A digital divide: Pennsylvania Influencer Project wants your questions on rural broadband access

It’s tempting sometimes to see the internet as a plaything, delivering cat videos, jokes from high school friends and pictures from your uncle’s brunch.

But for thousands of Pennsylvania families without high-speed broadband, the internet is no punchline. Rural communities without robust digital access are missing revolutionary advancements in how we take care of ourselves, teach ourselves, find work and build a better life.

That disparity is leading off an important conversation between you and the leaders and influencers in our commonwealth — the Pennsylvania Influencer Project.

With support from the Knight Foundation, the Centre Daily Times and its parent company McClatchy have chosen 14 influential Pennsylvanians to tackle one of the most pressing issues in the state: the rural broadband crisis. Our aim is to link you, our readers, with these experts in a civil, thoughtful discussion about solutions that elected officials and communities can pursue together.

Our Influencers include Tammy Gentzel at the Centre County United Way, internet freedom activist Sascha Meinrath and Wayne Campbell of the Pennsylvania State Grange. These leaders represent the spectrum of ideas, skills and can-do spirit that drive central Pennsylvania — from agriculture to academia, public service to entrepreneurship.

We want to know what questions you have for the Influencers and how their insight — and leadership — can help navigate this crisis. Below is an open survey — asking you to express the biggest concerns and challenges amid this digital deficiency.

We’ll use your guidance to chart the dialogue as we survey the Influencers and bring them together for a live, public event on April 24 at The State Theatre. There, we’ll discuss solutions to the issues you identify.

We hope you will join us.

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