Start by going through the “Information for Decision Making” section to help you learn about the steps to take to become a connected community and the advantages of having and using broadband technology. In the “Jump Into Action” section, you’ll begin to think about your community and who might be a good champion for leading the community through the process.
Community members with enthusiasm about the Internet are key players. Consider inviting a different group of people than the same ones that get asked to help with every other project. Try connecting with youth and older adults, educators, non-profits groups, places of worship or the volunteer fire department. Be inclusive and make sure that all segments of the communities' population are represented.
Start with a small project that your community can accomplish in a few months. Even if your community goal is to increase the broadband infrastructure in the community, you'll need to start by introducing residents to the benefits first. Offering some demonstrations or classes, or facilitating individuals and groups sharing how they are using technology with each other is an important first step to getting more technology in the community.
You don't have to be the expert. Learn the basics through the online guide and presentation materials on the website and then find others who are knowledgeable and can work with you to help others learn.
You need a critical mass of people in the community to be interested enough to show up for events and discussions. A very small community may not have enough people to be able to change their current infrastructure situation. Large metropolitan areas probably have pretty good Internet infrastructure overall, but maybe the Internet is not being used much in a given neighborhood. These 'pockets' might benefit from some of education and content creation projects.
Yes. Small adjacent communities may benefit from joining together to get a greater number of participants. You could also work with groups from a specific neighborhood, ethnic background, age group, etc., although you will most likely work with education and content creation projects or possibly creating community technology centers for these groups.
Extension has always aimed to create better homes, better citizens, better communities, better rural living. Knowledge and use of broadband service has become a necessary infrastructure for economic and community development in the 21st Century global economy.
Get the conversation started. Find a team of people and invite the community to start thinking about their future. Find a local champion who can carry the community discussions and projects forward. An Extension Educator is not expected to be the person to oversee all the community projects that get designed.
Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Southern Rural Development Center.