Open Source From Standing Rock To Your Home Community
At Standing Rock we had as many as 20,000 people living in open fields, along a hillside, and tucked behind a grove of trees, all without the modern infrastructure that makes a city of that size function today. The community at the camps had to generate our own electricity, bring Internet from 10 miles away without access to the fiber lines, boost cell phone signals from far away, communicate over handheld radios, get safe water to everyone, manage waste, and generally stay warm and well fed even through the harsh winter. We did all this while sustaining serious attacks on our equipment from private security infiltrators. The lessons from that experience can be useful whether you are joining one of the many currently active water protector camps around the US or trying to find ways to be more sustainable in your own community.
Consider a variety of methods for power generation, and why some won out at Standing Rock but others may be better elsewhere. How do you keep electricity use within your generation capacit? Every community needs to choose its trade-offs, but lots of money or lots of time can give you almost anything you want. LED holiday lights are super useful, too.
Internet connectivity is a must, but how do you get it? Hint: Satellite probably isn’t the answer, unless you have a sponsor with VERY deep pockets. Ubiquiti gear is one good option if you have an ISP that will work with you to extend their reach to your camp or community. 4GLTE may work for your camp or community, too, and a few boosting techniques can make it reach a larger area AND improve speed (to a point). Local caching of frequently needed pages can help decrease total bandwidth usage to the ISP, and a local Intranet can give you even more advantages: A Mumble server for encrypted comms, Discord for local conversations, a community news site with calendar of events, and/or locally hosted resources for students in your school(s).
Get your Ham license. It’s way more useful than you imagine, even if it isn’t “private” at all. Better still, you can use your Ham license to build and pilot better drones than the ones you can get off the shelf.
It may not seem glamorous, but getting safe water and managing waste is really important, too. There are low-tech and higher-tech solutions for the sustainability-minded hacktivist.
As a special bonus, learn the wonderful game of “A–hole or Infiltrator”, because, let’s face it, we all do stupid things.
Elior Sterling, Geeks Without Bounds
Elior Sterling is a life long proponent of software freedom. He spent the first 15+ years of his career working for companies like Wells Fargo Bank, Amazon.com and a string of startups you barely remember. His ideas about the importance of Libre software and hardware have been refined in the fires of civic and humanitarian projects that affect marginalized people on the outside of the digital divide. He has worked on software projects to improve public water service in Tanzania, environmental tracking in Guatemala, protection of indigenous lands in Ecuador and the US, and the protection of refugees in Jordan and Mexico. In recent years, much of his work has revolved around keeping vulnerable people (and their digital doppelgangers) safe while facing harassment from individuals, hate groups, and governments.