Dear Editors and Members,
In response to the letter from the 8/30/18 issue: Yes, I agree. Many people are glued to their phones while shopping at the Coop. And yes, this can be frustrating. However, we cannot blame Internet access itself for members spending excessive time on their phones. We could blame the extra-large corporations which profit off the attention economy we all now live in. We could blame the 24-hour work-email cycle. We could even blame the food blogs that list ingredients you could only find at the Coop! It would be misguided to put the blame on access.
To suggest that members who need to be available for work should get data plans from their employers is an unrealistic idea. Given the fast-paced, high-rent, and competitive city we live in it is hard to imagine a world where a 2 hour and 45 minute shift can be done without the anxiety of getting back to work - a reminder that this is a Coop that exists in 2018…not 1970.
It goes without saying that most everything we need has been transferred in some form onto the Internet. Work. Healthcare. Transportation. All of these things that many people depend on can often be accessed over a simple Wi-Fi connection. To ignore this reality is to ensure that the digital divide stays divided. What I’m reading in the last response to my letter is this: You have a data plan? You get to be at the Coop and use the Internet. No data plan? Tough luck. I take issue with this stance as it seems to ignore the fact that data plans come at a price. It is to put a fiscal responsibility on the members where there might otherwise be room for free and open access.
Concerning numbers: I am not sure where the estimate cost of $28,000 a year came from but I believe this number could be drastically reduced with the introduction of a mesh network. A mesh network is also known as a community network and is very similar in structure to a Coop. There are a bunch of wireless routers (members) which all simultaneously connect to each other (shifts) in order to cooperatively distribute data (food) between devices (food suppliers) and the Internet itself (the Coop community).
Finally, I would like to clarify that in my original letter I was by no means implying that members carry out personal or professional work on Coop time. What I was inquiring about was access. This could mean ability to get a ride share, quickly respond to a message, get directions to another location, download a recipe, the list goes on. This is not exclusively a work issue or a member issue, this is an accessibility issue. The Coop, being a community, should consider all options when it comes to Wi-Fi because why not?