Mesh/17 Feb 2018

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People's Open Network Strategic Plan

Strategic Plan Meeting

  • Time: Sat 17 Feb 2018 2-4:30pm
  • Location: Omni (exact location tbd)
  • Facilitator: Mai
  • Stacktaker: Jenny
  • Notetaker(s): Jenny, Grant


  • 2:00 ~ 2:15 -- Intro: review agenda + meeting scope + Mozilla grant
  • 2:15 ~ 2:45 -- SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunites and Threats) analysis / allies-adversary exercises
  • 2:45 ~ 3:00 -- Project scope brainstorm
  • 3:00 ~ 3:15 -- Break
  • 3:15 ~ 3:45 -- Outline project plan
  • 3:45 ~ 4:15 -- Organizational structure
  • 4:15 ~ 4:30 -- Wrap up: Next steps?
  • 4:30 -- END

Suggested preparation

Strategic Plan Notes

2-2:15pm: Review Agenda & Mozilla Grant

  • Review agenda & agree on schedule and format
  • What are the most important decisions/plans we want to get out of this meeting?
    • mai - whaat are concrete plans are for where we get internet, are we going to rely on people donating bandwidth or find an access point for bandwidth, secondly, which neighborhood / community of focus to demonstrate working prototype

who can contribute and commit to work on the project

    • sierk - nothing to add
    • marc - expectations? to procrastinate stuff, come out with an idea of how much time people have, commitment levels
    • jorrit- come out with some sort of organizational guidline, who do we engage with how do we not engage with, this is probably already stated in many forms, also expect to not just to get things done, a group of people who educate each other, distribute work in an orginzational way, how do we create an orginzation that doe snot just get things done of three months but the long term
    • arthur - mostly just hear to listen and be involved in sudomesh going forward, reading meeting minutes only goes so far
    • jnny - how to better distribute labor/task/work/focus areas, also just getting on the same page as value alignment, organizational structure to be in a position to compensate people who are contributing their time, also be cool if people could contribute to the business plan and budget for seeking directors and officers insurance
    • blake - i wanted to get an understanding of sort of what we want to provide and from that i want to lay out a good software feature roadmap , how we're going to distributing nodes: are we gonna be sending out hardware to people or do we expect them to flash their own nodes. what typical user stories are gonna be and how we're gonna cater to that
    • grant: i expect similar things to blake as far as: what services are we providing as an organization, and what communities and community organization we want to work with. what our values are. obviously we want to work with orgs that align with our values.
    • daniel: to have a better liason between high tech folks and the newcombers who are not high tech. that way we don't loose a lot of people who come in. a liason between developers who are deep into the software and the rest of the organization. i understand that developers focus on what they need to do and don't have a lot of time to explain.
      • jorrit: overlaps a bit with onboarding. it's all related

  • Review PON project as outlined in Mozilla/NSF grant

"We provide technical, organizational and, in the future, financial support to community groups seeking to seed networks in their local communities. To this end, we are in the process of designing a micro-granting program that includes initial hardware, tools, and educational materials."

  • jnny - interesting to think how we could reframe Mozilla's ideas of Internet Health - decentralization->collaboration&coalition-building; privacy&security->radical transparency & openness; digital inclusion->participation->mastery
    • Social Impact
      • Our solution includes materials for reproducing the design (technical documentation, tutorials), and curricula for skills such as cable crimping, node mounting and router flashing.
      • Our solution depends on developing community partners to provide broadband anchor points, we expect implementers to collaborate with these partners to conduct information gathering, workshops and other outreach, so that each installation can be adapted to local needs.
        • Those active in the network are engaged by collaborating with local peers to gain capacity on how to independently use and operate a local community network.
    • Scalability
      • Our design seeks to achieve scalability with a smaller, neighborhood-scale model that can be replicated across a community and adapted to local conditions. Local groups are empowered to self-govern by providing access to open documentation, open source software, hardware recommendations and connections to similar projects in different geographical locations.

    • Community
      • "This project is particularly suitable for areas where Internet access is available, but unevenly distributed. Point-to-point rooftop links can connect underserved areas to neighboring Extender Nodes up to 20+ miles away depending on line-of-sight. The existence of many "community hubs," such as housing coops, housing projects, community centers and libraries can be particularly beneficial in serving as bandwidth hubs, where the costs can be shared amongst many members or where there may already be excess bandwidth available. "
      • "Our design provides open access WiFi to the public in areas and situations where it is most needed, such as homeless encampments, public demonstrations, and city parks. In this way, a community wireless network using our firmware can supplement existing commons-based infrastructure and resources. "
      • "Given the self-repairing nature of mesh network routing protocols, our solution is also applicable to fragile networks caused by any number of disruptions that may cause one or more nodes to abruptly drop out of the network, such as natural disasters, censorship, or housing crises."

    • Technical Feasibility
      • Zero-configuration setup. Plug a Home Node into a power socket to connect to the network.
      • Intelligent relaying over multiple wifi radios to avoid the bandwidth and latency issues associated with relaying over a single radio.
      • Automatic mapping: With node operator consent, a new node uses wifi-based positioning to add its approximate location to a public mesh map.
      • A public, password-free wifi network through which any wifi-enabled device can connect to the mesh and the internet
      • A private, password-protected wifi network, isolated from the mesh, which can be used by the node operator's household to access the network privately and connect any devices that shouldn't be shared publicly (e.g. printers).
      • Ability to share a portion of the node operator's available bandwidth (if they already have their own internet) via an open wifi hotspot.
      • Automatic tunneling of traffic coming from the open wifi hotspot via a free non-logging VPN run by the community.
      • Ability to extend the wifi coverage by hooking long-range wifi routers (Extender Nodes) into one of the ethernet ports of the node.

A simple web UI that makes it easy for anyone to configure basic options like such as how much bandwidth to share, and their a private wifi network password, which also includes an assistant to establish a link when a new Extender Node is added to the Home Node.


  • grant: What is a working prototype?
  • Marc: There's a deadline. We can ignore it, set our own deadline. Decide what we think that should look like and what needs to be done to get there.
  • Sierk: Shouldn't focus on getting the grant, but what we want to do anyway
  • mai - that is what i was thinking fo rt this meeting, the language is not the grant contraining what we are doing, or change what we would be doing anyway
  • jorrit - what i hear, is that getting a bigger grant is a good thing and we need it, i don't know if it is a good thing, and I don't know if we need, what do you wanna do and how do you do it, rather than pursuign grant
  • mai - it's just a deadline to have something by june,
  • jenny - as far as goals we should have by june, tangible mapping & monitoring and an example of a community/neighborhood we are serving
    • sierk: good to get documentation of how to approach a neighborhood, beyond technical, and get the community onboard. at BYOI 2 of the speakers emphasized focus on community and politics wrt implementation
  • grant: what we have, what we're lacking, what we can do, possible drawbacks
  • mai: what we have as a community (resources)

3:00-3:25pm: SWOT Analysis

SWOT (Strengths Weaknesses Opportunites and Threats) Analysis

Identify our biggest SWOT items through sticker vote

  • Strengths
    • organizing workshops / skillshares
    • publicity / community interest
    • do-ocracy (anyone can participate, jump in)
      • daniel: shares experience with, free sharing, changing cultural brainwashing of following orders
    • grant: lots of equipment!
    • jorrit: very international community
    • daniel: knowledge, technical knowledge
    • mai: many local community partnerships
    • arthur: actually really easy to flash a home node
  • Weaknesses
    • sierK; do-ocracy (difficult for new folks to plug in; impact on diversity)
      • juul: less of a technical deficiency and more a culture of being told what to do
    • mai: lack of diversity
    • arthur: lack of nodes - any number of us could flash the total # in an afternoon. problem of scaling
    • lack of updated technical documentation / stale repos
  • Opportunities
    • sierk: demonstrating and teaching do-ocratic culture - encouraging 'leaderlessness'
    • daniel: taking the time to interact with people personally who aren't as comfortable w/ do-ocracy etc / mentorship; creating a trusting environment
    • mai: more community partnerships & connections - more tangible way of helping
    • arthur/jenny: lots of node requests (53 to be exact) = opportunities for mounting & expanding the mesh
    • jorrit: creating rigorous documentation by sharing/percolating knowledge with others when things are learned / continual education / 1on1 training
  • Threats
    • daniel: the word 'leadership' is dividing communities. here it means more pushing people down rather than bringing them up
    • jorrit: letting ourselves be motivated/steered by money/grants
    • jorrit: misaligned values (references issue w/ IFTF and where they get their money)
      • chaos [juul: not a threat! opportunity. strength!]
    • grant: burnout.

2:45-3pm: Project scope brainstorm

What are our small, medium, and big goals?

    • jenny: mapping/monitoring; tangible interconnected neighborhood (eg in Richmond or Fruitvale)
      • arthur: concens at last BYOI re: live mapping
        • sierk: two kinds of mapping - of nodes or of coverage area
    • documentation re: community outreach
    • jorrit - connected to outreach, would like two workshopd, one before where we talk to a community (provide info) and then one afterwards to see what changed
    • daniel - we have a beautiful ballroom, but we could find a local place to take the workshops to.
    • sierk - have interconnected neighborhoods, document with collaborating with partners in those neighborhoods.


    • juul - wants to focus on zeroconf node, preventing us from scaling
    • jorrit: would like to be able to give someone new an internet-in-a-box / cow&chicken
      • grant: nodemount bag - all you need to set up a node (eg what monkeybrains does)
    • juul: unknowns around firmware flashing wrt ubiquiti & tp-link firmware lockdowns. would like to figure out state of flashing modern hardware, support from openwrt, how do we deal with it.?
      • jenny: we should talk to the LibreMesh folks
    • juul: prototype of little bag w/ node & cable for running a node off 12V carplug


  • How do we facilitate a sense of shared ownership of and membership in the network-as-community? +1
    • jorrit - are we going to focus by connecting to people, or by covering area. figure out areas that are technically feasible to connect or to find people interested and try to make it work
      • grant: example of gung-ho guy from alameda
    • jnny - suggesting richmond and fruitvale because we have potential connections in those areas already.
    • jorrit - how do we select groups we work with
    • mai: interviews with people who've been working on this (eg the BYOI panel, C4MJ) - community network expert survey
    • mai: community survey


( ! ) I find it interesting to see that the "Community" and "Organizational" are nearly empty and the "Technical" section is detailed. I think this highlights my desire that we further develop (community) organizing skills.

    • there's a whole section on organization at the bottom...
    • jenny: viable inventory and sticker-printing for nodes
    • sierk: documentation/guide for administrators / node owners manual


3:25-3:35pm: Break

3:35-3:55pm: Outline rough project Plan

  • Review the brainstorm: What are Minimum Viable Product ideas vs. moonshot ideas? (suggest to focus on community building: our "product" is a community in my mind)
  • What is the very *least* we could do to satisfy our goals between Feb - June 2018?
    • In other words, what do we prioritize?
  • What would success look like after 3.5 months?

3:55-4:15pm: Organizational structure

  • How should we assign roles and responsibilities?
    • Potential coordination roles for discussion: firmware development, bug fixing, community outreach/node mounting, documentation, financials, volunteer coordinating/onboarding?

--- should there be a clear distinction of teams/facilators and how would these teams coordinate their effort and reportbacks

  • Who is able to commit time to PON and how much?
    • grant: been spending a lot of time working on outreach, node mounts, documentation. can keep contributing at this level right now, but need to switch focus soon in order to make $$$ - kind of all-or-nothing for me, wouldn't want to
    • daniel: willing to work on Saturdays, on and off Tuesdays. would like to participate in how-to documentation
    • jenny: teeing up the bureaucracy/admin so it's easy for others to do in the future. need to figure out how to sustain myself in the next 3-6 months. documentation, fundraising, outreach, node mounting, events
    • arthur: one day a week on the weekends, small contributions after work on weekdays. capable of doing an end-to-end nodemount now once i figure out serial stuff. starting to dig into makenode and learning about the firmware
    • jorit: help stabilize the network. includes helping to keep the firmware healthy. helping to keep the exit nodes healthy., and most importantly helping others to do the same. share what i've learned and keep that knowledge alive & scale it. bug reviews, mentoring, documentation/creating guides to onboard others. sometimes the time commitent is really intense, other things are more. cant make any time commitments - a few hours/week to 4 days/week
    • juul: can't put any time into this other than answering questions until ~mid-March. chance i won't have a job after that - so i could put much more time in - but also chance i'll still be working fulltime until June depending on funding. In June will probably go down to halftime. In the time I do have I want to work on getting us off makenode and the auomated mapping.
    • sierk: also looking for paid work, probably part-time. would like to help more with nodemounts, but sundays are often full. want to focus on the things folks dont have time for that i think needs some work. depends, but will be available. want to spend time on organizing documentation and setting up & maintaining local services.
    • mai: would like to help with any admin/filing/fundraising stuff w/ jenny. would like to be able to lead a nodemount. outreach & partnership development; organizing how we work together. any writing that needs to be done - fundraising/newsletter/blogging/outreach materials. same boat as grant&jenny, looking for jobs - if a fulltime opportunity comes up, won't be able to commit. much time spent applying for jobs, should i spend that time working on fundraising for this?
    • jenny: if i could backtrack and budget in compensation for key roles like accounting, event management, building maintenance - back in the early days of omni i absolutely would have. as it stands, that work's fallen on the shoulders of 3-4 people working more than full-time for years - and that's of a very small minority of people who can afford to do so. always a dream of sudomesh to be able to support the creation of worker co-ops or contractor positions to sustain those who keep the project alive.
    • jorrit: in a way i see it as an outcome of this grant. restating what jenny said.
    • sierk: we should at some point define what were potential tasks that could be compensated. e.g. issues like the exit node emergency could be compensated. there are other more long term developments where we want to have volunteers in there. maybe we should have a discussion when there's money available to pay people what sort of tasks should be paid.
    • mai: we could have people on call and making sure that those peope are paid. i think we have to really think concretely about what we want to accomplish in the next months to a year and what tasks would be involved and how are we going to compensate those people. what sort of models should we look at, e.g. like co-ops
    • jorrit: one of the things i'd like to offer as a "things we do before june". we wrote into the budget the idea of micro-grants. the other idea was not to be the organization to be handing out money but create a list of trusted people who can do things and those people can handle stuff as a sole proprietor. for june figure out a couple of different ways that people can make a living.
    • mai: i'd say if we document that progress and these models then we can submit that as part of our prototype. if we can be on track to making a model like this work in the coming months.
      • grant: what is a working prototype? includes the organization, how we organize ourselves & how we function. tech + community + organization
        • jorrit: yes, agree, but think we have a nice community already. not "we don't have a prototype" but "we can make it better
      • juul: look at existing models from european groups. someone getting paid for one task vs. someone getting paid continuously - should split into different orgs. Guifi for example doesn't take care of providing internet access - just infrastructure. Money from EU spent on putting in fiber to places lacking infrastructure. When I asked what they did to prevent money from ruining everything - they prevent or discourage speculation. The exact opposite of Bitcoin - design model around people who will only speculate on something that will have no value later. Spend as much as possible of $$ coming into sudomesh on infrastructure. People doing the work not be hired directly but start their own collective - set domain of work commitment.
        • mai: separate from sudomesjh?
          • juul: yes, if continuous income. money can also flow between the two.
      • juul: re: microgrants - see ssbc. one person makes the decisions. been disagreements, resolved via one person making final decision
        • jorrit: decision-making process - if there's a lot of disagreement, shows we're talking with each other
          • juul: saying community doesn't split over these disagreements
  • How should we compensate people for their time?
  • Should we use something like Loomio to try to offload decisionmaking from Tues meetings? +1 -1 I believe in person discussion establish trust and helps build consensus

4:15-4:30pm: Wrapup & Next Steps

  • I like sending this survey after the first strategic meeting but before the second, maybe we could attach it to the Feb. newsletter also? +1
  • mai: more meetings. need to make decisions. work sprint to deeper dive?
    • jorrit: don't think we need more meetings. lot here we do already - matter of prioritizing, picking communities of focus. personally have capacity for this kind of meeting about once every 3mos
      • mai: another way is to use something like loomio
    • grant: maybe have a section of Tuesdays re: org. or make a list and move things around - check in with bottomliners etc.
    • sierk: would be helpful if this was divided into some subprojects and could see who's working on what things. maybe we could use the trello? and see who's working on what subprojects.
    • jenny: list action items as wrapup. also we should have a hackathon! maybe mid-march or early april?
    • mai: bank on peoples' enthusiasm? or carve out more deliberate space to continue this conversation? would like to do more fundraising, but can't do it unless i can tell a story about what we'd do with that money. current MO is not as much of a package if we were to do, say, a crowdfunding campaign.
    • daniel - why don't we append names to this list and work on reaching out to get more people involved.
    • jorrit: can take this down, make proposals, have discussions at the meetings

Action Items

  • 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


  • sierk: doing what we were going to do, but more organized
  • juul: nice to talk. been really tired but not @ this meeting. fitz may set up a workshop for this group for people interested in learning about our new RF station in sudoroom (how radio works)
  • jorrit: was nice. getting better at putting words at what we're trying to do, important
  • arthur: seems like action items correspond to the brainstorm
  • jenny:
  • daniel: happy we put names to things before we left!
  • grant: twas good. would like to start working toward things. action items! guidance iz good.
  • mai: glad we talked through some stuff. didn't hit all of our discussion points re: goals. didn't discuss org plan re: onboarding. maybe a topic for an upcoming tuesday? discuss how we can get people involved on the different subprojects. will get better at using trello.
    • grant: open channels of communication important for onboarding