Through the Community Technology Partnership, the Open Technology Institute and the Detroit Community Technology Project have provided seed grants to 11 community-controlled infrastructure projects this year.
Digital communication and technology has been an important tool for enhanced local community media, improved transparency, and organizing on social justice issues. However, technology has also been used within systems of control to monopolize the creation and distribution of information, channel communication through large private companies, enhance surveillance, and exacerbate disparities between groups that have the resources to benefit from a new technology-based economy and those that do not.
To resist these systems, people continue to build community-based technology projects and demonstrate an alternative vision. We find these small acts of resistance to digital control in neighborhoods, small towns, and rural areas around the world inspiring and rich with lessons in what the role of technology can be to restore neighborhoods, build new relationships, and develop new systems that encourage collaboration and creativity.
We focused on projects using a community organizing process to plan, build and govern shared communications infrastructure. Each of the projects has a common vision of community technology and digital justice that includes:
- Mutual learning that encourages practice and action, investigation and listening
- Participatory planning and collaborative design
- Collective self-governance
Each of the partners received $10,000 in support of their projects. The 2015 Community Technology Partners are:
AlterMundi is an organization that researches, experiments and disseminates technologies and practices that facilitate the development of a sustainable society, tending to the common good and in harmony with the environment. They will document the technical and social aspects of their successful network so others may replicate their model, and will add support for local applications support to their networks.
Alternative Solutions For Rural Communities, Chin State, Myanmar
This project will build the capacity and stability of an existing community network established by the organization, and allow them to add local server content and increase digital literacy training.
Collective of Community Radio and TV in North Kivu (CORACON), Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo
Building on their network of community media partners, CORACON will facilitate the establishment of a community network to support the creation of local digital media content and sharing of educational content. The network will provide a chat communication platform, radio programming, and educational resources in French. In partnership with Free Press Unlimited.
Falanster was founded to create the foundation and conditions for sustainable development of civil and cultural side of our society through use of digital technologies. Falanster is establishing a Mesh Club to share information and practice about wifi and mesh networks in our society.
Fantsuam Foundation, Kafanchan, Nigeria
Fantsuam Foundation will link five rural communities together and will provide services, including: telephony, local government budgeting and education. The project will also rebuild the Fantsuam solar system. To maintain the network, Fantsuam will train a new generation of wireless and solar technicians. See more…
School of Computing University of Namibia (UNAM) and Glowdom Educational Foundation (GEF), Connecting Eenhana, Namibia
Staff and students at UNAM are in partnership with GEF, an NGO that works to support learning amongst community members of the small town of Eenhana and surrounding villages. The project aims to support generating and sharing local content and to increase access of schools to educational content, including for learners and students at a Special school for Deaf learners. It also enables UNAM’s students to apply their technical knowledge in the real world in supporting local technological empowerment. The evolving network includes an intranet of digital content, analog telephony, a digital noticeboard and solar-powered nodes. See more…
Janastu, COW (Community Owned Wireless) for Devarayanadurga, India
Janastu (“let it be people”) works as a technology research and development support for social and local needs. In partnership with Servelots and MojoLab Foundation, the project will build a low-cost, autonomous community-controlled network as part of the establishment of a हैकरgram (hackergram) space. The project will pilot and document low-cost technology solutions, such as networked RasberryPi’s to televisions.
Maria Luisa Ortiz Cooperative (CMLO), Mulukuku Micronet, Nicaragua
CMLO will establish a community network to enhance its capacity to function as a hub for education, media access, local communication and civic participation. This work builds from their community radio station and Internet cafe.
Nuvem, Fumaça Data Springs, Brazil
Nuvem is dedicated to the development of projects related to different types of autonomy, whether in the arts, communications, nourishment and life in the rural areas in general. They will engage community members to set-up an autonomous network providing local applications and cellular service, in an area that currently has no communications infrastructure.
Radio Maendeleo, Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo
Established in 1993, Radio Maendeleo is a critical provider of news and cultural content in North and South Kivu. The project will help create digital infrastructure in Bukavu to enhance the community media ecosystem, provide a platform for sharing knowledge, and support their digital engagement activities. In partnership with Free Press Unlimited. See more…
Santa Unipessoal, Maubisse, Timor-Leste
Santa Unipessoal’s Youth Media Mesh project will conduct media-making workshops, create content on the local network for cultural preservation and historical documentation projects, and build a community wireless network linking various sites in Maubisse. The project will be will be led and maintained by Leublora Green School, the first informal educational institution in the country to teach Timorese youths about sustainable use of natural environment and resources, its impact on their lives, and the importance of sustainable development.