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Net neutrality: What you can do to help stop its repeal | Guest View


December 11, 2017

To my community of elders, children, educators, information professionals, business and community leaders:

Let me tell you a story as to why I do what I do. I am a boundary spanner of sorts. I cross official and unofficial boundaries, building community, sharing information and attempting to do so in respectful, responsible and reciprocal ways.

I educate and lead from where I am, and I help to create a shared vision of what we can aspire to be.

In many ways, I am a connector of information – the flows, accesses, capacities and environments in the hopes that what I do creates a human connection of experiences we can share.

Over the last few days, I have the pleasure, honor and privilege of being one of the conveners of the Critical Pedagogy Summit. I value people and processes that allow me to be surrounded by very smart people.

Luckily as an educator, I have learned that there is only so much my formal education and perspectives can teach me about the world. And it is in these relationships and in the coming together and crossing borders where I learn the most and the best quality lessons.

I selfishly wanted to learn more about the concerns over net neutrality, and I wanted to create a space to come together – and that we did. I was surrounded by impressive, smart and interested folks who have been in my life and learning path to talk about net neutrality.

The room was filled with scholars, information professionals, educators and leaders who came together for the purpose of envisioning and writing. We shared, we healed, we learned, we taught and we centered around net neutrality – literally.

We spent four hours sharing stories and connecting. Those who had commitments left, but Jen Ten Bears and I stayed behind while new friends joined us to share the conversations of the morning with folks who crossed our path.

That evening, Jeanette Bushnell, semiretired researcher, game developer and educator, compiled a written statement to share with folks broadly and also specifically with participants joining the second half of the Critical Pedagogy Summit – for a day of connecting, networking and sharing and holding space for people.

While there are plenty of reasons that keep us united, I would say there are also plenty of reasons that divide us.

One of the things that came up in the room on Friday was “Why Net Neutrality?,” when there are other concerns – such as tax and health-care reform.

(Net neutrality is the principle that prohibits internet service providers like Comcast and Verizon from intentionally blocking, slowing down or charging money for specific websites and online content. The FCC, under Chairman Ajit Pai, a Donald Trump appointee, has plans to scrap net neutrality.)

There was a sense of frustration. Bushnell reminded us that there are rooms like ours with “experts” and invested folks who are working on the other issues, and our job is to trust the experts to decipher, communicate and provide actionable items we can tackle.

Our job was to be the experts in the room centering around net neutrality to do the same.

Below I will share the statement we developed, but first I want to tell you a story about why I care. I have taught in Title 1 schools, to students whose parents cannot afford basic necessities, and therefore are on free or reduced lunch. Throughout my life, as a young single mother and as an older single mother, I have been on WIC, food stamps and other assistance myself; I know what it feels like to not be able to afford food that will nourish my body, or services that others have and that I would like to be able to provide.

When I was applying to the doctorate program at the University of Washington, I had to make a decision between cable and Wi-Fi – and for eight months I was not able to afford either. I completed my PhD applications and job applications while any one of the conditions were true – sitting in my balcony hoping there was a free Wi-FI signal available.

Or driving to the nearby McDonald’s or Starbucks after the library had closed to borrow their Wi-FI because I needed to get information to others or receive information. I was not able to afford certain things because I needed to be able to afford others, and resources were scarce.

I care about net neutrality because our future generations should not have to choose between affording food or quality, community-sourced information coming from newspapers like the Edmonds Beacon, as well as online news sites.

I want the elderly, those experiencing homelessness, our educators, those who need support, and have information to share to be able to share information freely. This is why libraries are so important to our democracy.

They have values and ethics that are made visible and they aspire towards serving all, removing barriers and questioning and challenging processes, as all good leaders do.

What you can do

Do you oppose the repeal of net neutrality? Call the FCC at 202-418-1000. Leave a message saying you oppose the repeal of net neutrality.

Go to (the shortcut John Oliver made, which takes you to the hard-to-find FCC comment page). Click on “express,” Fill out the basic info, just like signing a petition, and comment that you want to keep net neutrality as it is.

Click to submit, done.

Note: you need to hit the enter/return button once you enter your name on the keyboard or touch screen. Otherwise, you will get a submission error.

Pass it along! You’re literally filing a comment in the FCC proceeding – that is direct impact!

Ivette Bayo Urban is a PhD candidate at the University of Washington’s iSchool, part of FemTechNet, does a whole bunch of cool stuff like recently being one of the conveners for the Critical Pedagogy Summit and facilitating a session at the inaugural LSC Step Up event. In her research she’s had the opportunity to interview many people for whom digital access and literacy is not a simple matter.


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