On Saturday, November 4, "Nothin' But Free-Net: The Information Super
Highway Comes to East Austin" introduced about 200 children and adults in the
low-income communities of East Austin to the world of advanced electronic
communications. This community event offered East Austin residents an opportunity to take part in the growing "virtual community" of the Internet.
The event took place at the Booker T. Washington
Family Learning Center, from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m.. Participants "surfed" the World Wide Web; communicated via e-mail with participants in a community computing initiative in East Lansing, Michigan; experimented with computerized games, digital photography, and computer art programs; and enjoyed a variety of music, food, and door prizes. The event marked a fun, exciting beginning for the public access computer station that is being developed at the Family Learning Center, which will continue to offer East Austin residents free access to the Internet and the World Wide Web.
"Nothin' But Free-Net" was sponsored by
- Southwestern Bell Telephone (SWB).
SWB generously provided 15 telephone lines for this event to allow the
attendees to "surf the Net" in real time.
- Austin CableVision. Austin CableVision generously donated money
to pay expenses related to this event. They don't have a specific URL, but
their parent company, Time Warner, does.
- Illuminati Online (IO). IO is an Internet service provider. This company
contributed 10 Internet access accounts and also donated on-site technical
- OuterNet Connection Strategies. OuterNet provides Internet connections
for businesses. For this event, it allowed Nothin' but FreeNet to use 10 Internet
access accounts and provided on-site technical assistance.
"Nothin' But Free-Net" also had a great coalition of community
organizations and corporate partners:
- Austin Free-Net (AFN)
provides community computing resources for the benefit of Austin area
citizens and is the heart of this event. Through public access sites, the
AFN seeks to provide every Austinite with access to the Internet/National
Information Infrastructure by the year 2000. The AFN is a nonprofit
community organization with partners in Austin's educational, civic, and
corporate communities. AFN is also affiliated with the National Public Telecomputing
Network, an alliance of community computing networks in over 50
cities in the United States and the world.
- The Austin Learning Academy is a community consortium of
individuals and organizations that are united in support of education, job
training, and family support efforts in Austin's low-income neighborhoods.
ALA's primary focus is the Family Learning Centers which operate in eight
Austin public housing developments.
- The Family Learning Centers are a project of the Austin
Learning Academy. Operating in eight public housing developments across
the city, the FLC provides an array of education, community service, job
training, and family support services. Because they are located close to
public housing sites, FLCs provide a setting whereteachers and service
providers can work side-by -side with parents.
- The LBJ School of
Public Affairs offers for the 1995-96 school year a course titled
"Bytes for Low-Income Communities". This Policy Research Project (PRP)
has attracted a group of graduate students and faculty whose shared
interest is elevating community awareness and usage of electronic
information technologies. The PRP's role for the November 4th event was to coordinate the efforts of the various contributors.
A Model of Community Access
The primary concern of this coalition is to address the education,
communication, and information needs of people in low-income communities.
People can enhance their lives by connecting to critical educational,
health, and social services being offered on the Internet.
The ALA, the AFN, the FLC, and the LBJ School of Public Affairs are jointly
developing a model of community access to electronic information systems in
public housing developments. We are committed to cultivating our youth and
introducing them to ways they can use electronic communications in their
We are seeking corporate sponsors, individual contributions, and
volunteers to support this continuing effort . If you are interested in participating,
or if you'd like more information, please click HERE.
The partners in this endeavor are very interested in making a model that
works. We are constantly seeking to expand our awareness of resources for
this purpose. Your participation and thoughts would be greatly
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