From the Bottom Up: Building Community-Owned and -Operated Mesh Networks

Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 26, 2014 from 3:45 – 4:30pm in B202/203


This panel highlights the work of a few folks representing part of a broad, international movement consisting of network engineers, community change makers, researchers, architects, and thinkers who are building decentralized and autonomous communications infrastructure. We know that the Internet is deeply broken, and we are rebuilding, from the inside out. We mitigate the ills of interception and interference on the net by facilitating networks that are owned, operated, and governed by the people that use them.


Anthropologically speaking, the emergence of hacker culture and the subsequent spawn of hackerspaces worldwide is a natural response to the damaging effects of neoliberalism and globalization – toward commons-based peer production and DIY engineering. A bottom-up approach to taking back the means of production by which we communicate is to co-create alternatives to the incumbent systems of power. This panel will examine the role of local community-based organizations in building community-owned and -operated networks by sharing stories and case studies from community networks around the world.

Sudo Mesh, an organization helping to build the People’s Open Network in Oakland, California, operates out of the local hackerspace Sudo Room. They are currently testing their first batch of nodes running custom firmware built on open source software, and building partnerships with local organizations..

wlan-slovenija is the open wireless network of Slovenia, connecting homes across the country with some of the first international links (to Croatia and Austria). They’ve built great tools such as tunneldigger for VPN connections and nodewatcher for monitoring nodes in a network.

The Kansas City Freedom Network has been put together to begin bridging the digital divide by developming a community network designed to provide low cost services to businesses and residents of the 18th and Vine district and multiple locations in KC.

[Other networks participating in the panel to be announced asap]


mesh, community networks, hackerspaces, community organizing, coalition-building, hyperlocal, local applications, mesh networks, mesh networking

Speaking experience

Jenny Ryan has given talks and presentations and led collaborative workshops for the past 7 years. Most recently, she participated in a panel on Women and Community Wireless and led a collaborative workshop on coalition-building at the 2013 International Summit for Community Wireless Networks in Berlin.

[Other speakers to be announced asap]