Community networking entrepreneurs
face a formidable challenge: Are they part of a social phenomenon that
is destined to stall or implode... or do they represent a vibrant force,
capable of building on the knoledge they have accumulated, adapting to
a rapidly chaning world and community needs, and ultimately achieving positive,
lasting social change in their communities?
Community networks go through distinct phases
of evolution and each phase is marked with distinct opportunities and challenges.
Nobody knows the precise formula for successfully developing and sustaining
community networks. There are, however, several guidelines that should
prove helpful. The first is that the community-network organization must
itself be a community. A community is needed at the core of the effort.
Developing a community-network is not a business proposition, and a
community-network organization is
not a machine. When the project itself is a community it is more likely
that a shared vision will exist and that people will work together cooperatively.
Since many people on the project are volunteers, a paycheck is not an issue.
They will work together because they enjoy it and because they
believe in the issue.
Saying that the project is not a business project
is not to say that the project shouldnít be run efficiently. In a many
ways, such as planning, budgeting, and managing, the financial affairs
of the community-network organization need to be professional and
In fact, in many ways, the organization is a business. Also it is
important to recognize skills
that project volunteers have, including fundraising, communication,
or organizational skills so they can be applied towards the project.
Communication and coordination within the project
needs special attention, particularly as the project grows. Using electronic
capabilities is, or course, a logical approach, but brochures, newsletters,
and other printed material are also useful. Each medium has
advantages and disadvantages.
It is critical to involve the community in the
development of the network. Community organizations are natural partners,
and their work will help spread the word and increase the effectiveness
and reach of the community network. The community network must be a part
of the community. If itís detached from the community, itís not a community
network. Local newspapers, radio, and television stations are community
organizations, as well, and the should be kept up to date regarding the
project and should also be considered as possible strategic partners.
Finally, it will be necessary to be diligent,
patient, diplomatic, persevering and, at times, cautious. People working
on the project need to be able to listen to the viewpoint of others. They
need to listen carefully to other people working on the project, to people in
the community, and to people working on similar projects locally and around
the world. As time goes on there will be pressure to water down your original
principles. Establish high principles at the onset and stick with them.
(Doug Schuler, excerpt from New
Community Networks: Wired for Change)
for Community Networks<<<
Network Funding Resources --
Melinda Fleming's compilation of US funding resources for community networking.
This currently focuses on government funding.
Roles for Electronic Community Networks and Participatory Development
Strategies in Access Programs for Poor Neighborhoods --
Lillie, a graduate student of mass communications at the University of
North Carolina at Chapel Hill wrote about the potential of community
networks to serve a vital role in offering Internet access to poor
communities in the US and world.
- Community networks workshop
-- This is the outline for a "Developing and Sustaining Community
Networks" workshop conducted at the U.S. Department of Housing and
Urban Development (HUD) "Neighborhood Networks" Western regional
conference held in Seattle, Washington on July 15 - 17, 1996. This workshop
is an outgrowth of a previous workshop developed by Aki Namioka and Doug
Schuler and presented at the 1994 CPSR annual meeting held in San Diego,
Network Planning Guide -- This Community Network Planning
Guide tries to answer some of the most frequently asked questions that
we receive from other communities trying to set up and develop community
networks. Virginia Tech is now able to offer a wide variety of education,
training, and services on a cost recovery basis to communities interested
in creating a community network.
to Kill Community Networks - Hint: We May Have Already
Started -- Doug Schuler outlines what not to do when creating and sustaining
a successful community network. From The Network Observer. January,
- How to Revive
Community Networks -- Doug Schuler follows up on
his critique of community networks and outlines several
suggestions on how to sustain successful community
Computer Networks: An Opportunity for Collaboration Among Democratic Technology
Practitioners and Researchers -- This paper explores how
these two largely disjoint groups could work together for mutual benefit
without sacrificing the integrity or basic mission of either. Technology
and Democracy - Comparative Perspectives. Doug Schuler, Oslo, Norway. January,
Networks: an On-line Guide to Resources -- This Web site
is a compilation of references, links, and publications related to a variety
of networked information infrastructures. Specifically of note are the
links to Web sites in the Commonwealth of Virginia, a particular focus
of my research.
Plans for Starting Community Networks -- This area of
Partners provides links to Action Plans for Starting Community Networks.
Strictly speaking, not all of these links point to "Action Plans,"
but their inclusion indicates their usefulness for planning and implementing
and Community (a gopher site) -- This weekly report attempts
to follow the changing nature of community based and oriented activities
on the internet. Readers will get a summary of much of the week's activity
on subjects like Free-Nets and other community nets; access technology,
and legislation effecting public access to information and network services.
Issues like electronic democracy, censorship and business activity on the
net, will be touched upon when they impact community related issues.
Benton Foundation Toolkit -- Provides online nonprofits
with tools that will help you use communications technology more effectively.
Effects of Community Networks on Political Participation
resource guide contains an annotated list of both on-line and print resources
on the subjects of community networks and how they can be used to increase
political participation in the community. It provides researchers with
a variety of background reading on the subjects, especially scholarly papers
Community Center -- Electric Minds hosts a community forum
area in there Being Here section. Folks come and go and leave helpful insights
about community networks.
-- A popular Community and Civic Network discussion list.
Compilation of Organizations
-- An appendix of Doug Schuler's book New Community Networks: Wired For
Change. Includes information about a wide variety of organizations that
would be sympathetic to some (if not all) of the goals of community networks.
Organization for Community Networking -- The
Organization For Community Networks is an Ohio non-profit corporation which
has been established to be a central repository for information dealing
with Free-Nets/Community Networks. There is a collection of documents which
have been supplied by various systems to share with new and existing systems.
Association For Community Networking -- AFCN will be a
nonprofit corporation dedicated to educating its members about the
potential community benefits of information and communication technology,
and providing members the services and resources they will need to create
their own applications. We are unique because the people who use our
services also share their knowledge with other members, helping other
communities as they build their own.
- The Center for
Civic Networking -- CCN is a non-profit organization dedicated
to applying information infrastructure to the broad public good - particularly
by putting information infrastructure to work within local communities
to improve delivery of local government services, improve access to information
that people need in order to function as informed citizens, broaden citizen
participation in governance, and stimulate economic and community development.
Professionals for Social Responsibility (CPSR) -- CPSR is
a public-interest alliance of computer scientists and others interested
in the impact of computer technology on society. As technical experts,
CPSR members provide the public and policymakers with realistic assessments
of the power, promise, and limitations of computer technology. As concerned
citizens, we direct public attention to critical choices concerning the
applications of computing and how those choices affect society.
Practices Network -- CPN offers a large number of articles
relating to the topic of community networking and also a large database
of community building projects from around the nation.
Networking Initiative -- The Community Networking Resource
provides examples of the creative and useful ways by which community networks
serve and engage their communities links to key articles and current community
networking activities resources for sustainability.
- The Community Technology
Centers' Network (CTCNet) -- Is a network of more than 150
community technology centers, where people get access to computers and
computer-related technology, such as the Internet. If you came to one of
- Internet Society
-- The Internet Society is a non-governmental International organization
for global cooperation and coordination for the Internet and its internetworking
technologies and applications.
- Libraries for the
Future -- You will find Local Places, Global Connections,
a project documenting public libraries offering access to technology and
the Internet. This page has a link to a long list of such programs organized
by state and a short list organized by type of program(one type is public
libraries cooperating with community networks).
- The Loka Institute
-- The Loka Institute is a non-profit research and advocacy organization
concerned with the social, political, and environmental repercussions of
science and technology.
Online -- This is part of a joint project of the Institute
for the Study of Civic Values and LibertyNet in Philadelphia, aimed at
helping neighborhood activists and organizations gain information and resources
of use in solving community problems.
-- The Morino Institute is dedicated to opening the doors of opportunity
- economic, civic, health, and education - and empowering people to improve
their lives and communities in the Communications Age. The Institute helps
individuals and institutions harness the power of information and the potential
of interactive communications as tools for overcoming the challenges that
- Rural and Small
Town Programme (RSTP) --Established in 1984, the Rural and
Small Town Programme (RSTP) is an independent university based research
centre dedicated to exploring and resolving social, environmental, and
economic issues facing small communities in Canada. RSTP is responsible
for securing its own funding from a variety of government and private sector
- Telecommunities 1997: Partnerships -- The Fourth Annual
Conference of Telecommunities Canada was held in
Halifax, Nova Scotia, August 15-18, 1997. This conference brought together
people from across Canada and around the world who are involved in
Community Networking. Building on a tradition of combining pragmatism
a vision of the future, this conference has as its theme
Return / Go to Community
Network Movement home page.
Return / Go to Seattle Community Network