Anti-Poverty Connection

Patty Osborne

In 1997, when Internet connections were dial-up and most of us were just trying to figure out how the World Wide Web worked, a group of people had the foresight to see that the Internet could be a powerful tool for the anti-poverty movement. They created PovNet, a digital network that supports advocates in BC and across Canada. According to the book Storming the Digital Divide: The PovNet Story (Lazara), written by Penny Goldsmith and illustrated by Kara Sievewright and Nicole Marie Burton, the first post to PovNet’s welfare discussion board was from an advocate in Terrace, BC, who wrote “Hello, hello! Is anybody out there? I’m all alone…” Storming the Digital Divide is a graphic essay collection that covers the history of PovNet and the anti-poverty movement in BC, plus stories from remote communities such as Bella Coola and Haida Gwaii, where advocates use PovNet to help people with things like child custody disputes, housing problems, EI claims and appeals, and pension applications. PovNet continues to provide valuable resources to advocates who have made it their job to hunt for and interpret the information for their clients, but it can’t storm the digital divide all by itself. For this we need to increase access to the Internet for everyone, no matter where they live or how much money they have or don’t have. In our rush to embrace the newest technologies, it’s easy to leave people behind. This is an important little book and its comic-strip style of storytelling keeps readers engaged.

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