Northern New Mexico's Community Network

 

La Plaza - Developed by and for the Community

On December 7, 1994, the residents of Taos County witnessed the birth of New Mexico's first community network, La Plaza Telecommunity. Today, the La Plaza user is representative of the community at large, bridging age, culture, gender and socio-economic standing. Over 4000 residents have registered as users of La Plaza's graphical online Internet service since its inception. Located in the Sangre de Cristo mountains of Northern New Mexico, La Plaza is one of the few community networks with a high percentage of Hispanic and Native American users, reflective of the area's diverse population.

La Plaza will celebrate itís seventh birthday this year! We want to thank the community of Taos for itís continued support. To all of you who were there from the beginning you have much to be proud of. La Plazaís continued focus on the people of the Taos community has been key to the many successes we have achieved. Our telecommunity has grown in numbers and is truly helping to "bring the people of Northern New Mexico together" in new ways while respecting our communitiesí cultural diversities.

La Plaza has become a model for other rural communities locally, nationally and globally. La Plaza provides Internet connectivity to all Taos County residents, be it Taos Pueblo in the center of the county, Picuris Pueblo and Chamisal to the South or the remote Hispanic village of Costilla to the North. La Plaza is providing these remote villages, towns and Native American pueblos in the mountains of Northern New Mexico an alternative method for communicating. Communities once isolated by distance, snow packed roads in the winter and expensive telephone long distance rates can now exchange information via the Internet by simply dialing locally to the remote servers in their area. The first to provide broad bandwith in Taos, we now provide Wireless T-1 speed connection to the Town of Taos, Holy Cross Hospital, Questa Village offices, the Cisneros Youth and Family Center, the Penasco School District and La Jicarita Enterprise Community. We were awarded the AOL Rural Telecommunications Leadership Award for demonstrating how rural communities can bring high broad bandwidth speed to their citizens who are being bypassed by regional and national service providers.  Below is a brief history of La Plaza and all the wonderful things we have done and are doing.

La Plaza's mission to improve communication and information sharing in Northern New Mexico has become reality as it provides Taos tri-cultural communities with access to information technology resources, education in computer and internet technology and a virtual library of regional information.

Free public access sites have been made available to Taosenos from the most Northern part of the county in Questa and San Cristobal to its most southern point in Penasco. In the Town of Taos, public access is available not only at La Plaza's main location but also at the Taos Municipal Library. Taos Municipal Schools administrators and staff utilize their connection to La Plaza to communicate with each other and submit reports to the state Department of Education.  They have provided public access sites as another means of encouraging parent involvement in their children's education.

Over 1200 residents visit La Plaza's community access sites on a monthly basis and over 2000 pay a reasonable fee for Internet access. Some send email to sons and daughters away at college and others use the public access to keep in touch with friends and family worldwide. Taosenos of all ages surf the World Wide Web looking for information of importance or interest to them.

Students throughout Taos county are able to learn new skills as they navigate the world via school computer labs hooked up to La Plaza. "Aprender es avanzar" (Learn and you will advance) has taken on a whole new meaning in the mountains of Northern New Mexico . Teachers in Penasco, Questa and Taos have been provided training on how to integrate the Internet into their classrooms through funding from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation.

La Plaza was one of ten organizations nationwide selected by the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the Benton Foundation as a regional Internet training site for OPEN STUDIO: THE ARTS ONLINE.  La Plaza partnered with Artesanos de Questa and La Jicarita Enterprise Community in Penasco to provide training, access, and support in information technology to under-served artists in Taos County, where La Plaza provides Internet connectivity and free public access sites.  Local artists learned how to post artwork online, disseminate cultural information via the Internet, and link with the arts community across the country and globally.

La Plaza Telecommunity was awarded a grant from the McCune Charitable Foundation to incorporate Taos youth into OPEN STUDIO: The Arts online. The project provided young people in the Taos community opportunities to explore career options in the arts and technology. The students created digital stories that utilized all the skills they learned throughout the year.

La Plaza provides training and education in computer and Internet technology by providing community outreach trainers in the various public access sites. From learning how to use email to how to develop a Web Site, hands on training for youth, senior citizens and others is helping to create communities of life long learners that can participate more fully in an ever changing world.

La Plaza and the Town of Taos have hosted an E-Commerce Summit for the past two years. This exciting event offers a series of e-commerce information-sharing workshops for New Mexico entrepreneurs and small business owners. It is packed with information that helps attendees understand how and when to integrate the Internet into their business.

Locally relevant content can be found on the La Plaza Web Site (http://www.laplaza.org/) whereby Taos residents share with each other and the world by publishing on the World Wide Web. Through their training programs and other community outreach, La Plaza is truly "bringing the people of Taos and Northern New Mexico" together in a new way.

Through a U.S. Department of Commerce TIIAP grant, La Plaza in partnership with Indian Health Services, Health Centers of Northern NM and Presbyterian Medical Services helped build healthier communities in the Taos area by providing computers and internet access to Health Clinics located in Questa, Penasco and Taos Pueblo.

La Plaza also bulit a web site called teh Diabetes Wellnes Connection where locally relevant diabetes health information is provided along with regional and naitonal information. The Native American Diabetes Project "Strong in Body and Spirit program is hosted on the web site. The project's goal is to help people eat healthy foods and increase exercise.

Through funding from the New Mexico Department of Health in partnership with Holy Cross Hospital Community Wellness Program, La Plaza is providing training for 8 area youth in media literacy, tobacco use, prevention and control issues, and website design during the 2001-2002 school year. In return youth will research and produce web based media addressing tobacco issues including health effects of tobacco use, costs of tobacco use, second hand smoke, addictive nature of tobacco, and use of tobacco advertising to attract adolescents.

La Plaza Telecommunity has truly become a vibrant viable community network model, not only by providing access to the information super highway, but by also becoming a conduit for Taosenos to communicate freely with each other in a manner that embraces the rich tri-cultural way of life of Northern New Mexico.


For questions regarding our website:
   E-Mail - La Plaza Telecommunity