Mesh/10 Apr 2018

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People's Open Network Strategy Meeting

Strategic Plan Meeting

  • Time: Tues 10 April 2018 7:30 - 9:30 pm
  • Location: Omni
  • Facilitator: Mai
  • Stacktaker: Ben
  • Notetaker(s): You! :)

Notes from previous strategy meeting on 17 Feb 2018:

  • Mai - recapping--had a meeting earlier in the year about high level technical, operational, organizational, and fund-raising sides of the organization. Came away with some things we wanted to do, but a lot of it didn't get manifested concretely. Looking at the action items from last time, many of us have worked on various aspects, but maybe not as specifically as we'd like. Going to read schedule, then jog memory with previous action items, then intros, and remind ourselves what we want to leave the meeting with. Then we discuss projects we want to accomplish in the next several months!

Pre-meeting Comments/Questions

  • Benny - want to propose setting aside ~10 mins at the end of the meeting? to briefly metacommunicate / reflect on how discussion felt during the meeting. Thinking it can take time to learn how to communicate with each other effectively, and allowing space to talk about stuff could be good.

Suggest to review action items from last strategy meeting: (from )

  • Monitoring Office Hours Session - Jorrit
  • Fundraising work - Mai / Jenny
  • Set upl a Loomio instance - Jenny
  • viable sticker printing inventory - jnny, sierk
  • documentation with community outreach - mai, jnny, grant
  • tangible network - arthur, jenny,
    • frutivale/LOLspace - jenny, mai
    • richmond - grant, jehan?, mai, jenny,
  • node mount tool kit - daniel, arthur
  • internet-in-a-box: jorrit, daniel
    • daniel - would like to dev one for spanish-speaking peoples
  • battery-powered node kit - juul, grant
    • unknown: how to keep it from draining car battery
  • mapping - grant, jenny
  • monitoring - jorrit
    • knowing when exit node is down
    • daniel: can include security audit / scans?
  • node config / firmware - grant, juul, jorrit, sierk
  • node operator's manual - sierk, jorrit, mai (editing)
  • flashing modern devices - mostly research, then what to do about this that aren't easy to flash? - jenny, grant?
  • collaboration w/ neighborhood & local orgs - mai, jenny, jorrit (within 1mi range)
  • selling swag / kits / etc - grant, mai, jenny
  • field trip info-session on project & reflection&feedback from community - suggesting newer byoi folks eg benny, matthew - deadline for decision? march 1st - jorrit, mai


  • 7:30 ~ 7:45 -- Intros, review agenda, and agree on meeting scope
  • 7:45 ~ 8:30 -- Discussion: Priority projects and goals
  • 8:30 ~ 8:40 -- Break
  • 8:40 ~ 9:10 -- Discussion: Communication & Outreach - How to align with project goals
  • 9:10 ~ 9:30 -- Discussion: Next steps - Execution, accountability, and timelines
  • 9:30 -- Final reflection & End

Remote participation

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   Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location): 
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   Meeting ID: 654 777 5473
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Goals of Strategy Meeting

   Potential Projects: SOLspace/The Village, Richmond tower/Berkeley, Omni gigabit
   Identify three important projects, centered on getting bandwidth, building out the backbone in specific neighborhoods, etc.
   These projects should inform our communication, messaging and outreach
   Communication and outreach
   Clarify how BYOI office hours fold into the projects. How do we best align that time for outreach and training with our larger goals and projects?
   Accountability — attaching specific people to tasks/projects with dedicated timelines - have at least 3 people per target area so it doesn't fall on any one person
   Decide allocation of time, energy, and infra with goals by first reaching out to communities and then dedicate physical resources to support communities that are organizing.
   i.e. provide workshops in spaces with folks who live there, then act based on their needs


  • Mai - been involved in PON since August 2017, coming from a tech policy background, realizing that the modern Internet is broken and controlled by corporations, wants falternatives to exist
  • Bengo - My name is Ben but I go by Bengo. I've been involved for a few months but in and out of town, but after May I'm free from travelling. I'm a software developer, and I think internet should be cheaper, and I don't think it should be as easily censorable.
  • Suha - studied physics and mathematics, have just a little experince with Python, here for three weeks
  • Ben - he/ they pronouns been involved for the last couple months, internested in ISPs, interested in working as a groupn to build out a network that anyone can access,
  • grant - he/they. I've been working on this for over a year now, and I just like working on stuff. It's fun. also keeping time
  • Seth - I've been around the bay for the last five years. I've been working with Cisco for the last few months, and this is more fun. Looking for ways to plug in and contribute.
  • Jorrit - he/himhas been involved for over a year, recently has been hacking on firmware and been setting monitors, also helped set up workshops
  • marc/juul - is a "downloadable software for mobile devices for use with an oral vaporizer for smoking purposes" has been with the project since the beginning, but hasn't been around much lately:
  • John - lives in Jeff's building interested in free and open information for the world
  • Benny (remote) - background in physics and software things, mostly involved because I like working with people on the project :)
  • scope
  • mai - what we talked about last was to define concrete projects, such as building out a network in certain neighborhoods, or getting access to donated bandwidth are things we would like to accomplish in some amount of time
    • Jorrit, you sparked communication about outreach and how we communicate about the project.
    • what do we say on our website, what do we say to people on BYOI sundays, what do we put on SWAG, how do we make sure this stuff get done, in terms of physical infastructure and how we work with people
  • mai - everyone feel good about that? Anything to add?
    • *thumbs go up*
    • grant - I'd like to avoid in-depth technical discussion tonight if possible.
    • mai - I'll give a timeout in those cases.

Discussion: Priority projects and goals

Benny - bandwidth, getting an uplink connections with donated bandwidth

  • e.g. internet archive

bengo - creating a way to configure a node without touching command line mai - to build on Benny's point, I'd like to pursue Paxio's gigabit connection.

    • On Sunday, we mounted a node at my aunt and uncle's house, which does not have internet, with the goal of linking to Chuck's from a roof with better visibility to other sites.
  • benny - figuring out what community to start interfacing with, how to interface, and start using that grant money
  • mai - are you refering to the microgrant idea
  • benny - yesy
  • jorrit - would like to continue monitoring
  • grant - figure out how to make repositories, code, software more inviting. Especially for people who are unfamiliar with networking, programming, but otherwise want to get involved. How do we make our code as accessible as possible? I've learned a lot here. We should be doing best practices so people that come ot th eproject can take something away from it as an OSS project.
    • John - where is the code hosted?
  • grant -
  • jorrit - focus on building people (sp?)
  • Ben - to respond to grant, would like to work on project ergonomics, how we communicate, how do we document things, currently scattered across a lot of platforms
  • Jorrit - I notice that I'm inventing issues that are important to me, but I'm not sure how important they are to the people that use what we make. I mean to express a desire to be more in touch with the people who actually use peoplesopen.
    • grant - regarding how people use peoplesopen... I felt like this weekend might have been the first time I really experienced people using peoplesopen. Someone reached out to their family to make it happen and get people online. Chuck, the operator on the other end of the link, is involved in rocketchat or at least present. I've also had users/potential operators express frustration with our website.


  • Mai - a fair amount of this *is* technical. We have to figure out that things do work, and we don't have that much time between us given that this is a volunteer project. My question to the group - do we want to make those technical concerns part of this discussion? It sounds like technical concerns are making their way into the conversation despite us stating that we wanted to veer away from them tonight.
  • jorrit - are you asking with this be an educational project and also operating a network
    • mai - <sorry, had trouble keeping up>
    • jorrit - so, you want to have education and outreach *around* operating a network, with operation as a focus
    • benny - an order ti narrow down from, not an implementation order, more ask what would you like the network to look like then work towards that
    • jorrit - it does. I guess I'm asking the counter question - given our experience so far as a group of dedicated volunteers, do we have the capacity to run a network beyond a demo capacity?
    • grant - are those distinct or mutually exclusive?
    • jorrit - Are we interested in designing for more than 3-4 nodes at a time?
    • bengo - people with computers in their home expect it to be more than just a demo.
    • jorrit - I feel like we have a functional demo, but once we go beyond our realm of influence, then things get tricky and we can't manage it anymore. I think there's a grey zone.
    • the reason i am asking is what tim pozar said is that to run a network you need full time dedicated people working on it
    • grant - are you suggesting that we figure out how to have full time people working on the project or change the purpose of the project because we don't have full time people working on it
    • ben - the means by which we reach those goals is important and how we can implement and scale
    • benny - I think I've been under the impression that we do both at once.
    • mai - I think a lot of people in the community, and myself, I wouldn't care as much if it was just a demo. I left my job at EFF because I wanted to build this shit. I agree that they go hand-in-hand, but the people who have nodes, are enthusiastic, and are willing to be patient with our ragtag team and network downtime... I think I half-promised to my aunt and uncle that they would be able to access bandwidth as a consequence of the physical infrastructure that we mounted. I agree that to do this well we need people that can take time to deal with this. People not having time or dropping out at times has caused problems for things like our documentation and knowledge management. I'd be open to proposing that as a project.
    • bengo - what is "that"?
    • mai - a way for people to be able to sustain themselves financially while working on the project. I think that pursuing grants isn't sustainable, but it would be good to have a more solid foundation.
    • jorrit - so that is clear, I feel similarily, with that, if everyone agrees, that we should only spend time on things that are preventing us from doing that. WIth that priortiziation we should only s
    • grant -
    • ben - to bounce of what Mai mentioned / added to the initial notes, having some kind of accountability process will be important to us focusing on more specific goals.
    • mai - thsat is what i was trying to say, when discusiing techincal projects, we need to priortize what needs to be done to reach our goals
    • bengo -what has worked on teams I've worked on, is have something on the wall a project backlog of projects that are being worked, either have virtually or physical, like index cards

as someone new to the project, I'm throwing out a new idea, but I'd rather just be able to see what's a priority to the group and work on that.

    • ben - we have the priorties and just need to get the cards and order them
    • jorrit - would like to distinguish THAT we will do project managment from HOW we do project managment because we haven't done project managment so much yet, but that's not to be negative because we've gotten this far
    • bengo - should not be obligated to respect the prject manager
    • mai - I would be interested in operating as a project manager in some way. Being able to understand our technical capabilities and limits really would shape how I would do that work as well as the actual build-outs that we do. If I didn't think we could actually connect these nearby houses, I probably wouldn't have organized the mount.
    • mai - the fact that we are at this point of decentralized-ness has hindered us in some ways
    • benny - wants to amplify what mai said, you answered your own question with the chicken and egg problem, that had to happen for us to find out this was a problem
    • mai - Ten minutes left. How do we want to leave this section?
      • I feel like I've personally named what I want to prioritize as projects.
    • prusing gigabit connection from Paxio
    • finishing out link from Chucks to Mary-Jo and Terry's
    • how do people want to take ownership of projects
    • grant - maybe we can wrap up by creating our short-list of projects?
    • jorrit - to be more specific and put it in context, wants to see in mai's uncle has internet, or more accurately wants mai to see if their uncle has internet
      • mai - i.e. monitoring as a project?
      • jorrit - yes, I think it's important
      • grant - Are you talking analog monitoring - knocking on doors?
      • jorrit - We can see the data, but I think you're right to bring up social monitoring as well
      • grant - Another project I feel like we haven't talked a lot about as far as onboarding people, do node mounts, train people, etc. .... loosely formalizing that process. I think the mounting repo is a good start, and I'd like to be involved in that on an active level. monitoring + interacting with people, site survey as a means of outreach
      • ben - knowledge and documentation is important, but building culture around this type of training and sharing knowledge is almost more important, maybe we need a node mounting retreat (grant: a PONI retreat?)
    • bengo - another thing I've seen that is project managery is user stories, either physically or virtually
      • it would be good to see the timeline of a mount, from outreach to completion... being able to see all the tasks to completion. This would be great to provide as a runbook for node mounters and/or operators.
      • This gives us something we can revise and improve upon, and it gives us actual knowledge management instead of just ad-hoc peer-to-peer knowledge transfer.
      • Another user story map - setting up a home node.

bandwidth, getting an uplink connections with donated bandwidth, e.g. pursue Paxio's gigabit connection, internet archive creating a way to configure a node without touching command line move microgrant project forward improve network health monitoring solution onboarding people (friendly materials), do node mounts, train people, user story maps, etc. .... loosely formalizing that process organize code around software best practices organize documentation (wiki, github,, etc.) be more in touch with the people who actually use peoplesopen finishing link from Chucks to Mary-Jo and Terry's organize mesh cage

Discussion: Communication & Outreach - How to align with project goals

  • Grant: suggestion - circle back around to discussing projects until we complete the other two discussion items
  • Mai - I feel like we hadn't wrapped up the last section.
  • Jorrit - observation: the projects that we identify should be the basis of what we do for our organization's communication. Right now, the projects involve very personal communication, so the outreach and communication is already in place, I would argue.
    • Grant - I disagree on some points. There are partnerships that we could pursue that would be helpful. e.g. the internet archive. We know people there personally, but the internet archive itself isn't. Not a personal, close human friend.
    • mai - i was imagining, that we narrow down the projects and then talk about how we are communicating and doing outreach around it
      • brewster gave me TWO hugs last saturday and wanted to know if we'd "done the thing" yet :) i also asked him about how to cement a partnership with some kinda MOU and/or at least putting their logo on our page. he seemed... flippant, kinda "sure, sounds cool"
        • me: "I'm not experienced in the formalities of partnership agreements, but my initial thoughts are:

1) establishing a peering agreement between Internet Archive and People's Open Network - we co-created the Network Commons License back in 2014 in tandem with the Free Network Foundation, Guifi, Freifunk, Funkfeur, Ninux, Altermundi, wlan-slovenia, Village Telco, and Austin Freenet. I believe NYC Meshnet uses this license now. It's based on the Pico Peering Agreement and other established free network peering agreements 2) listing Internet Archive as a partner on the People's Open Network About page"

        • brewster: "I hope the tower is useful to you. I don't have any issues with new equipment up there as long as it does not interfere, but we have to be able to turn it off or take it down at any time. Therefore, may I suggest that the equipment be donated to the Internet Archive? Volunteer help to install it is welcome (but I have not looked at liability issues etc, but I dont expect this will be a problem). We do not expect to turn it off, but this is not a business for us-- it is a community offering, so we need to be able to back out for any reason. As a dutch colleague once said "If its not a problem, its not a problem." I think it is nifty you are working on some form of license. I have asked our office manager, Chris Butler, to read it. I hope there is a "termination for any reason" provision. but hope it works all the way around.
    • jorrit - we decided a few meeting ago that we would not pursue a peering agreement with Internet Archive
    • grant - but does this set a precedent re: Paxio
    • jorrit - no, the IA connection started a certain way and so we decdied not to, Paxio could be different

Candidate Top Priorities:

  • Mai: pursue bandwidth
  • Jorrit: Maintain existing network
  • Benny: I want to contribute to the two above
  • Bengo: wants to be able have people ask "great, can you give me a node?" and be able to say "yes"
    • Bengo: Same. Also, I think it should be super easy for people to get onboard with project - finding out about it, getting a node, plug it in. Don't have to be a programmer.
    • Grant: I don't see just letting people plug in without a personal connection as having been effective in the past. I think personal connections to the project are important for things to actually work.
  • Ben: accesibility and ergonomics of the project, also the two above.
  • Jorrit: I'm noticing a consistent push to organically grow the existing network. I'm hearing that we want want more bandwidth, and we want to maintain things, and we want to *scale human-wise*.
  • Mai: I think for the time that we have (and Bengo raises a good point) - we don't have a lot of key people here. Was assuming we were on the same page about some things but realized we are not there quite yet. Can we do this decisionmaking about the priorities and then have working groups to decide what those projects / subpriorities are?
    • Jorrit: I disagree - these top priorities are guiding principles. What do we care about? We can highlight the high level stuff, and then focus on your aunt and uncle's place, paxio, and this bug.
    • mai - I don't think we disagree.
    • mai - i think having these three principles, we use that as a starting point to decide what the projects and for that to be the way we do outreach, i would argue that we don't know if the projects proposed are the best things to be worked on.
    • Would be good to put it on Loomio to get input from other project members to clarify the extent to which those projects *are* what we want to prioritize.
    • <Much discussion ensues: including folks who aren't here, what can we do now, etc>

Themes: Supply the Network.

    • pursue bandwidth
    • connect people, fix bug 27

Maintain the Network.

    • monitor/operate network
    • financial sustainability

Grow the Network.

    • how do we scale, humanwise
    • node whisper, PONI

mai : where do people fit into these themes?

finishing link from Chucks to Mary-Joe and Terry's, BUG 27 pursue Paxio link

Discussion: Next steps - Execution, accountability, and timelines

  • bengo/grant: Categorize above candidate projects into the three themes
  • bengo: Request further candidate projects for each theme on mailing list
  • Grant:
    • Priorities:
      • bug 27.
      • Going to reed brothers and working on the paxio link
      • Mozilla grant
    • Available: Thursday during the day in sudoroom. Sunday office hours. A lot of time the next few weeks, then in and out for a bit.
  • Seth:
    • Priorities
      • PONI / Whispering
      • Gigabit link. Important to getting people on board.
    • Available Tuesday and Sunday.
  • Jorrit
    • Priorities:
      • Bug 27
      • Stabilizing the network
      • Helping people learn more about how stuff works.
    • Availability: Figuring stuff out with my freelancing. Planning to only work on things that are needed in the community (e.g. #27). Trying to be hands-off otherwise.
  • Mai
    • Priorities:
      • Working as point-person on Paxio
      • Mozilla grant
        • Figuring out a way to create at least a base package / prototype for mozilla
      • Really thinking about how we can get more financial resources.
    • Availability:
  • Bengo
    • Priorities:
      • I wrote a lot of code recently to make it easier to spin up exit nodes faster. I'd like to wrap that up.
      • Running additional nodes at home to keep a better eye on the status of the network and improve my own understanding of the network.
      • Doing whatever is at the top of the priority list... or bringing that priority list into existence.
    • Availability: More available in the beginning of May.
  • Benny
    • Priorities:
      • I want to interview people about why they work on this project when I get back, and transcribe the interview.
    • Availability: Out of town the rest of the month, but can help with remote debugging. Available to help folks that are working on Thursdays.
  • Ben
    • Priorities:
      • Getting bandwidth so that we have something to offer when we engage with other communities.
      • Truck/vehicle for transferring equipment! I feel like access to a vehicle - specifically the ability to transport ladders, 10' strut and conduit, etc. when people are ready to do so - has made it much harder to have a coherent mounting strategy.
        • jenny: robb has a van he's down to use for people's open stuffz, but it needs to be fixed (small potatoes automech job)
      • Figuring out how to coordinate work w/ others outside of Sunday meetings. Iterating on that to get an idea of what kinds of time management and/or accountability processes might be a good fit for the group.
    • Availability: I'll be online at 1pm every weekday to attend to organizational stuff. Scheduled meetings and office hours.
  • Juul
    • Priorities:
      • People would use funding? I can think of a few places we can go.
    • Availability: Not a lot of time to contribute to the technical things in the next few months, but I can help with connecting people to other people and opportunities. I feel like we have a lot that we don't cash in on.
  • Jenny
    • Priorities:
      • Working on fundraising, business plan/finances, trello/proj management organizin'
      • digital literacy workshops + laptops distribution to round out the needs for internet access
      • Archive tower and partnership w/ Archive
      • Fruitvale cluster and outreach
    • Availability: Out of town from the 18th-25th. No jorb yet, so otherwise available .
    • ANNOUNCE: got a $2500 grant from the Peace and Life Foundation. $1000 donation incoming from a combo of Will + Will's employer (matching donation)

bengo's mentioned artifacts

Final reflections / metanotes

  • Benny
    • Really useful for me and nice to hear peoples concerns and priorities — seems like this would be a good kind of space to give ourselves periodically.
    • Discussion possibilities felt more open-ended than the reguar meetings, and just as intentional.
    • More "improving our process" projects than I expected, but that’s cool
    • At some point we moved from specific projects, like "plug n play homenode" to general categories, like "accessibility and ergonomics".
    • Things started to feel weird at the end. Dunno if it’s because I’m in New York.
  • Mai:
    • I was hoping that we could have gone into this with a bit clarity regarding our intention, and I think that's why we bounced between specific and broad.
    • I think it was a bit ambitious in scope, maybe, but it's also hard to say because it was hard to reign in the conversation. The scope didn't feel consistent despite agreeing to one at the onset.
    • Maybe the meeting was too long.
    • Things felt a little fraught at the end. I think we could improve our communication.
  • Bengo:
    • I'm glad to be back here. It's good to be back and around likeminded individuals.
    • It resonates with me what Benny said about the regular meetings being limited by the agenda in terms of what topics get visited, whereas this felt really open.
    • What's useful to me is an artifact that's evolving meeting-to-meeting besides just copying and pasting last week's action items. I'd like to think about that this week to figure out how we can have that.
  • Ben
    • Definitely more stressful toward the end -- dunno how much of that was time. It's sort of weird because we had disagreements about what the meeting was about and within the meeting--I felt like I expended a lot of energy trying to mediate that-- but I also think that's exactly what the meeting was for... identifying what's important to people within the group. I hope that people don't feel too bummed. I feel really good about the meeting in terms of the people being here who I've seen consistently-- including people remotely--I feel good that we're all here hashing things out and having hard conversations. I hope that doing so tonight at least makes it clear to each of us present what's important to the others, and who we can go to in order to follow up on what we see as important to those present. There's room for us to do that and continue iterating on our values as people become available to do so.
  • Mai - the fact that we're here and stressing out about the projects means that it's important to us--want to recognize that
  • Grant
    • The things we didn't talk about, on some levels, were more telling to me. Things that have been talked about in the past but didn't get talked about in this meeting that's supposed to be about strategy and goals.
    • It's good to see people here, and it's also disappointing to not see people here, whether they've been around for a long time or not, that have contributed in the past.
    • I think the vibe kinda took a turn.
    • I think we did come up with some things we want to work on for the next week or so. ...It's late.
  • Seth
    • I feel like I've been more of an observer than a participant.
  • Jorrit
    • Compared to a year ago, this group totally changed. The knowledge is a little bit more distributed, and I think there's also a little bit more consistency. There's a lot to improve still.
    • What this meeting made me realize is that if you really want to be careful with the time we have as volunteers, or even later if we get paid, that we really have to be a little less chaotic in the things we do. Including education, operating a network, etc. That might be a bit of a culture shift which might or might not interest certain people.
  • Juul
    • I wasn't here for most of the time.
    • I was at the JPB event this weekend. There's a project brewing out of the archive and I want to mention it while it's in my memory.
    • Someone who's come to a couple of these meetings wants to revive/reform the community wifi project in SF. They got famous people on their board.

Misc. Notes