Monique Tate is a Detroiter, community and digital equity activist, long-time Digital Steward, and Co-Director of Community Technology New York. We spoke with Monique about her thoughts and experiences with Digital Stewardship and community networks.
You have been trained as a Digital Steward, managed a network, and trained others as Digital Stewards. Why do you do this work and what keeps you committed?
I truly do this work because I love it! I love creating Tech based opportunities for our unserved & underserved communities, which are predominantly inhabited by people of color. I want our communities to have the same access to internet high speeds and digital services as more affluent communities. I’m highly inspired by informing and educating people about Tech, the necessity of being connected, getting equipment, and acquiring digital literacy skills. I get ecstatic when we inspire community residents to become Digital Stewards and pique their interest to learn more about Tech and potentially enter the field. What keeps me committed is my desire to positively impact the lives of people through educating them; especially young people who only need sincere and caring people to expose them to positive alternatives to change their trajectory! I’m both rewarded by & honored to help community members discover their Tech genius!!
If you could wave a wand and change any one thing in the tech world, what would you change?
I would require ALL Internet Service Providers to participate in what I have termed “Digital Philanthropy” that is the donation of high speed internet/fiber to Community Networks! Community Networks are those owned/governed, managed, and maintained by trained residents. Providing opportunities for community and residents wealth building
What is your favorite thing about Community Tech and Digital Stewardship?
There are too many to site just one thing. My favorite things about Community Technology are seeing people’s fear, anxiety, frustration, and the like, with Tech disappear and their understanding of and interest in Tech blossom. However, I can say my favorite thing about Digital Stewardship is inspiring people to go beyond their expectations of themselves and discover their inner Tech genius, gifts, & talents!
What does someone unfamiliar with Digital Stewardship need to know about it?
They need to know they can do it! And regardless of the complexity in the wireless networking and engineering skills they will acquire, their Instructors are committed to breaking down the information and delivering it in a way that is easy to understand. They should also know we seek to educate all who are interested in Digital Stewardship and do not require any prerequisite of Tech knowledge. We are fully committed to grow the Tech Industry with black, brown/LatinX, Indigenous people and women.
Digital Stewardship began in Detroit 10 years ago, what do you think the next 10 years will look like?
I believe the intervention and influence of Tech in our lives will grow exponentially faster than the past 10 years, thereby making advanced tech knowledge a necessity for our existence. Subsequently this means we need to vision work in dual arenas in the community now! Within the next one to two years, I see Digital Steward recruitment and training beginning in High School summer youth workforce and after school programming. I’d like to see us creating and beginning a Digital Steward Apprentice Track for 4th - 8th graders within the next three to five years and a goal to begin a Digital Steward Awareness track for Kindergarten to 3rd graders within the next five to eight years. Though these are very young numeric ages, their tech awareness ages are significantly advanced from being introduced to it by one year old. We need to capitalize on this opportunity and educate the generation that will be adults in 10 years so they will already be prepared to take over, escalate, and continue their community networks, along with having professions in tech.