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?

September 13, 2018 By Emma

Wi-Fi Debate: Members,

Emma Rae Norton’s original letter in the 8/2/18 Gazette
seeking Wi-Fi in the Coop said in part:

“I went to the office to ask about the possibility of Wi-Fi and I received a hard NO without explanation. I am writing here to see if anyone can offer an explanation. I would be really interested to know” The thrust of her letter was the desire to stay connected to work.

This led to Janet Gottlieb’s response in the 8/30/18 Gazette:

“I, for one, don’t think the Coop should be expected to accommodate members who visit, not to shop, but to do personal and professional business unrelated to the Coop’s functions.”

This, in turn, led to Emma Rae Norton’s rejoinder in the 9/13/18 edition, framing her stance on the issue. In response to Gottlieb, Norton observed,

“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.”

I understand how she feels. But, in a way, that’s the very point of shedding the shuffle of all work—all the time. Part of the benefit of the Coop is that we can choose to give ourselves the gift of a shift without the shaft of the shrift. [Say that ten times without fum fering.]

As I watch my granddaughter’s attachment to her iPhone, I see a kind of compulsion. In my own business, people are enslaved to their
devices. The tyranny of intrusion into every part of one’s waking life is exactly that.

One of the reasons for being here is not to return to the ‘70s but to experience what it is and be a part of it now. You miss out if you’re somewhere else. The world can spare you for 2 hours and 45 minutes. It’ll be fine. There’s a whole wonderful microcosm here.

Norton’s letter closes with: “The Coop, being a community, should consider all options when it comes to Wi-Fi because why not.”

I think the reason is obvious.

September 27, 2018 By Member

Dear Members,

First I would like to thank the editors for allowing this Wi-Fi conversation to be carried out here and for publishing my letters. Thank you!

What seemingly started out a financial issue has quickly turned into a preferences and politics issue. Can we bring it back to the numbers for a moment? It would be awesome to see a detailed estimate of costs.

Here are some things that people might benefit from with a Wi-Fi connection: ability to transfer money to a bank account, ability to check in on a babysitter, a school, an elderly parent, ability to see email from work or friends or family, ability to request a ride-share. These are all things that many people depend on day in and day out. I believe that the Coop and its members should support fostering a shared space in which all needs are at least considered.

I would like to re-clarify that I am not interested in Wi-Fi so that I can be glued to my phone during my shift. I am not some sort of technology evangelist who wants robots to take over the cash registers and for everyone to always have their headphones in. I am not even interested in being able to check my twitter feed while waiting on line. With that said, I think that the responses so far to the issue of Wi-Fi completely negate the factors of choice and need.

The key word in Rodger's letter from 9/27/18 is choose. Many times throughout my day I choose to disconnect from technology. In many situations, I often choose to be present and experience, as Rodger put it, "being a part of now". I like to do this during my shift and feel lucky that I have been able to make the choice to buy food here.

I do not get to choose to disconnect at the Coop because there is no connection to disconnect from. The "tyranny" and "enslavement" that Rodger writes of, in my opinion, are overly extreme perspectives on technology. To assert what the world can and cannot spare me and that "it'll be fine" is to assume too much!

If the Rodgers and Janets of the Coop would like to stay off the Internet while at the Coop then they should free to do so. If other members would like to connect then I strongly believe they should also be able to make a choice to do so.

It would be great to hear more perspectives on this issue.

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