Polling Community Owned Networks

There are three fundamental and controversial aspects to community owned networks.  The first is whether or not the network should be an open access network, or not?  The second aspect is whether or not it should be run for profit or as a non-profit?  Lastly, should your community network be managed by the public sector, or private sector, or under a private/public partnership?

I have my own personal perspective on these which comes with decades of experience and observation which I will share with you to set the stage to three subsequent polls to indicate your own preferences.

Now, I like open access networks, regardless of whether they are fiber, copper, cable, wireless, or any combination thereof.  Open access networks promote competition, while protecting incumbents, and they allow other providers to share the infrastructure and use the network to ensure the most cost-effective services.  I also would prefer to see the network run for profit as it ties more closely with my last preference in running the network under a private/public partnership.  Government exists for one reason and only one reason only, and that is to protect its citizens from within and from without.  Hence the public sector role should be primarily a regulatory capacity and should never be in managing a network and thereby competing directly with the private sector.  A public sector managed network eliminates competitive benefits and essentially constitutes a monopoly and as such is fascist in its intent.

A Community Development Cooperative made up of all the community’s residents, businesses, associations and institutions would establish a Community Foundation, which would be a non-profit established to manage public property and raise funds and apply for grants and be the vehicle for local philanthropic endeavors.  In addition, the Community Development Cooperative would represent the stakeholders, the community, in establishing and controlling (at least 51% as the major shareholder) an enterprise that would build and manage the community owned network to maximize the use of local resources, returning dividends back to the cooperative.

Thanks for participating.


Cooperatively Barter, Trade, and Swap

No doubt with the economy tanking and with the political unrest we’re all looking at ways to support ourselves and our families and our community.

I’ve indicated several ways that a Community Development Cooperative could benefit your community such as:

  • creation of a Community Media Center
  • establishing a local Community Foundation to facilitate philanthropy and granting
  • establishing a generic and non-discriminatory community service organization to identify and meet community aspirations and needs
  • fostering other community cooperative endeavors

Another aspect that the cooperative might venture into is establishing a barter exchange for members.  A barter exchange facilitates the direct and indirect exchange of services and products.  Alternatively, like a community walled garden the creation of a barter exchange itself could be another way to establish a community cooperative.  Ideally a barter exchange might include a local pawn shop to facilitate the safe and secured consignment of valuable jewellery etc.

The vendors at the local farmers’ market could use bartering as another way of promoting their involvement.

Some resources that you might want to explore with respect to a barter exchange are as follows:

It would seem a natural fit for your local farmers’ market to become a barter exchange, for more often than not they have farmers’ market dollars to promote buying of local produce which could be used as currency for bartering purposes with the farmers’ market still making a percentage.   There are more and more websites and phone applications appearing to assist sellers and buyers.  Not only are there the aforementioned but the following are extremely useful to promote and match local buyers to local sellers:

 A fascinating perspective on combining cooperatives with bartering is the Puget Sound Cooperative Credit Union which has established a bid and bartering service.

Another resource to acquire items that are needed in the community would be through Estate Auctions or Sales:

Another cooperative twist are CSAs, Community Supported Agricultures where basically members commit to buy produce from a local farmer which may be part of a cooperative itself such as the Siskiyou Sustainable Cooperative.  The buying group itself could be a cooperative as well.  To get a better perspective on CSAs go to Local Harvest.

Software can be acquired to run on the community servers to facilitate local exchange empowerment.

Regardless, local bartering, swapping, and trading is becoming a necessity while generating a better sense of community endeavor.  If you are aware of other resource websites that might be of interest to promote local businesses please leave a comment.

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