On July 26, CCI kicked off a new project to bring community internet to the Valley: Clear Fork Southern Connected Communities Equitable Internet Initiative. We lit up the Institute with a new WiFi connection that will provide WiFi throughout the whole Institute, not just the Cybercafe (though you are welcome to come visit with us and learn computer skills in the Cafe on Tuesdays and Thursdays 9am to 9pm! Let us know what you want to learn.)
Jamie Greig and April Jarocki from the Southern Connected Communities Project along with visitors Raul Enriquez and Greta Byrum from Community Tech NY worked with Chris Eastridge, Marie Webster, Donny Jarocki, Midge Eastridge, and Darryl Coker to plan, set up, and test the new WiFi system.
Then, we built two Portable Network Kits that we can use to share the new connection across CCI’s grounds. A Portable Network Kit is a self-enclosed, waterproof mini-network that can extend the range of a WiFi network. Equitable Internet Initiative network workshop participants learned how to build mini-computers, connect power and networking gear, build all the gear into a kit, and check if network connections are working. We also practiced using a local network — chatting, sharing pictures, and collaborating on shared documents — without needed to use (or pay for!) an Internet connection. Our hope is to get the community connected without having to rely on the whims of big corporations. Next steps for the project include a study scheduled for late August or early September to figure out how to get connections to other places in the Eagan and Clear Fork area. The survey will be an important step as CCI, SCCP, and CTNY look for ways to get low-cost WiFi to CCI’s neighbors.
The community internet study will be open to community members who want to learn technology skills to build our own internet! Let April Jarocki know if you want to participate.