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Community Activist Thinks She Can Bridge Digital Divide on South Side

By Sam Cholke | June 11, 2013 8:11am
SouthSide Chicago Goes Hi-Tech
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Ava St. Claire

SOUTH SHORE — One tech-savvy community activist wants to help bridge the digital divide for residents on the South Side, but needs help raising money to make her dream a reality.

Ava St. Claire is trying to raise $11,500 for training to build a platform that will help block club presidents and community groups reach members who might be comfortable with a phone, but not texting, and know their way around e-mail, but are lost when presented a Facebook invite.

“We have a community that’s half in and half out as far as social media,” St. Clair said.

St. Clair has a model for bringing together word-of-mouth and social networking to connect neighborhoods like South Shore, where the level of comfort with technology can vary wildly depending on one’s age and income bracket.

“What I’ve been working on is a way to integrate the ways we communicate,” St. Clair said. “I’ve stalled on the project because I don’t have the tech skills to take it to where it needs to go.”

St. Clair is trying to raise $11,500 on the fundraising website Indiegogo to attend Dev Bootcamp, an intensive nine-week training session on programming and web development.

As of Monday, St. Clair had raised $180 toward her goal, with 23 days left to raise the rest.

As an incentive, the college-trained graphic designer and urban planner is offering two hours of consulting for a $100 pledge, a custom logo and social media publication for a $300 pledge and a website for an $800 pledge.

She said she hopes people will respond to the flat rate for a service that can be difficult to find in neighborhoods like South Shore.

“Minorities don’t do hourly rates, we don’t understand that,” she said, adding that the reticence can make it difficult for small neighborhood organizations and businesses to develop a strong presence online.

St. Clair didn’t want to give too much of her idea away, but said she thinks she’s close to crossing that digital divide and reconnecting the conversations in the community.

“I’m hopeful. I’m sure we’ll figure it out,” she said.