But our Eden communities may have the solution. In Great Asby, one volunteer discovered there was already fibre, paid for by the taxpayer, for the school. The school let him splice off the fibre to a cabinet that he calls a \”parish pump\”. From that he ran a wireless network, with transmitters in the church tower and one, powered by solar panels, on a dead tree to reach the outlying farms. He has persuaded 70% of the village to sign up and is making enough money (as an unpaid volunteer) to upgrade the network. Local farmers have agreed to lay the fibre, at a fraction of the commercial cost. This is not a just impressive technology, it\’s astonishing community action. And it suggests a model for rural Britain. The 130 activists who drove to Great Asby are now aiming to replicate it in 100 more villages. They have established a new website – though some of them have to drive to Penrith to log on. Libby, in Kirkby Stephen, is photographing and mapping all existing telecoms cabinets. Freddy, in Morland, is exploring alternative technologies from microwave transmitters and wireless hubs, to laying fibre in sewers. Five out of six farmers around Crosby Ravensworth have offered to forego wayleave charges and help dig trenches. Kate, in Stanwix, is training people to get online. Daniel, in Alston, is piloting medical tests from homes. How far can this go?
Excellent stuff. The Big Society in action: instead of waiting for some giant coprorate or government to even note the local problems, peeps just got on with it themselves.
The government has now recognised the Eden communities as the rural \”big society\” vanguard and announced a broadband pilot, focused on Eden. We have been assigned civil servants and promised money.
Oh shit, that\’s that plan fucked then isn\’t it?