Digital Democracy

Digital Democracy

Date Awarded
Grant Period
01/01/13 to 01/31/15
Focus Areas
Journalism, Media Innovation
Knight News Challenge

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For developing a mobile toolkit and training low-technology communities to collect and share information

In remote parts of the Peruvian Amazon, where mining and oil drilling are impacting the environment, health and economies of indigenous communities, residents lack the tools to collect and report these events to the outside world. Digital Democracy, a nonprofit that builds community technology capacity in marginalized communities, will create and combine existing open software to produce a tool kit communities can use to share their stories and make informed choices. The team will work with local partners in the Peruvian Amazon to deploy and test the tool kit and train residents in its use.

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Project Team

Emily Jacobi and Gregor MacLennan

Emily Jacobi is co-founder and Executive Director of Digital Democracy, a New York-based nonprofit that works globally to empower marginalized communities addressing human & environmental rights. Beginning her career as a youth journalist, at the age of 13 Emily reported from Havana, Cuba. She has since worked conducted media & technology projects with marginalized communities around the globe including migrant workers, women's groups, refugee youth and indigenous communities. Emily has written extensively on the use of technology for civic engagement, and has presented on the intersection of technology and human rights to US Congress, the State Department, the United Nations, and numerous universities and technology conferences.

Gregor MacLennan has worked on indigenous rights and environmental issues in the Peruvian Amazon for more than 10 years. Co-founder and advisor to the non-profit indigenous rights group Shinai, he spent 7 years living in Peru working with indigenous communities to defend their territory from incursions by illegal loggers and petroleum companies. Gregor has extensive experience in participative territory mapping, facilitating communities to draw maps of their territory and use GPS and satellite technologies to turn hand maps into detailed geographic representations of indigenous land use. Prior to joining Digital Democracy to lead the Remote Access initiative, Gregor worked for US-based campaign organization Amazon Watch as Peru Program Coordinator.

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