Our NYC Mesh Community (part 2)

Our Network: People and Data

Our Mesh community has grown by leaps and bounds over the past several months. Perhaps it's that the weather is getting warm, but I'm pretty convinced that it's because we have an incredible team of volunteers working harder than ever to expand the network with an eye to inclusivity and fun.

We already have plans to expand on our blog theme of "connecting with your community so you can connect online" to bring more content and long-form interviews with community members, highlighting the work they do every day to keep our network up and running. Stay tuned for more content to come!

As a reminder, there are myriad ways to get involved. You can do it today, tomorrow, or next week. Don't have expertise in networking? No problem, join our outreach and design team or attend a training session to develop your tech savviness. Uninterested in climbing rooftops? Print out some leaflets and sign up your neighbors or help us develop a media strategy. Everyone is learning as we go, and learning is always more fun (and successful) with a team.

There's a place for everyone and every skill set in our community. Keep in mind that our connection online is only as strong as the connections we build between each other and with the wider NYC community.

And with that, let's get to know two of our community members, Jillian (your wonderful newsletter author) and Olivier.

Name: Jillian Murphy

How long have you been a part of the NYC Mesh community:

I have been an active member since September 2018. Over these last few months, I have learned how to lead home installations, started organizing a monthly meeting, and write a newsletter for members.

How and why did you get involved in NYC Mesh:

When the Net Neutrality Act was repealed in November 2017, I really didn't understand what had happened. As I educated myself on the issue, I became curious to know if there were any alternative, more grassroots, solutions that wouldn't rely on fickle government policies. I discovered mesh networking and NYC Mesh and attended the organization's 'State of the Mesh' event last January. I was very intrigued by the mission to build a community-owned Internet, which gives individuals agency over their data and usage. The Internet is an essential resource to participate in today's society and still has the potential to even the playing field by abating socio-economic boundaries.

Lacking a technical background, I didn't think that I could be of much help to the group and put NYC Mesh on the back burner. It wasn't until last August when I attended a meeting, that I realized I could have a place in this organization. Since then, I have immersed myself in several projects geared towards educations, engagement, and outreach.

What makes you excited about NYC Mesh:

It wasn't until I started volunteering with NYC Mesh that I realized how much I had taken my access to the Internet for granted. I believe that education is one of the most effective and accessible routes to empowerment and I think that everyone should have at least a fundamental knowledge of networking and troubleshooting.

There's this short story by E.M. Forster called "The Machine Stops" that describes a world in which humans have built a civilization around an omnipotent machine. The Machine becomes so pervasive that people forget that it was, in fact, a human creation. In the story, the Machine slowly starts to breakdown, but nobody is able to fix it because the knowledge of how to repair the Machine is lost.

The story was written in 1909, but it is an important reminder as we built our own civilization to rely on the Internet. The DIY nature of NYC Mesh has helped me to question and appreciate the work that goes into building and sustaining a network.

What are your goals, hopes, or dreams for NYC Mesh in 2019:

I would really like to see NYC Mesh become a primary resource for digital literacy and engagement. This is a very exciting time for the Internet as we start integrating new technologies such as 5G and IoT, yet the Internet is still young enough that it can be molded into an accessible and inclusive platform. Over the next year, I hope to see NYC Mesh create partnerships with other community organizations. By collaborating with NYC Mesh for a more affordable Internet, these organizations have more money to dedicate to projects promoting their own missions. I also want to increase engagement and enthusiasm with our community by hosting interesting speakers and projects in our monthly organization meetings.


Name: Olivier Morf

In a couple of sentences tell us about yourself:

I'm Swiss, a citizen of the world. In my previous life, I was a telecom engineer (X.25, SDLC, Frame Relay, etc.. old stuff, and in my last job, I was running voice switches around Europe). Thus, my interest in technology. When my family moved to Asia in 2001, I became a stay at home dad. We moved to NYC in 2012. I have two kids, one in college and one in high school. I love traveling, discovering new cultures and meeting new people.

What brought you to NYC Mesh and why are you a part of this community:

I was browsing the Net and got to NYC Mesh's website. I found it interesting so I bought an SXT to try to connect to the kiosk at the corner of the block. It worked, so I emailed Brian and he invited me to a Meetup. I haven't stopped bothering Brian, Zach, Jesse and many others with my questions since. I like to learn and "you won't get it if you don't ask." NYC Mesh is an opportunity to meet people and it lets me discover new neighborhoods around the city. Maybe one day, with NYC Mesh, I will be able to make a real difference in underserved and underprivileged communities.

What are your goals, hopes, or dreams for NYC Mesh in 2019:

I would like to see SN3 come alive because, selfishly, I need it to connect to my apartment in Park Slope. I would also like to see the first block or building connected through an optical fiber. I think a "proof of concept" would start a trend and we could see some "communities" forming around the NYC Mesh idea/concept but beyond our immediate circle. It would be great to see independent communities connecting to each other without directly depending on each other (if that makes sense).