Opinion: What Happens When a Community Prioritizes an Issue

Covering the digital divide with a clear sense of what can be done about it

Luis Ruelas works on installing high-speed broadband at the Buena Vista Migrant Center in Watsonville. The result of a collaboration between business, civic and philanthropic groups that came together to form Equal Access Santa Cruz County, the project was completed this month. PHOTO: ALANA MATTHEWS

Editor's Note

Steve Palopoli Profile Photo

We have been writing about the “digital divide”—that line separating technology’s haves and have-nots—for years. Even more so in the pandemic, during which we’ve reported on, for instance, the 30% of Santa Cruz County kids whose families didn’t have internet access at home when the pandemic started, making it difficult or impossible for them to participate in distance learning.  

What’s usually missing in stories about the digital divide is a clear sense of what can be done about it. Like so many of the issues in this country rooted in race and class, it is often treated like a foregone conclusion—if there are haves, there are going to be have-nots, and that’s just the way it is.

What’s so important about Liza Monroy’s cover story this week is that it shows what happens when people from different sectors of the community question why it has to be that way, and then work together to figure out how they can change it. Now, you might say this is an only-in-Santa-Cruz kind of story—where else is there going to be a local, independent internet service provider like Cruzio that cares about social justice, a local philanthropic organization like Community Foundation Santa Cruz County that understands the importance of this issue and is willing to prioritize it, and a school system that can work with them? But I’d argue that it is possible to replicate the success that the resulting partnership Equal Access Santa Cruz County has had, and that’s why I’m excited to get this story out there on our cover this week.

Also, a quick note about my cover story on Jordan Graham’s new film last week: Several readers wrote to scold me for mentioning the Moon Rocks in Bonny Doon without including that they are not open to the public, and there are fines for trespassing. All true, so don’t go there! It’s guarded by Sator anyway, from what I hear, and that guy is bad news.



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