Participation Type


Session Title

Cooperative Broadband: Connecting Rural Places to the World On Their Own Terms

Session Abstract or Summary

Oftentimes, the vision for change in rural places involves “developing” them - adding infrastructure, such as roads and businesses and lights, following an urban development model for a place whose geography will never allow it to be “urban”. What does it mean to rethink community economic development in a way that centers rurality, rather than viewing it as something to be overcome?

The Southern Connected Communities Project, a brain-child of rural community organizing group Sustainable and Equitable Agricultural Development, is working at the grassroots to connect issues of digital justice to the landscape we work in, to figure out how the internet can be non-invasively distributed in our mountain regions. Following a do-it-yourself ethic that we in this region are often proud of, we will be seeking to form a broadband cooperative in the style of other member-owned utility cooperatives in the rural South.

During this workshop, we will explore the methods that other groups have used to fit their vision of digital justice into the environments they work in, in localities as diverse as an island in Washington State, a neighborhood in Detroit, Red Hook, Brooklyn, and rural Catalonia, Spain - taking the internet back from the overpriced skyscrapers of Silicon Valley and redistributing both the technology and the knowledge. We create the content - we should own the platform.

Presentation #1 Title

Organizing a Cooperative in Cosby, TN

Presentation #1 Abstract or Summary

Caitlin Myers will discuss her efforts to bring cooperatively-owned broadband infrastructure to Cosby, Tennessee, particularly in terms of exploring cooperative business models.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #1

Katie Myers lives in Knoxville and graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She currently works for Sustainable & Equitable Agricultural Development and the Southern Connected Communities Project, helping Sevier County, Tennessee develop a plan for a member-owned internet cooperative. They have contributed to Scalawag Magazine and 100 Days in Appalachia on the subject. In other parts of their life, they have been a playwright, an early childhood educator, and a humanitarian aid volunteer at the US-Mexico border.

Presentation #2 Title

An Educational Internet Service Provider in New Market, TN

Presentation #2 Abstract or Summary

Jamie Greig will discuss his efforts to partner with the Highlander Research and Education Center and his work with the Detroit Digital Justice project, asking participants to envision technology as something community members can own, operate, and understand. Jamie will discuss his work to create a digital justice pedagogy for the rural Southeast.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #2

Jamie Greig is a 4th year PhD candidate and community broadband coordinator. He is originally from Aberdeen, Scotland, but now lives in Knoxville, Tennessee. He has a BA in Journalism from the Robert Gordon University (Aberdeen, Scotland) and an MS in Communication & Information from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. His research focuses on models of rural/underserved broadband deployment (specifically, cooperative models) and his work as a community broadband coordinator is with the “Southern Connected Communities” wireless broadband project at the Highlander Education and Research Center in New Market, Tennessee.

Presentation #3 Title

Community Land and Community Technology in the Clearfork Valley

Presentation #3 Abstract or Summary

April Jarocki will discuss her work with a community land trust in Eagan, TN, connecting the different forms of extraction experienced by her coal country community. Resource ownership issues in Appalachia go beyond land, and extend to utilities: water, electricity, and the internet.

At-A-Glance Bio- Presenter #3

April Jarocki lives in Clairfield, TN with her 3 youngest children. She has been an AmeriCorps VISTA with Woodland Community Land Trust for the last 3 years and now works as the Clearfork Valley Coordinator for Southern Connected Communities. She also is the Coordinator for the Clearfork Citizens Water Monitoring Project at Clearfork Community Institute.

This document is currently not available here.



Organizing a Cooperative in Cosby, TN

Caitlin Myers will discuss her efforts to bring cooperatively-owned broadband infrastructure to Cosby, Tennessee, particularly in terms of exploring cooperative business models.