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Detroit Digital Justice Coalition

Detroit Digital Justice Coalition Story

A Vision for Digital Justice

The Detroit Digital Justice Coalition (DDJC) is comprised of people and organizations in Detroit who believe that communication is a fundamental human right. We are securing that right through activities that are grounded in the digital justice principles of access, participation, common ownership, and healthy communities.

The Detroit Digital Justice Coalition was originally founded to pursue an opportunity for funding to close the digital divide in Detroit. In 2009, Congress approved the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act which included a portion of funds dedicated to expanding broadband access for marginalized communities in the US, called the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. At the 2009 Allied Media Conference in Detroit, grassroots media organizers from around the country discussed how we could use BTOP to expand our work of building communications infrastructure to support social justice movements. We expanded the limited vision of "broadband adoption" to visions for "healthy digital ecologies" in which people not only had access to the Internet, but had the skills to use the Internet and other communication tools to transform their communities.

To develop the principles that would guide our work, the DDJC conducted a series of interviews amongst our founding members. The interviews explored how coalition members were using media and technology for community organizing or grassroots economic development and to describe their vision for "digital justice" in Detroit. We developed digital justice principles from common themes that emerged in these interviews.

In March of 2010, the DDJC partnered with Michigan State University to submit a proposal to the Broadband Technology Opportunities Program. In the Fall of 2010 we found out that we were awarded two grants - one to support improvements to public computer centers at DDJC member organizations and a second grant to support the launch of digital media training programs and a youth media network. With these grant funds, the DDJC launched the "Detroit Future" initiative, which was comprised of Detroit Future Media, Detroit Future Schools and Detroit Future Youth.

The DDJC developed and continues to engage the community through "DiscoTechs" or Discovering Technology Community Fairs. DiscoTech events are a space to learn about the impact and possibilities of technology within our communities. DiscoTechs feature interactive, multimedia workshops designed to demystify, engage, and inform the community about issues of Internet use and ownership, and our communications rights on and offline. The DDJC's DiscoTech model has spread far beyond Detroit as the model has been shared through sessions at the Allied Media Conference and through the 2012 publication of the How To DiscoTech zine. Learn more about Discotechs.