A note from Emily

December 15, 2014

Dear friends of Digital Democracy,

As I write to share Dd’s news from the year past & the year ahead, I find myself caught between dueling emotions.

Haiti pic.jpg

On the one hand, I feel immense pride in what the Dd team has accomplished in 2012. We’ve continued to push the envelope, demonstrating how technology can, should & must be used to promote human rights & citizen engagement. Yet, my joy is tempered by another strong emotion: Fear. From economic recession to devastating climate change, we humans are facing complex challenges on a global scale.

Dd exists because we believe new collaborations are necessary to resolve these seemingly intractable problems. We envision a future where all people can participate in the decisions that impact their lives, and where voices of people from the most-affected communities are an integral part of designing solutions.

We’ve seen what happens when this is true. A few years ago, the idea that a US President would visit Burma/Myanmar in light of its transition towards democracy seemed impossible. Now after five decades of military dictatorship, Burmese citizens – including the friends we have worked with over the years – are working for reform, accessing previously censored information, and using technology to participate as citizens, including documenting President Obama’s recent visit. In Haiti, our partners have transformed from life under threat of daily violence in post-earthquake tent camps to being leaders who use their data-based reports to influence national governance and provide services to thousands of women. In a remote part of Mexico, our partners use a satellite phone to coordinate with a legal team against threats of force eviction.

In July, the Dd team & Board of Directors met in Port-au-Prince to plan for Ddʼs future. Drawing upon lessons-learned from our programs in Burma, Haiti and beyond, we examined what makes our work successful. We focused on selection criteria for new programs, asking, “Where can we make the greatest impact?”

We agreed: Dd exists to push the edge of innovation to include marginalized voices. In pursuing new programs, we’re focusing on impacting complex global problems at the nexus of human & environmental rights. In 2013, this means many exciting things. In Haiti, we will host a Hackathon in February, fully transfer the technology systems to our local partners, and create a report to share our process to inform similar work around the globe. We’re deepening our commitment in Mexico, expanding our work in New York City & focusing on a tool-building initiative called Remote Access to ensure remote communities at risk of some of the worst human rights & environmental abuses have tools to document & address them. Beginning in the Amazon, this will not only help protect indigenous tribes from environmental devastation, it will help protect a bio-diverse region essential to all our futures.

Often I remind myself, "Action is the antidote to despair." Although fear is a reminder why our work matters, it is the hope, vision and success stories from our partners that keep us going. If you, too, feel inspired to play a role in this transformation, please support Dd today.

With deep gratitude,

Emily Jacobi

Co-Founder & Executive Director

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