Summer 2004

Spotlight: David Keyes
by anonymous

David Keyes
David Keyes is the Community Technology Program Manager for the City of Seattle Department of Information Technology and is Policy Chair on the Board of Directors of CTCNet. David was the first community technology planner in the country and developed the city's citizens' literacy and access programs starting in 1997.

David has been working in the field of community and civic applications of technology for 26 years. His prior experience includes community access television development, legal services and community legal education, housing advocacy, teen media literacy, online course authoring, community organizing, and educational television production. He has worked for non-profits, schools, industry and government. David grew up in Milwaukee, taught juggling at Yale, and rode upriver in Borneo on his way to live in Tasmania. He is a graduate of Antioch College and the University of Washington Evans School of Public Affairs. He is on the steering committee of his neighborhood's Columbia City Revitalization Committee (CCRC).

David received the 2003 Technology to Empower Communities (TEC) award for outstanding community technology leaders presented at the Congressional Black Caucus (CBC) annual legislative conference. Here is his overview:

General Work

The City of Seattle's Community Technology Program provides a range of direct access and training, research and support services for the development of community technology centers, technology healthy communities, and electronic civic engagement. This includes free Internet terminals in public buildings, work with the Parks Department to establish CTCs in community centers, a Community Technology Site Directory, a Technology Matching Fund grant program, the Information Technology Indicators Project, a monthly Brainstorm community technology e-zine, an Info Age education curriculum, and the Comcast/City of Seattle community access broadband Internet connectivity project.

I am also on the founding board of the Puget Sound Alliance for Community Technology (PSACT).

Current Work in Policy

As Policy Chair of CTCNet, we just passed a policy framework that cements our role as policy advocates and creates a path for the national organization to work with regional and local members to build their strength as advocates and enable national advocacy for specific legislation and supporting policy. We've also just completed a policy web site for CTCNet.

At the City and regionally, we're starting to build a stronger awareness of what state policy initiatives are possible. This past year we completed work on the development of a Technology and Justice Bill of Rights under the leadership of the state Access to Justice committee. Within the City, I'm working to infuse technology into our development of a citywide Race and Social Justice initiative and bring race and social justice work into the policies of our IT Department. We're also in the midst of a community needs assessment for our cable refranchising that will guide the City's positions as it enters negotiations.

I recently met with a government group from Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Russia about starting a CTC there.


For most people, community technology is not a unique recognizable work or constituency. Our work really supports youth, crime prevention, senior health, refugee resettlement, government services, etc. It's critical to frame our work in those contexts which people care deeply about and in abbreviated terms which busy folks and policymakers can latch on to. I think we've been successful at the City working internally and with community organizations to make clear how community technology support serves the city's core mission.

It's also been challenging to get people to carve out the time to become directly engaged. I think we're still trying to negotiate this one.

Advice for Other Practitioners

Create simple messages and demands backed with facts and human stories. You are experts in your field and community users are experts in their experiences...and have voting power. Use it.

Utilize the networks of influence that exist already in your community. Develop long term communications with legislators; start this even before they run for office. There's a new tip sheet and resources on the CTC policy web site. Also, do use the resources of the California Community Tech Policy Group and the Techpolicybank. Develop relations with staff at the local, county, and state level so that they understand your program and become your allies and champions internally.

Opportunities for Growth

First, I think there are vital needs and opportunities to question and advocate for improved policies in workforce training, education, public safety and human services which recognize and address community technology centers as vital community institutions. Court settlements and regulatory fees and licenses have only been touched on. We're giving away spectrum and not fostering enough private reinvestment in needy communities.

Most importantly, I think we're starting to recognize our role in training community members to be engaged. It's a very tough climate right now, but I'm excited about the greater democracy and greater voice for what's really happening in our own community and those across the world that can result from this approach.

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