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Watch Our Documentary on Detroit’s Grassroots Internet Network

“Communication is a fundamental human right.”

“The future is already here,” author William Gibson famously observed. “It's just not very evenly distributed.”

This reality of lopsided tech access is particularly resonant in Detroit, where 40 percent of residents have no internet. Underdeveloped infrastructure and a lack of investment from telecom companies have contributed to this stark internet inequity in one of America’s most resilient cities.


The connectivity cap has motivated Detroiters like Diana Nucera, director of the nonprofit Detroit Community Technology Project, to construct their own local network. Called the Equitable Internet Initiative (EII), the collaborative effort not only brings high-speed WiFi to underserved neighborhoods, it offers education and training to people interested in joining the push to close the digital divide.

Motherboard visited Detroit to learn how this team of “digital stewards” install and operate grassroots hubs across the city, and why universal internet access is so essential to maintaining a fair economic playing field.

It’s about “justice,” said EII digital steward Gabrielle Knox. “This is the future of the internet; this is the future of the world.”

Detroiters are building this future for themselves, with a mind to more evenly distribute the cascading benefits of a connected community.

Dear Future is a partnership with CNET that will explore the people, companies, and communities that are ushering in the future we were all promised. Follow along here .