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Community Networking Hits Media Mainstream (Almost)--
And Makes Its Own News


by Frank Odasz


The Bill Moyer’s recent PBS special “The Net @ Risk: Net Neutralityrelated how media monopolies caused thousands of local radio stations providing local news to shut down and how free speech in America is threatened. A banner appeared on the screen “For more on community networking go to www.pbs.org


This was one of the few mentions of community networking we’ve seen in the major media. Stories included how Layfayette, Louisiana rallied to install their own municipal fiber despite attacks by the monopoly telcos. “If we don’t do it, we don’t get it!”


Perhaps future programs will focus on the lessons learned from thousands of  CTCs and community networks struggling to educate citizens, generate local content, and provide fiber and wireless broadband access. Stories such as Will Reed’s Wireless CTC assisting Katrina refugees in the Houston Astrodome could have been highlighted. As well as the many open source municipal wireless projects such as Sascha Meinrath’s CUWiN project, among many others.


Now that Mohammed Yunus and the Grameen Bank have been awarded the Nobel prize for their third world micro-loans innovations, leveraging ICTs for third world employment has become a hot topic. At issue for those of us involved with poverty reduction and job creation is how such wireless and micro-loan innovations can assist large scale economic development projects such as the National Tribal Development Association’s Katrina Tribal Economic Development project which received a $30 million dollar allocation of New Market Tax Credits to attract needed capital for business development. The target population is low-income Native American communities in the Hurricane Katrina Gulf Opportunity Zone. (Contact BillieAnne Rainingbird Morsette )


How businesses and philanthropists support citizens use of the Internet to learn and to teach may prove to be the next big thing, as evidenced by the following new initiatives; 

Foundations are beginning to recognize the importance of CTCs and CNs.


Participatory Culture Foundation and Knight Foundation partner to
Teach Video News Blogging - If you want to know how to publish video on the Internet, the Participatory Culture Foundation is creating a step-by-step tutorial with a $50,000 grant from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation.

The free tutorials will teach individuals to shoot and publish news video to the web. The lessons will feature tools that are free and open to everyone, such as the Democracy Player, a comprehensive, open-source Internet TV system developed by the Participatory Culture Foundation (PCF).

Corporations are beginning to recognize the importance of CTCs and CNs.


IBM, SeniorNet and the Native American Chamber of Commerce Partner to Bring Technology Centers to Remote Reservations


Hope and Harmony for Humanity Initiative's First Achievement Center opened last week in Browning, MT at Blackfeet Nation  -  In partnership with the Native American Chamber of Commerce and with SeniorNet, a leading nonprofit technology educator of older adults, IBM today announced Hope and Harmony for Humanity, a grant-based initiative designed to bring computer technology access and education to low-income and remote Native American reservations across the United States.  Read More.  Learn more. Seniornet’s Tutorials for Retired Technology Volunteers

Communities are discovering how new media allows them to cover community events and contribute to the community's sense of itself:

Outsourcing, Relocation and Teleworking in the Outer Hebrides Islands of Scotland   An update from Donnie Morrison: “We are pretty much up to full employment here which is good news. We have developed a TransNational Project with partners across Northern Europe and are now nominated as a best practice model for strategy development, planning, deployment and evaluation of services across the domains of e-Government, e-Health, e-Learning, E-Business and e-Work (Teleworking) by the European Commission. (Download their E-Readiness Metrics manual and Excel based software.) Have also just launched a pilot IPTV station based in our local communities. Have also launched our new culture and heritage site for expatriated Scots. See our own community website, too.


Third World Communities Are Just Beginning to Understand What Is Possible:


Dave Hughes to Speak, Dali Lama Scheduled to Attend!

Empowering Communities through Wireless Networks in Nepal and Tibet–
The Tibetan Technology Center (TibTec) is sponsoring the Airjaldi Summit 2006. It developed and maintains the Dharamsala Community Wireless Mesh Network. The mesh provides Internet connectivity to rural communities, schools and institutions in the Dharamsala region.

Dave Hughes’ Expeditions have installed open source mesh community wireless in remote sherpa villages in Nepal, to be presented at the Airjaldi Summit 2006:


Nations are struggling to develop strategies as evidenced at the national level in Canada – the vision is in writing but the funding is in question:

Designing Local, Regional, and National ICT Adoption Strategies in Canada

The CAP community Internet centers program has been defunded but there is anticipation a new similar program will emerge in another department. The recent Canadian Telecommunications Policy Review Report describes the goals of  the new Canadian government for creating a national ICT adoption strategy.


At the grassroots level, the levels of innovation are exploding:

The Pacific Community Networking Association has partnered with the Telecenters of the Americas project which has partnered with the European Telecenters Association, totaling 20,000 telecenters.  $8 million has been provided by UPS and Circuit City for an Imalls project to stimulate remote ecommerce and international trade via Latin American telecenters in partnership with Latino telecenters in North America.


PCNA has announced the Telecenter Exchange Program(Contact Tate BengtsonThe winning proposals have been selected and projects are now being implemented.  The projects encompass a very wide range of exchanges, including WiFi setup, community economic development models, developing a literacy portal, and increasing the ability of telecenters to serve transnational communities and persons.  All of the projects have the potential to affect communities in a very positive and long-term manner that we are very excited about!  


British Columbia First Nation’s Fully Integrated Technology communities build on the Aboriginal Voices concept paper. More Canadian ICT innovations.


Telework training workshops in the U.S. and India will soon include Native Americans in a unique East and West Indians partnership.


In partnership with American Indian Outsourcing, Auditel trains teleworkers how to audit telecommunications bills to produce average savings of 36%   Clients include multiple major telcos who need assistance managing their own telecom bills.  Individuals who learn these skills can make very high incomes. Auditel is committed to providing the best telecommunications expense management available. Our telecom audits produce results plus we provide telecommunications training.
Contact Jerry Ashton 212-982-2152


Youth Demonstrate Synergies Between the New Media and K12 Instructional Reform

New K12 youth media projects, with emphasis on citizen video journalism, are becoming recommended as K12 best practices. While traditional media and many adults resist the newer technologies, youth, as the first generation of “digital Natives” have embraced them.


The “MUST READ” New Face of Learning Article from www.Edutopia.org, a free e-zine is exceptional reading making the case for how blogging, podcasting, video-authoring and more can impact K12 education.
Also recommended are:

PBS’s Learningnow blog for educators, hosted by Andy Carvin
New Google for Educators website
New EDC literacy portal

      New Google Literacy Portal


Apple’s Alaskan Laptops Program
 The Alaska Association of School Boards  chose 16 school districts across the state with approx. 48 sites, around 2300 students in a 4 year project.  Each student gets their own new laptop with a standard software package to include Apple's iLife 06,  a multimedia suite of software that comes on every computer including iMovie, iPhoto, iDVD, iCal, and iWeb.   
A centralized clearinghouse for the dissemination of professional development and the sharing of student progress is taking shape in a variety of forms.  A plan to collect stories and products produced by teachers and students is being developed.  Several school districts are leading the way in the use of student produced video.  One of the most sophisticated examples is the Bering Straits School District's Student Broadcasting Team.  This group of middle schoolers produce their own video podcasts from start to end in all aspects of production. Check out their site!

Extensive professional development is part of the project.  Apple workshops teachers are participating in all phases of the Apple Professional Development program:  More on Apple’s 700 initiatives 
Lone Eagle Alaskan Resources


Read More about Philanthropy Trends, Online Volunteer Management, Community Networking, and Native Internet Innovations at:


 "Reaching the Tipping Point for the New Generation of Community Networks"