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Pepsi Challenge Grant: Lifting the Digital Curtain

Many communities across the United States, especially rural communities and communities of color, live behind a digital divide. They don’t have access to the same online organizing tools as urban white upper and middle class neighborhoods. And, at the same time, progressives find it difficult to engage the under-served.

Each year, at Netroots Nation, bloggers bemoan the fact that too few people of color are included or heard. We reach out again and again to the blogging world to recruit African Americans, Hispanics, Native Americans and other people of color. And each year we fall short of the mark because we cannot find the activists we seek in sufficient numbers among bloggers.

I have a different kind of idea. Let’s help leaders of community health coalitions attend Netroots Nation to introduce them to online organizing tools. More below the jump:

Cross-posted at Native American Netroots

Communities Joined in Action is a national alliance of community health coalitions working to end disparities in health care. CJA believes health care is a Civil Rights issue and it works to create Civil Rights facts on the ground by teaching coalitions in underserved communities to use the Affordable Care Act and other tools to insure access to quality health care among the poor, people of color, the homeless and other hard-to-reach populations.

This year, we have created a Marketing and New Media Committee dedicated to teaching coalitions to build power through community organizing, and to make use of online organizing tools. We have submitted a Pepsi Challenge Grant to bring 24 coalition participants to Netroots Nation in Providence, RI to caucus with bloggers and to learn on and offline organizing techniques.

IMG_6069Last year, I brought three colleagues from Rio Arriba County in Northern New Mexico, to Netroots Nation in Minneapolis. (Here I am with David Trujillo after a long day of flying. Photo Credit to navajo.) We attended the Native American and Latino Caucuses as well as workshops in community organizing, messaging, online tools, etc. Since then, we have hired a Public Information Officer, revamped our County and health council websites, even including a blog so that we can communicate directly with the public (unmediated by our Fox-like local paper).

In a week and a half, mindoca is coming to Rio Arriba County to teach a team of us to use (and teach others to use) new media tools such as Twitter, Facebook and blogs. She's going to teach us to incorporate their use into advocacy campaigns, marketing of our website and blog, community strengthening activities and legislative action. Mindoca also came out to the annual CJA conference in Washington DC where she trained coalitions to use online tools in their organizing efforts, and to organize to build community power.

We want to come back to NN this year and we want to bring colleagues from other communities of color with us. We want to come back in force.

I, TheFatLadySings, known to my non-blogging friends as Lauren Reichelt, have been tapped to chair this new CJA Marketing and New Media committee. I have submitted a Pepsi Challenge Grant for $50,000 to help Communities Joined in Action to bring a large CJA delegation to NN 2012. And I will help CJA to develop webinars to teach community coalitions across the US to use some of these tools.

We need your help. Specifically, we need you to promote and vote for our grant application.  Go to refresheverything and sign up for an account with Pepsi. Then go to :Lifting the Digital Curtain and vote for us. You can vote once a day. We certainly hope you will vote times for us every day in December!

IMG_6216If funded, our grant will also send two members of Native American Netroots who would not otherwise be able to go, to Providence. And NAN will help Communities Joined in Action to recruit Native American Coalitions as members. (This is navajo's photo of navajo, meteor blades, Lucia Sanchez and Raymond Ortiz at the NAN caucus last year.)

We hope to see you at Providence. We hope to be able to tell you there about the many wonderful facets of the Affordable Care Act that are helping us to eliminate health disparities. And we hope to learn from you to use online tools to register and mobilize our communities to vote.

Help us to help you by voting for: Lifting the Digital Curtain

And tell a friend.

We need diarists to help us promote this cause every day in December. Sign up for a day in the comment thread below.

Originally posted to TheFatLadySings on Fri Dec 02, 2011 at 01:18 PM PST.

Also republished by Personal Storytellers.

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