I had the pleasure of visiting Rose & Taylor this afternoon; Tino Hines gave me a much needed haircut, and did quite well at it. I must admit to feeling slightly awkward being the only white guy there, but they were an affable and congenial group. I remarked on how well the first Community Forum went, and Tino said they had received a lot of positive feedback. I also found out from Chris (Williams?) that the next community forum is slated for February 26th and will be on Economics. It sounds like they are changing the format just a little to give more folks a chance to speak a little, but also a panel to pick the brains the of the lucky few sitting up front.
We talked a little about the impact of UC2B, and Tino expressed a bit of enthusiasm bespeaking the benefits of getting neighbors online and getting used to acquiring skills that are in such high demand these days. He is excited about this. We also chatted a little about work that Brian Bell is doing at Parkland with his free computer literacy classes.
While I personally remain skeptical that UC2B will open up the doors to the workforce in such utopian ways, I certainly feel the compelling attraction – people like Tino who have grown up in Champaign and intimately know all the small quirks and have the context of history know that “idle hands are the devil’s tools”, and very much want to see those idle hands getting jobs. And right now, apparently the perception is that if you can work a computer well, or have some rudimentary web skills, you can do just that. Is this in fact true? I understand the logic, but does having those basic skills really open up doors?
In any event, I am excited about the upcoming Economic Forum.
I did seriously consider whether or not this post belongs on a blog supposedly aimed at a school district. After debating with myself, I am clicking “Publish” because I see a very vital and critical connection between the community and what the school district is supposed to be doing. And where I am at right now, community forums seem like an awesome way to pull otherwise diverse people together. Much more so that any electronic medium I have come across. And much more so than any meeting I have gritted my teeth through.