Original illustration by Gustavo Nascimento. Creative Commons BY-NC-SA.

When certain government or market actions and services were unable to meet the pressing needs of a pandemic and lock downs that, as a result, spiraled out of control, community networks (CNs) demonstrated that they were more than techno solutions to communication. Every location of these community-rooted autonomous sites of communication and knowledge became its own power house of resistance against the risks and inequalities that the pandemic has exacerbated.

In these times when most governments scrambled and stumbled to take life-saving, effective and empathetic steps towards providing reliable and immediate health and education services while in complete shut down, communities stepped in to care for themselves and their neighbours. The spectrum of CNs activities covered a wide range of life-saving and dignifying actions and services through providing communication, health information, facilitating telemedicine applications, setting up education services, expanding internet access and reach, to preventing and tending to online and offline gender based violence.

CNs proved that an infrastructure is only as robust as the more caring of its communal nodes.

In this second year of living in times of unequal global health crisis, we are glad to present this special edition of GenderIT.org: Infrastructures of resistance: Community networks hacking the global crisis and to share with our readers how intersectional approaches in CNs have been transforming these realities by embodying infrastructures of resistance and bringing hope to their communities.

You’ll find in this edition stories of hope, beauty, education, and diverse community strategies that support people on the ground to overcome local challenges and keeping humanity connected.

Editorial team: Adriana Labardini – Guest editor / Gustavo Nacimento – Illustrator / Lynne Stuart – Proofreading / Cynthia El Khoury – Gender and women’s engagement coordinator, APC Local Access Networks project / Debora Prado – APC Community networks project communications associate / Mariana Fossatti – GenderIT editor, APC Women's Rights Programme.

Include at FPI

Include at FPI
4 people hold each other forming a table with their bodies


Infrastructures of resistance: Community networks hacking the global crisis

In times of crisis, community networks proved that an infrastructure is only as robust as the more caring of its communal nodes. We are glad to present the special edition: Infrastructures of resistance: Community networks hacking the global crisis. Read the editorial article, by Adriana Labardini.

a group of women sharing knowledge on how to connect a router

Sharing human and internet bandwidth of a community network in the middle of a pandemic

In Vale do Ribeira, São Paulo, Brazil, a group of ecological, quilombola farmer women, in partnership with two feminist organisations: APC and Sempreviva Organização Feminista (SOF), managed to deploy and operate their Wi-Fi mesh network. Bruna Zanolli highlights the importance of building trust, empathy and feminist guidelines in the community so that their internet infrastructure could contribute to creating resilience and not only access to communications and information to the quilombola families.

The Tower

Marcela Guerra shakes us through her tarot card “The Tower”, raising awareness of the urgent need for a fresh start, for human-centred societies and infrastructures, or perish as Mother Nature agonises, and inequalities are exacerbated.

group of children around a laptop in a classroom

Community networks: states, solutions and communities

Upasana Bhattacharjee further builds on this notion of community network not only as a local connectivity infrastructure serving the unserved people and rural areas left out by markets or states, but mainly as a social actor that builds knowledge, autonomy and agency at the local level, through a community-owned infrastructure and organized operation.

6 women in a video call sharing grief and relief

Connectivity hacking the pandemic, enabling digital inclusion and unlocking treasure in rural areas

Miami Chirilele writes about how Murambinda Works, a community network in North Buhera, Zimbabwe, has been able to connect 108,000 people, and is hacking the crisis bottom-up.

peopole connected in a community internet center, women are collaborating with each other

Community networks as infrastructures of resistance: Re-centring the needs of women and communities in technology-making and connectivity

This article situates the role of community networks that strive to deliver on technology’s promise of greater gender equality, making the case for recentring the needs of women and communities in technology-making and connectivity, as infrastructures of resistance in times of crisis.

members of rural community installing a fiber internet wire

Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN)

Kira Allmann’s podcast will transport you to the rural north of the United Kingdom to invite you witness one of the Broadband for the Rural North (B4RN) community network assembly meetings, where knowledge is shared, and empathy transpires.