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Introducing Baltimore’s The Look Ahead, an interview series featuring digital equity and civic tech leaders

Hosted by reporter Donte Kirby, this video series will explore lessons from the pandemic year, and how they can be carried forward. In the first episode, Project Waves interim director Samantha Musgrave discusses community internet, and where the push for digital equity is heading.

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The challenges of the last year have accelerated work for change, and exposed gaps. How will it change us moving forward?

That’s among the questions we’ll be exploring with a new video series called Baltimore’s The Look Ahead. It’s an interview series that will feature local technologists, government officials and community stakeholders discussing how they navigated the pandemic year, and the lessons learned that’ll help living in the new world of remote work, internet access being essential, and a heightened level of public health consciousness.

Inspired by the DC Diaries series (which you should check out) this series will hopefully be a resource to those looking to find their footing as the world once again shifts.

In Baltimore, the switch to distance learning and remote work underscored the importance of digital connectivity. But in a city where 40% of households lack wireline internet, it brought a new wave of activism to close an already-existing digital divide, and create technology that serves civic aims. This raised awareness of digital equity — which refers to efforts to ensure that everyone has tech access for full participation in democracy and the economy — like never before. By the beginning of 2021, the issue became a priority as Mayor Brandon Scott took office, and federal funds were allocated to make broader investments. Yet this is long-term work. As the world transitions toward a more complicated period of reopening, This series will look to explore the lessons from the last 18 months, and how leaders view the prospects for continuing the work beyond the crisis moment of a pandemic.

The first interview in the series features a leader of one of the city’s prominent grassroots efforts to get more households connected to the internet: Samantha Musgrave, interim director of Project Waves. After organizing in neighborhoods prior to the pandemic, the community internet provider grew rapidly since March 2020, providing neighborhood Wi-Fi hubs broadcast from rooftops.

We chatted about Musgrave’s transition to a leadership role, and Project Waves’ more recent work in an East Baltimore neighborhood. Plus, we talked about the difference in the conversation about digital equity now in 2021 and before the pandemic in 2019, along with lessons learned about working in Baltimore.

Here’s the audio version:

Watch our conversation here:



Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation.

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