Sorry but due to weather we are cancelling today’s open house. We’ll reschedule in January.
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ASHEVILLE, N.C. – A unique year-end online and on-air fund drive kicks off Monday, Dec. 14 as the nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN) unveils new efforts to extend broadband Internet services to underserved areas of Asheville and western North Carolina.
The week-long fund drive culminates Saturday, Dec. 19 with an open house and CD sale at MAIN’s low-power radio station, MAIN-FM 103.5. The open house is set for 3 to 11 p.m. at the MAIN-FM studios at 75 Haywood Street in downtown Asheville.
“Our region has an historic opportunity to realize a vision for long-term economic prosperity that is home-grown and independent of the ebbs and flows of Wall Street,” said Michelle Smith, a MAIN board member and fund-drive chair. “Since 1996, MAIN has been a national leader in creating locally accountable media infrastructure, including Internet access, to meet the needs of Main Street instead of Wall Street,” she said.
Smith called MAIN “a remarkable success story” because it survived a decade in which the independent Internet service provider (ISP) sector was virtually eliminated. “MAIN not only survived, we also built a radio station, helped countless citizens, businesses and nonprofits with their Internet needs – and we are playing a growing role in shaping state and federal Internet policies,” she said.
While many policymakers assume that only large national corporations can build and operate broadband networks, MAIN has shown that local and regional broadband networks are not only possible, they are more cost-effective. “The big telephone and cable providers are investing in expensive monitoring technology to track how their subscribers use the Internet,” said MAIN founder and executive director Wally Bowen. “Local nonprofit networks have no need for these technologies. That’s one reason our networks are more cost-effective to build and operate.”
Bowen says local broadband networks have other advantages: they don’t outsource jobs, and they keep Internet dollars in the local economy. “We also promote what economists call ‘social capital’ formation, which means that our IT staff is available to share their expertise in the community as mentors for our youth and as technical advisors for local entrepreneurs,” Bowen said.
On Thursday, Dec. 17, MAIN will unveil a plan for the nation’s first “community cloud computing” platform for advanced online tools and applications. “Most small businesses and nonprofits aren’t aware of, or can’t afford, some of the powerful new tools – such as cloud services and virtualization – now used by many Fortune 500 companies,” said Bowen. “MAIN is ideally positioned to provide cloud computing services that are customized for our local and regional economy.”
Virtualization enables a single computer to function like multiple machines, helping businesses and nonprofits save on hardware and energy costs. Cloud computing allows a user to operate software and services from remotely hosted computers rather than on the user’s own machine. MAIN’s partner in the project is Red Hat, the Raleigh-based open-source software company and global leader in cloud computing design and implementation.
MAIN is leading a coalition of local agencies and nonprofits to prepare a federal broadband grant proposal – to include the cloud computing project – to expand public-access to the Internet and provide training for underserved citizens in public housing and in the city’s homeless shelters. MAIN also has a pending $2.5 million stimulus proposal to expand broadband access in underserved areas such as Graham County, Mt. Mitchell State Park, and Asheville’s public housing neighborhoods. The stimulus program, however, has been temporarily suspended as federal officials seek guidance from a new national broadband strategy.
“This is a difficult time for nonprofits and not a good time for fundraising, as so many of our neighbors are struggling,” said Bowen. “Internet access is essential for surviving in today’s economy. You can give a fish to a hungry person, or teach them how to fish. Our work does the latter by empowering those who are at-risk to help themselves.”
The fund drive features radio interviews with area citizens whose lives have been impacted by MAIN, as well as musical guests including Jen & The Juice, Galen Kipar, Dawn Humphrey, and members of Larry Keel and the Natural Bridge. Listen and donate online at www.main-fm.org or call 828-258-0085.
Did you miss the show Monday night?!
Never fear, our show featuring Femcees from past, present and future will be re-broadcast this Saturday, 8-10 pm. It was a great show for those who missed it, and now you have another chance! (And of course, you can check out the archive anytime.)
Our Women in hip hop show went so well, we will be continuing with the theme next Monday, December 7, 9-11pm! Thanks for tuning in. Peace.
Check us out on Facebook too: http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=116154170371&ref=ts