can build on and identify gaps in this existing collection.

Come join the conversation and co-build digital inclusion content to help fuel an equitable tech ecosystem in Chicago. Meet and network with computer trainers, nonprofit professionals, technologists, community advocates, and fellow residents who care about digital inclusion in Chicago. Please RSVP so we can get an accurate count for lunch. Thank you!

The Connect Chicago Meetup is a monthly gathering of computer trainers, nonprofit professionals, and fellow residents who care about the digital lives of Chicagoans. In 2017, Meetups will be held downtown and some events (called Community Technology Forums) will be held at community learning & nonprofit sites across the city. Email me with any questions, concerns or ideas for future Connect Chicago Meetups: dlinn@cct.org

Announcing the May 20th Community Technology Forum at Windsor Park Evangelical Lutheran Church

The second Community Technology Forum, an event hosted in partnership with the Windsor Park Lutheran Evangelical Church, Leave No Veteran Behind, Cambium Networks, DePaul University, the South Shore Planning Coalition, the Southeast Side Block Club Alliance, and Connect Chicago, will be on Saturday, May 20th. Our local partners for this event have previously collaborated to set up a community wireless network based out of Windsor Park Lutheran Evangelical Church.

Event: Community Technology Forum hosted at the Windsor Park Evangelical Lutheran Church

Date: Saturday, May 20, 2017

Time: 1pm — 4pm

Location: 2619 E 76th St.

Lunch will be served.

The Community Technology Forums are participatory design sessions aimed at understanding hyperlocal digital equity ideas, assets, and needs. Hosted in partnership with nonprofits and community anchor institutions in Chicago’s neighborhoods, these sessions will give residents an opportunity to articulate a vision for technology in their community. The forums will be facilitated by Professor Sheena Erete, Jessa Dickinson, and other community design experts at DePaul University.

For all interested in spreading the word and putting this event information on emails and websites (please do!), copy and share the write-up below:

You’re Invited to a Community Technology Forum at the Windsor Park Lutheran Church!

When: Saturday, May 20, 2017 from 1pm – 4pm

Where: 2619 E 76th St.

What: Join community members and local advocates for a civic conversation about the technology in your neighborhood. What do you love about your community and what is working well? ¿Qué te gusta de tu comunidad? What technology resources do you use a lot and appreciate? ¿Qué recursos tecnológicos utiliza mucho y aprecia? You’re invited to share your ideas and help design solutions that leverage what works to improve what doesn’t. This Community Technology Forum is hosted at the Windsor Park Lutheran Church in partnership with DePaul University, Leave No Veteran Behind, Cambium Networks, the South Shore Planning Coalition, the Southeast Side Block Club Alliance, the Smart Chicago Collaborative & Connect Chicago. Lunch will be provided! Sign up for more information and RSVP at bit.ly/chitechforum2.

Here is the flyer for this meeting:

If you are interested in attending the May 20th Community Technology Forum in South Shore or would like to receive more information, please fill out this form also embedded below:

 

Fill out my online form.

Announcing the April 22nd Community Technology Forum at Greater Southwest Development Corporation

The first Community Technology Forum, an event hosted in partnership with the Greater Southwest Development Corporation (GSDC), DePaul University, and Connect Chicago, will be on Saturday, April 22nd. GSDC, our local partner for this event, produces the Tech Thursdays workshop series and has been a featured speaker at Connect Chicago Meetups.

Event: Community Technology Forum hosted at the Greater Southwest Development Corporation

Date: Saturday, April 22, 2017

Time: 10am — 1pm

Location: 2601 W 63rd St.

A light breakfast will be served at the beginning of the event and lunch will be served toward the end of the event.

The Community Technology Forums are participatory design sessions aimed at understanding hyperlocal digital equity ideas, assets, and needs. Hosted in partnership with nonprofits and community anchor institutions in Chicago’s neighborhoods, these sessions will give residents an opportunity to articulate a vision for technology in their community. The forums will be facilitated by Professor Sheena Erete, Jessa Dickinson, and other community design experts at DePaul University.

Spread the word!

For all interested in spreading the word and putting this event information on emails and websites (please do!), copy and share the write-up below:

You’re Invited to a Community Technology Forum at the Greater Southwest Development Corporation!

When: Saturday, April 22, 2017 from 10am – 1pm

Where: 2601 W 63rd St.

What: Join community members and local advocates for a civic conversation about the technology in your neighborhood. What do you love about your community and what is working well? ¿Qué te gusta de tu comunidad? What technology resources do you use a lot and appreciate? ¿Qué recursos tecnológicos utiliza mucho y aprecia? You’re invited to share your ideas and help design solutions that leverage what works to improve what doesn’t. This Community Technology Forum is hosted at the Greater Southwest Development Corporation in partnership with DePaul University, the Smart Chicago Collaborative & Connect Chicago. Breakfast & lunch will be provided! Sign up for more information and RSVP at bit.ly/chitechforum1.

Here is the flyer for this meeting:

If you are interested in attending the April 22nd Community Technology Forum or would like to receive more information, please fill out this form also embedded below:
Fill out my online form.