Digital inequality is something that has impacted communities of color and poor communities for decades. The past year has shown just how vital access to the internet is, yet Cleveland is one of the least connected “big cities” in the country. With some 50,000+ households without an internet subscription at home in Cleveland, and Cuyahoga County with some 70,000+ household also without, we have a dire situation in our backyard. Kids schooling, seeing a doctor, currently doing many or applying for new jobs, filing for benefits, communicating with loved ones, and being entertained all require access to the internet.
ConnectedNEO is a grassroots organization informed and powered by residents of Northeast Ohio. We are equal parts digital equality advocacy group and technology solution organization. While there is good work happening to close the digital divide in our region, it doesn’t go far enough. Throwing that same drowning person a life preserver isn’t as impactful as giving them a boat. We believe there will always be a digital divide as long as there are “providers” and “customers”. This is why we have been pushing for, and building out plans for, cooperatively owned Internet Service Providers (ISPs) throughout Cleveland’s neighborhoods so that residents have a voice, a vote and control over the internet they use. Instead of just being a customer, you’re a user-owner. Instead of your money going to buy a CEO’s yacht, the surplus goes back into your community to help fund things *you* choose. We’ve seen what happens with utilities being shut off for those in need during the pandemic. Imagine if we *owned* the service and took care of our neighbors in times of need and shared benefits when times are good.
ConnectedNEO believes utilities should be controlled by residents. They’re more than a necessity; they’re a right. No one should get rich off of our rights. #DigitalPowerToThePeople