This past Fall, a conversation started around finding a way to get our neighborhood connected to the Internet, for free or for cheap. At that time I was talking with Ross Tennent of Union Tech Cooperative after making introductions for another purpose. Ross shared some websites with information and a handful of folks started kicking around the idea more. Our solution was to slowly build an open mesh network, run with several small connections as gateways and many repeaters in between, and all administered by us. A true DIY experience, for sure.
Well, months later, an announcement was made by the City’s Digital Technology Committee that funds were available for a pilot program or two that addressed the “digital divide” in Madison’s lower income or challenged communities. Naturally, what we’re slowly working on was a good fit so I drew up a proposal and headed downtown on May 8th to say my piece about what we wanted our project to be.
On the City side, things are progressing how I imagine they’re supposed to. On our side, I’ve shared this idea with others, including a contact at 5NINES and also Heartland Credit Union, so things are in motion. We’ll see with what speed we can move this along. Maybe comprehensive tech solutions are in our near future. Of course, it would be beneficial to run a community-wide wi-fi here, plus have a loaner library of computers and classes to go with them, and it’s even possible to train young adults at some facets of network services. What’s great is that Worthington Park has residents with tech backgrounds. Regardless of what timeline this gets put on it’s comforting to know that when things move forward we have several residents with what it takes to make a successful project grow right here in their front yards.