US Association for Community Networking

News of the decision by US community networkers to set up a national association .

Madeline Gonzalez, who is co-ordinating development of the US Association for Community Networking, has posted the updates below to the communet list. ACN developed from the Toas, New Mexico, conference of community networkers in May 1997 which agreed to set up an International Association for Community Networking.

After initial moves to create IACN, US networkers decided they first needed a national body, which could then work with other national organisations. In the UK Communities Online has so far concentrated on developing a Web site (www.communities.org.uk) and an associated Guide to Community Internet due for publication in March 1997. ----------------------------

Sat, 7 Dec 96 update

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From: madeline@bcn.boulder.co.us (madeline)
Subject: [IACN] Association for Community Networking (ACN) Update
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Hi Folks,

Attached is a synopsis of where we're at with our "ACN" efforts --
actually, excerpts of a proposal I'm developing, with the active
participation of members of the ACN Interim Board, to obtain organizational
development funding.

We have made alot of progress insofar as defining our mission, and starting
to better develop our intended products & services and some options for a
long-term funding model. Among our most urgent needs right now are:
* to develop a good process for communicating about, and
encouraging more participation in, our effort
* to develop a process & mechanism for "capacity-mapping", among
ourselves in forming ACN, and as a future service we offer members
* to evaluate the existing state of CN, and CN's most pressing
needs & wants; verify that our proposed products & services are what they
most need and modify as appropriate
* to secure organizational develoment funding

This latter item seems particularly crucial at this point in time -- this
cannot continue to be done on weekends, "after 5", and while juggling 20
other commitments. So, accordingly, one of our primary areas of focus
will be to try to obtain funding for our efforts. In parallel, we will
also to try to address the above most pressing issues, and others described
below.

We welcome your involvement & participation, please bear with us as we
figure out just HOW to best facilitate this.

I will be on the road alot these next couple of weeks & "e-mail-less", but
will pick up on steady e-communications again in January. In the meantime,
please feel free to carry on any ACN-related conversations on these lists.
There are other ACN Interim Board Members (eg., Steve Cisler, Steve Snow)
who are regular participants on Communet in particular, and can hopefully
answer any questions or address any comments you might have. I look forward
to joining in the e-discussions again in January. In the meantime, you can
leave me any voice messages at 970.728.5170.

Cheers,
Madeline
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1.2 Community Networking Challenges & Issues

Community networking projects across the country share similar challenges.
Primary among these are:

to better identify, document, and evaluate the value of community
networking
to gain visibility for community networking contributions to date
to identify community networkings' most pressing common issues, needs,
wants
to develop solid, sustainable, long-term funding models
to identify methods to meet community needs FOOTNOTE 3
to have a common voice to use with Government, with Commercial sector
to better articulate the benefits of these projects, and the benefits
of participation to local nonprofits, for-profits, the public, government
to re-evaluate their roles, in light of changing market conditions
to examine and articulate the positive and negative aspects of the
underlying technology -- i.e., of "computer mediated communications" in
general
to interact more closely with other community networks, and with
experts who can help them at an affordable cost

2. The Association for Community Networking

Community networks across the country are providing extremely valuable
services to their communities. However, there is a need to reduce the
duplication of effort and "reinventing of the wheel" currently under
way. FOOTNOTE 4 There is an urgent need to establish sustainable,
long-term funding models and to re-evaluate the relationship with the
for-profit sector.
There is a need for community networking to re-examine the nature of
their services in light of existing market conditions. A national
association for community networking will be instrumental in assisting
community networks nationwide with these and other needs by providing
resources and assistance and by facilitating better collaboration among
community networking projects.

2.1 Mission

The Association for Community Networkings' purpose is to improve the
visibility, viability and vitality of community networking by assisting
and connecting people and organizations, building public awareness,
identifying best practices, encouraging research, influencing policy and
developing products and services. We value community economic
development and civic participation, diversity, collaboration, espirit,
creativity, learning, and individual empowerment.

2.2 Participants

The broad experience of our primary participants reflects a high level of
expertise available through community networking projects locally. While
many have been involved in this ACN effort, the following are currently
the primary participants: Amy Borgstrom, Appalachian Center for Economic
Networks (ACEnet); Laura Breeden, Consultant & Former Director, of the
Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program;
Steve Cisler, Apple Computer; Richard Civille, Center for Civic
Networking; Joan Durrance, University of Michigan; Patrick Finn: La
Plaza Telecommunity Foundation; Madeline Gonzalez, Consultant &
Co-founder of Boulder Community Network, Telluride InfoZone, Southern Ute
Tribe & Ignacio Community Network; Frank Odasz, Consultant & Founder Big
Sky Telegraph; Doug Schuler, Co-founder of Seattle Community Network &
Author; Steve Snow, Charlotte's Web; Lisa Kimball, Metasystems Design
Group, Inc.; Caroline Carpenter, W. K. Kellogg Foundation.

2.3 Target Markets

Community Networking projects, including "televillages"
Public institutions and agencies: public libraries, K-12 schools,
universities, community colleges
Chambers of Commerce
Economic Development organizations
Municipal Government
State Government
Federal Government
Individuals
Corporations which provide Internet-related products and services
Corporations which provide "community information services"
Corporations with an interest in local market penetration
Foundations

2.4 Services & Products

Provide advocacy and awareness of community networking
Create and collaborate in the creation of, "Guides" and support
materials for all phases of community networking projects (e.g., process,
group management, education, project planning, sustainable models,
long-term funding, software/hardware)
Create and collaborate in the creation of an "information
clearinghouse" with the resources found to be the most needed or required
by our target audience
Provide a directory of consultants, technology experts, "preferred
vendors", etc.
Provide or collaborate in providing technical assistance and process
consulting
Collaborate in the creation of community networking Toolkits --
software packages that implement core functionality of community
networking and allow customizing
Promote linkages and opportunities for collaboration among community
networking projects
Help individuals and groups learn how to collaborate more effectively
Collaborate in the evaluation of community networking research with
universities and research groups. The results of this research, as
appropriate, could in turn be provided as a service to commercial
entities, government agencies, etc.
Organize conferences
Educate the commercial sector about the benefits of community
networking and why they should help support local community networking
projects and a national association
Provide persuasive and substantive arguments targeted at for-profit
groups and why they should partner with or help community networking
efforts: "what's in it for them" in concrete terms, sample cost-benefit
scenarios, statistics, examples of what's happened in other communities
(e.g., market was created and/or stimulated)
Serve an advisory and coordinating role to companies interested in
local market penetration
Collaborate with the for-profit sector in the creation of software
products that genuinely meet individuals' and groups' needs and develop
more user-centric technology itself
Provide appropriate "accreditation" of community networking products,
tools, services

2.5 Funding

ACN will be uniquely positioned to foster community networking and serve
the needs of its community networking constituents, while at the same
time provide valuable services to commercial groups which will help
provide steady, long-term funding. We will ask community networking
projects to make contributions to ACN but we realize that these projects
alone will not be able to sustain the organization. Community networking
projects are currently very under funded themselves and we see it as part
of our mission to address this. We hope to develop sustainable long-term
funding models for the organization which will also be replicable at the
local level by the community networking projects themselves.

In developing a funding strategy for ACN we will identify which of these
methods could be replicated at the local level by community networks :

Membership dues (including city networks, public access networks,
freenets, community networks, corporate, institutional/organizational,
and personal dues)
Conference fees. lower for members, higher for commercial supporters.
Information products. e.g. create an online directory/database of
members, charge for access by non-members.
Consulting and speakers bureau --- in this case the revenue comes in
the form of a small slice of each project that is brokered through ACN.
Grants and in-kind donations.
Providing services to appropriate commercial groups (see Sustainability
Plan in Appendix)
Collaboration with for-profit and nonprofit entities
Other fee-based products and services
For-profit subsidiaries

2.6 Evaluation

We will explore various evaluation models then develop an appropriate
methodology to evaluate how well we have met our goals.

We will develop and use the following indicators to help us measure our
success:

awareness and understanding of community networking
effectiveness of collaboration, partnerships, and affiliations
economic development indicators
citizen participation
community agencies and organizations participation
quality of services offered
value provided

We will also be able to evaluate our success by how we answer questions
like: Are we raising money? Are organizations joining ACN? Do allies
ask us to join them in mutual efforts? Does our constituency use our
products and services? Are we sought out by the media, politicians, and
experts to be "the voice of community networking? Are we growing and
developing as an organization? Do we have processes and systems in place
for self-evaluation and for re-engineering when needed? Are good people
ready and willing to serve on our board and as advisors? Can we attract
quality staff? Are we financially sound?

The evaluation processes we develop for ACN's evaluation efforts should
also aid local community networking projects in their own local
evaluation efforts.

3. Organizational Development Plan

3.1 Current Status

Accomplished to date:
* A subcommittee (David Wilcox, Laura Breeden, Madeline Gonzalez)
prepared an "Issues of Forming an IACN" paper
* Formed an Ad-Hoc Steering Committee, had a phone conference, then
a face-to-face meeting in which we developed a working definition for
community networking , and an organizational mission statement, and created
an Interim Organizational Structure
* Created Interim Board (see above Primary Participants), and
Working Committees (Name; Organizational Development; Products,
Services&Marketing; Conference; Funding)
* Developed Interim Decision Making Process: Committees work on
projects and submit to Board for approval by simple majority; working
Documents will be put up on the Intranet for review and comment
* Developed this Proposal, to be used in securing organizational
development funding and serve as the starting point for an ACN Business
Plan.

3.2 Future Organizational Development

As detailed in the attached Budget, we are requesting funding for future
organizational development activities which would result in:
* Incorporation as a 501(c)3
* Business Plan

We foresee these activities consisting of the following:
* Identify most urgent needs for ACN to become a reality.
* Identify who else we should involve in this process.
* Develop a good process for communicating about, and encouraging
participation in, our effort.
* Develop an effective national outreach and PR campaign, and
identify people to help us carry out the actual activities.
* Develop a process & mechanism for "capacity-mapping", among
ourselves in forming ACN, and as a future service we offer members.
* Evaluate the existing state of CN, and CN's most pressing needs &
wants; verify that our proposed products & services are what they most need
and modify as appropriate.
* Identify other potential funders and investors. Modify ACN
Proposal as appropriate. Submit proposals to all potential funders and
investors.
* Research the process and develop a plan for incorporation as a
501(c)3. Develop by-laws, etc. Review with professional.
* Develop a conference plan.
* Identify and investigate all the models we can use in developing ACN.
* Identify best practices for Volunteer Management, for use with
our ACN development effort, and as a future resource for members.
* Determine pricing strategies for our services and products.
* Cost-benefit scenarios, ...
* Develop evaluation metrics, as described in the Evaluation
section above.
* Board Meeting to review articles & bylaws, and address all open
issues on 1/24-26.

_________________________________________________
Madeline Gonzalez
Phone: (970)728-5170
Fax: (970)728-3102

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Mon, 13 Jan 1997 Update

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From: madeline@bcn.boulder.co.us (madeline)
To: communet@list.uvm.edu
Cc: madeline@rmii.com
Subject: Association for Community Networking: Next Meeting
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Hi Folks,

I'm back online, and madly trying to surface above the ocean of piled-up
e-mail... I'll be replying to questions & comments re: ACN hopefully within
the next day or two.

In the meantime, we, the ACN Interim Board, would like to extend an
invitation to our next working meeting, Jan. 25th - 26th, in Albuquerque,
N.M, to those who would like to participate. We are still finalizing the
exact agenda, but among our primary goals are to:
* identify all critical actions & collaborations
* identify others we should be collaborating with
* develop better process & mechanisms for communicating about and
encouraging participation in our effort
* agree upon a governance model from which we can then develop
appropriate articles and by-laws
* review the "generic" proposal developed to obtain organizational
development funding
* develop an organizational development funding strategy
* hear back from our working committees (Name, Funding,
Organizational Development) and form any others as apropriate
* identify all open issues, and develop a better method for
identification & tracking on an on-going basis

We will be having a meeting of just the Board on Jan. 24th & part of Jan.
25th, then opening it up to interested others the eve of Jan. 25th & the
26th. Contact me if you would like more details. And if you are unable to
attend but would like to have any of your thoughts, concerns, issues,
suggestions, etc., brought up at the meeting, send them to me and I will
share them with the Board. Please title the Subject of your message
something along the lines of "ATTENTION ACN BOARD" to help me make sure it
doesn't "drown" in this e-mail ocean ;-).

And in general, FYI, the primary activities for our ACN effort these next
few months are:
+ Obtain organizational development funding
+ Incorporate
+ Develop business plan
+ Maintain active communication with CN movement

We are trying to proceed in parallel as much as possible, however until we
secure organizational development funding that allows us to focus on this
effort, we will have to proceed as best we can, while juggling the other
projects that help us pay the bills. We continue to firmly believe in this
CN "movement", and will continue striving to create an association to help
it flourish.


Madeline
_________________________________________________
Madeline Gonzalez
Phone: (970)728-5170
Fax: (970)728-3102
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