As part of Our City Our Voices, Media Mobilizing Project (MMP) in partnership with Juntos has launched a new drupal based participatory website. The Our City Our Voices portal is part of a network of community portals MMP has developed to create dynamic spaces for communities across the city to tell and share stories and get information. The aim of the network of community portals is to develop new spaces for folks disenfranchised by the digital age to have a place to speak and listen. The project entails 4 steps: 1) find and distribute low cost internet access to immigrants, students, low wage workers through subsidized subscriptions or use of Philadelphia’s wireless network, 2) get those same individuals hardware including computers and other necessary equipment, 3) train people in basic computer and Web skills as well as video production and journalism skills and 4) create community platforms (from Web to radio) for those same communities to produce and distribute media.

So as part of this MMP has developed a series of 4 community portals focused on themes around Philadelphia from labor, to education and housing. Each of these themes has it’s own portal and community editorial team, which is responsible for getting an increasing number of folks engaged. Each of the specific community portals also RSS feeds into the a central community portal seen above.

Currently we are training folks in how to use these sites and in the future we expect the sites to become a dynamic thriving space for community voices to be heard across the city. We fully recognize that while the development of the site took time and energy the real energy comes in the next phase of getting communities engaged and identifying with the site.

The expectation here is push against or build upon the citizen/public journalism movement creating space to create a “community journalism movement.” The difference here is that while public journalism focuses on folks that already have Web access and other forms of cultural and social capital, this project focuses on individuals and communities that do not have access and otherwise have few venues to have their voices heard in the public sphere. Below is a picture of the Our City Our Voices web portal.