Tag: "institute for local self-reliance"

Posted March 18, 2020 by lgonzalez

As Senior Researcher Lisa Gonzalez approaches her last few days here at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, she took some time to reflect on her eight years with the Community Broadband Networks Initiative. Lisa is our team's secret weapon, and though we are sad to see her go, we wish her the best of luck in her future position with the State of Minnesota. Read her farewell below.


As I write this, it's March 2020 and the world is in the early days of a global pandemic. The novel coronavirus and COVID-19 have stranded many students and parents at home where they are working, streaming, and trying to "flatten the curve" to limit infections. As a result, our country's Internet networks are being pushed and tested. In many ways, this sort of situation is an ideal time for this Senior Researcher to pass the torch.

With feelings of bittersweet excitement, I'm accepting an opportunity which will allow me to use all the great knowledge I've soaked up at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance to work for the State of Minnesota. I'll miss sharing with you stories of local communities, their investments in community broadband networks, and the innovative approaches they take to improve local connectivity.

Lisa and CBN team

Eight years ago, the country was coming out of the Great Recession, and I had been unemployed for more than a year. As a single parent with two young kids, I was finding that my law degree and limited experience working in politics wasn't helping me find employment at a time when employment was hard for everyone to find. I had even been turned down for a stint as a part-time dog walker!

Then I came across a posting for a Research Associate position for the Institute for Local Self-Reliance with a special emphasis on Internet access and telecommunications. When I attended law school, I had planned on focusing on intellectual property law and had developed a curiosity in how the Internet might affect life and work for artists. Years earlier, I had finally earned my theatre degree and wondered how computers and live performances might influence each other. With nothing to lose, I applied and got the job.

I'm not ashamed to admit, and Christopher can confirm, that...

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Posted March 17, 2020 by Katie Kienbaum

Ready to see your name in lights? (Okay, okay, just 12 point font.)

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance is seeking a Broadband Writer and Editor to join the Institute’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The Community Broadband Networks team works to ensure all Americans have fast, affordable, and reliable Internet access by researching, reporting, and advising on issues such as community-owned broadband, network neutrality, and universal access. The new Broadband Writer and Editor will manage our site, MuniNetworks.org, and work closely with rest of our small but dedicated team.

View the listing on ILSR.org or below.


  • Managing MuniNetworks.org (this site!), a clearinghouse of the latest news, comprehensive reports, and statistics about community broadband networks. This includes researching, interviewing people over the phone, and authoring articles as well as managing posts, podcasts, and research material created by the team (65%)
  • Managing our archive of materials about municipal networks, cooperative networks, and other approaches in the broadband area (10%)

    Monitoring an overwhelming number of Google alerts and other streams of information to keep track of local developments around community networks (15%)

  • Working with the team to develop and review research projects and creative efforts to share our work. (10%)

A Successful Candidate Is:

  • An exceptionally good writer with the ability to convey complex ideas in a clear and compelling way. Able to write quickly when needed.
  • Attentive to accuracy, detail, and nuance.
  • A strong analytical thinker who can identify the pivotal questions and gaps in a piece.
  • Possesses a genuine enjoyment of collaboration with a willingness to give and receive honest feedback. Skilled at helping team members improve the articles they contribute.
  • Passionate about ILSR’s mission of countering corporate monopolies and building community power.
  • Enthusiastic about puns, alliteration, or some other means of playing with words.
  • Interested in helping to produce and potentially edit podcasts.

Preferred Qualifications:

  • More than 3 years of experience in journalism or...
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Posted January 22, 2020 by lgonzalez

MuniNetworks.org offers a cache of resources for people who have a particular interest in publicly owned broadband networks. As interest in municipal networks has increased in recent years, connections between people can help those researching and organizing. We know that there aren't many places where our audience can have discussions with like-minded individuals, so the Institute for Local Self-Reliance has now established two mailing lists for folks who share our common interests related to municipal fiber networks.

Talkers, Organizers, a Meeting of the Minds

For folks who want to share thoughts on municipal networks with others, including new developments, news on projects, or trends and topics, they can sign up on our Muni Fiber Discussion mailing list.

The list will be lightly moderated and is not a place to dump links to stories; we expect people to share thoughts and ideas and to debate new issues and important developments.

Learn more about the Muni Fiber Discussion mailing list and subscribe here.

For people who are interested in taking steps to organize a community toward developing their own municipal network, we've established the Muni Organizing mailing list. We expect people interested in this conversation to include some of the same people as on the discussion list and others that may be interested related topics, including economic development, connectivity and education or telehealth, and people interested in other community benefits. This discussion will also be lightly moderated.

We imagine the Muni Organizing mailing list to be:

Discussions about efforts to create community networks. This is meant to help share strategies, solve common problems, and otherwise work through the many challenges that accompany this organizing effort. We expect this may include local activists, business leaders, elected officials, city staff, consultants working in this space, and others. However, our goal is to keep it limited to those actually working in this area - not just anyone.

You can get details about the Muni Organizing mailing list and subscribe here.

For folks with experience in organizing, we encourage you to share strategies that work (and those...

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Posted December 23, 2019 by Jess Del Fiacco

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance seeks a GIS and Data Visualization Intern to support ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative in Minneapolis, MN. We are looking for candidates that have a passion for policy and visualizing data. We work on a wide range of issues including universal Internet access, network neutrality, and municipal broadband. You will be working alongside the GIS and Data Visualization Researcher for the Community Broadband Networks Initiative with the opportunity to learn aspects of GIS and data analysis specific to a public policy setting.  We strongly value a diverse workforce and are committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity. ILSR promotes an environment free of discrimination and harassment and our Minneapolis office is located in a welcoming neighborhood. 


  • Create informative maps using public databases
  • Compile statistics related to Internet access
  • Work creatively with the Community Broadband Networks Team to develop visual resources to educate policymakers and activists on issues around Internet access
  • Do ongoing research for longer reports and projects
  • Occasional projects for other initiatives as needed


  • Strong writing, research, and communications skills
  • Proficiency with statistics and GIS applications, experience cleaning data
  • Background knowledge of public policy and/or economics (preferred, but not required)
  • Creative - graphics, videos, audio, maps, etc.
  • Ability to work independently and juggle multiple tasks
  • Enthusiasm for policy work to improve Internet access for everyone
  • Experience using Python or R is a plus

You do not need to know much about broadband policy or telecommunications when you start.


Position includes 15-20 hour work week, a $15/ hour wage and a dynamic workforce of dedicated and friendly policy wonks trying to make the world a better place. 


Please use the subject line “Mapping and Data Research Intern” when sending your materials to mandrews(at)ilsr.org. Include a cover letter, resume, and example of a map or data visualization product. Applications are due Friday, January 17, 2020 but we will begin to review applicant materials before the deadline. Never hurts to try. Please do. ...

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Posted December 3, 2019 by Jess Del Fiacco

If you’re reading this, you value the resources and research available at MuniNetworks.org. Perhaps you’ve benefited from our technical advice, or you rely on us to stay up to date on community broadband news. For a limited time we have a unique opportunity for support like you to boost the work we do within the Community Broadband Networks Initiative here at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR).

Patagonia, a longtime foundation partner of ILSR, is matching all individual donations for a limited time. Individual donations are hugely important to us as an organization, and a match will allow you to make the biggest impact possible with your contribution.

Total funds from Patagonia are limited and the company is matching donations for a long list of great nonprofits like the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, so we're asking that you make your donation sooner rather than later before funds run out.

Up to $10,000 for each individual donation will be matched. Donations must be made through the Patagonia Action Works web page here.

Every dollar you give helps ensure we can continue and expand our work. As a reminder, there is a limited pool of money available, so take advantage of this generous opportunity and donate today!

Posted October 22, 2019 by Jess Del Fiacco

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance (ILSR) seeks a Communications and Podcast Production Intern to support ILSR’s Community Broadband Networks Initiative in Minneapolis, Minnesota. We are looking for candidates with audio editing experience and an interest in communications strategy. We work on a wide range of issues, including universal Internet access, network neutrality, and municipal broadband. We strongly value a diverse workforce and are committed to the principle of equal employment opportunity. ILSR promotes an environment free of discrimination and harassment and our Minneapolis office is located in a welcoming neighborhood. 


  • Review and edit audio for the Initiative’s weekly podcast series 
  • Edit transcripts for podcast episodes 
  • Create engaging social media content 
  • Assist with press outreach to promote our work
  • Track relevant news stories for sharing on our website and social media 
  • Other projects as assigned


  • Strong writing and editing skills
  • Experience editing audio (familiarity with Audacity software is a plus)
  • Creative - graphics, videos, audio, etc.
  • Ability to work independently and juggle multiple tasks
  • Enthusiasm for policy work to improve Internet access for everyone

You do not need to know much about broadband policy or telecommunications when you start.


15-20 hours per week 



Please use the subject line “Communications Internship Application” when sending your materials to delfiacco(at)ilsr.org. Include a cover letter, resume, and a writing sample. Applications are due Wednesday, Nov. 6.  

Posted October 15, 2019 by lgonzalez

When local communities apply for funding to improve local Internet infrastructure, grants and loans are often predicated on the need to deploy to unserved and underserved premises. Whether it's federal, state, or local sources, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) data determining whether or not a region has access to broadband is often the data that funding entities rely on. In recent years, it’s become apparent that FCC data grossly understates the lack of accessibility to broadband. Finally in August 2019, the FCC called for comments as they reconsider how to collect fixed broadband data. The Institute for Local Self-Reliance teamed up with Next Century Cities and several other organizations with whom we often collaborate, submitted both Comments and Reply Comments.

Fixing the Bad Data

We’ve covered this before, and the Commission has now decided to make changes. Traditionally, FCC data on broadband Internet access has been collected from Internet service providers (ISPs) that self-report on the areas they serve via Form 477. If a company has the ability to serve one premise in a census block they report to the Commission that they serve the entire block. Reality, however, often does not reflect such a high level of connectivity in one area.

When FCC data incorrectly determines that locations have the ability to subscribe to one or more Internet access companies, those areas lose eligibility for grants and loans for Internet network infrastructure. Sadly, these places are often caught in a strange purgatory between faulty FCC data and reality in which they can’t obtain funding to build out high-quality Internet access, and yet large Internet access companies don’t consider their areas a good investment due to low population densities.

logo-ilsr.PNG For years now, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and other organizations have worked to bring attention to the problem. A few lawmakers have pushed for change and several states, including Georgia and...

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Posted August 15, 2019 by lgonzalez

You are interested in Internet policy issues, but there aren't too many places that offer internships to suit your requirements. You feel the need to help build more resilient economies and encourage a more vibrant democracy and believe that your interest in technology is a great place to start. You love research and writing. And, hey, you should be able to enjoy your surroundings and work with cool colleagues, right?

You should apply for this internship! Don't delay - deadline for applications is August 23, 2019.

The Institute for Local Self-Reliance seeks a part-time paid intern for our Community Broadband Networks program.

Our Ideal Intern:

  • Is enthusiastic about technology policy and believes in balancing private interests with public interests
  • Writes compelling, well-researched and concise articles on a short deadline
  • Can juggle multiple tasks
  • Works independently and is good at managing their time
  • Is confident calling people to interview them over the phone
  • Is self-directed
  • Has a keen interest in economics and public policy

The Kinds of Things We Do:

  • We run MuniNetworks.org – the hub of the community networks movement
  • Create fact sheets, reports, videos, podcasts, and the occasional comic
  • Advise communities on ways to improve Internet access for businesses and residents
  • Educate the media and policymakers on Internet policy

We offer a competitive wage, flexible hours, and the opportunity to gain experience in the growing high tech public policy field.

How To Apply

  • Send an email to broadband@muninetworks.org with Subject Line: Internet Policy Intern Application
  • Explain in 3 BRIEF paragraphs why you are the ideal intern. Apply by August 23, 2019.
  • Attach a resume and writing sample.

No calls, please!

Posted July 24, 2019 by lgonzalez

An increasing number of local communities are realizing that investing in publicly owned Internet network infrastructure will lead to better connectivity. In order to help these communities in the early planning stages, the Institute for Local Self-Reliance and NEO Partners LLC have developed the Community Networks Quickstart Program.

Learn more at cnquickstart.com or email info@cnquickstart.com for more details.

We're Considering A Community Network, But….

Fiber optic, fixed wireless, a hybrid network…there are different possibilities for what type of technology is right for your community. You will also need to decide where to deploy and where to begin that deployment in order to help improve future success. You’ll want to hire engineers and consultants, but it would be helpful to have that extra dose of knowledge about facts and figures prior to working with them You want to know what questions to ask.

The Community Networks Quickstart Program will guide you through different deployment options — full Fiber-to-the-Premise, full wireless, and hybrid — each based specifically on your community and its specific needs. We use data that includes the size, population, and other characteristics of your community; we offer resources and advice to help you get started on the right foot. You also receive a recommended design that you can use when you apply for funding and refer to when you work with engineers, designers, and consultants. Our goal is not to replace the in-depth work that will come later, but to enhance it and to make your time with your consultants and other professionals more effective.

If your rural county has limited funds to dedicate toward broadband infrastructure deployment, one of your biggest challenges is deciding where to target that investment. The Community Networks Quickstart Program will help by examining different options so you can determine where your investment dollars will be most effective.

We're Helping People

Rock Island, Illinois, IT Director Tim Bain said:

"As we reached year-end I was able to identify a source of funds to proceed with the study in December 2018, and we had the results by January of 2019.

I believe the study was a worthy investment. It provided the outside review we...

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Posted June 28, 2019 by Jess Del Fiacco

Decades after bringing electricity and telephone services to America’s rural households, cooperatives are tackling a new challenge: the rural digital divide. New updates to our report Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model for the Internet Era, originally published in 2017, illustrate the remarkable progress co-ops have made in deploying fiber optic Internet access across the country. 

Download the updated report [PDF] here.

All versions of the report can be accessed from the Reports Archive for this report.

The report features new maps showing overall growth in areas served by co-ops, as well as expanded information about state legislation that supports co-op investment in broadband networks. A few important takeaways:

More than 140 co-ops across the country now offer residential gigabit Internet access to their members, reaching more than 300 communities. 

Co-ops connect 70.8 percent of North Dakota and 47.7 percent of South Dakota landmass to fiber, and residents enjoy some of the fastest Internet access speeds in the nation.

Georgia and Mississippi have overturned state laws banning co-ops from offering Internet access, and other states, including Colorado, Maryland, North Carolina, and Texas, have implemented legislation that will further ease the way. 

Co-ops have proven that this is a model that works. With increased support from federal and state governments, they will continue to connect rural Americans to economic and educational opportunities otherwise denied to them. 

Read Cooperatives Fiberize Rural America: A Trusted Model For The Internet Era [PDF] here.


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