The meeting was held in Eastern Michigan University's McKenny Union and was called to order at 7:24 a.m.
Mr. Stanger distributed the minutes of the March 29, 1995 meeting. Approval of these minutes, as well as the minutes of March 22, 1995 were deferred until the next meeting.
Mr. Hayes distributed the financial report for the month ending March 31, 1995. HVCN had assets of $1,011.73. Letters were sent to 222 government officials in Washtenaw County informing them of the Washtenaw Information Networks' (WIN) Telecommunications and Information Infrastructure Assistance Program (TIIAP) grant application and asking them to write letters in support of the application. A sample support letter was included. Postage was $71.04 and the Board approved the expenditure.
Ms. Udoji reported that at a WIN meeting on April 4, 1995 it was learned that a group of Arbornet Board members, without the knowledge of the full Arbornet Board, had submitted (before the March 23, 1995 deadline) a letter of intent for Arbornet to apply for a TIIAP grant. Without disclosing its own independent letter of intent, the Arbornet Board passed a resolution supporting its partnership in WIN to apply for a TIIAP grant. The TIIAP grant guidelines stipulate that the same organization cannot apply for more than one grant. It would seem the Arbornet Board members who submitted their own letter of intent to apply for a TIIAP grant did not see that one letter of intent (Arbornet as independent) precluded the other (Arbornet as WIN partner). Arbornet Board members were asked to leave the WIN meeting, as the remaining WIN partners--GREX and HVCN--intended to discuss their grant strategy and Arbornet Board members were now viewed as competitors.
Ms. Howard will work with Marcus Watts, a GREX Board member, and Al Johnson, of Washtenaw County Information Services, to draft a network configuration that supports WIN's needs. Mr. Barr will work on creating an inventory of sites for the WIN system.
Mr. Barr reported that Washtenaw County will probably act as WIN's fiscal agent. This service can count in the grant application as an in-kind match from the County. Ms. Howard will talk again with Charles Roth about the value of his donation to WIN of the World Wide Web-based Caucus conferencing system.
Mr. Barr asked if he should ask a company called Cabletron to make a contribution to WIN. Mr. Ogden responded that it would be wonderful if Cabletron could donate a few small ethernet twisted-pair hubs that could be used as a basis to build small clusters of terminals at WIN sites. Mr. Barr said he would contact Cabletron.
Ms. Howard suggested talking to Brian Anderson, of EMU's Office of Research Development, for advice on preparing the grant, including assistance with determining the value of in-kind contributions.
Ms. Howard reminded the group that she learned at the TIIAP grant workshop that if a community network organization lists large, rich
businesses as its grant partners, the government will ask why don't the rich partners provide the resources instead of the government.
Mr. Ogden clarified that WIN is an organization of other organizations, and at this time GREX and HVCN are the two organizational members. Individuals can participate in the WIN project by being a member of GREX or HVCN or both. Mr. Ogden observed that the focus of the WIN project might be to provide a collaborative communications infrastructure to allow people to connect to resources. HVCN would focus on gathering community information and providing a certain kind of content.
Ms. Howard said that we need to put together a statement that addresses the perception that HVCN is a competitor to commercial Internet providers. We need to deal with questions such as, "If small businesses can be HVCN members, will they get free Internet accounts, home pages, and ftp server privileges?" It was suggested that we might set up guidelines such that small business contributors to HVCN could not "buy" a storefront on HVCN, but their contribution would be acknowledged on the screen and a link could be set up from the screen acknowledgment to the company's storefront on a commercial Internet provider's host. Mr. Ogden agreed that we needed to articulate a statement that explained why we don't perceive HVCN to be a competitor to commercial Internet providers.
Ms. Howard also said that HVCN membership accounts should be distinguished from HVCN free accounts in more ways than being able to vote for the Board of Directors; there should be value-added services for members. Mr. Ogden thought the Board needed to talk about differential services for varying HVCN contributions. He pointed to the public broadcasting model--contributors don't receive different programs based on the magnitude of their contributions. If you provide different services in accordance with the size of a donation, then you are moving in the direction of being a business. If an individual pays money to HVCN to "buy" services, then she can also demand a certain quality of service. Our obligation shifts from providing a community service to meeting the demands of paying "customers."; that is the position of the commercial Internet providers. Mr. Ogden sees HVCN's mission as providing a community service.
Mr. Barr raised the issue of getting a sustainable cash flow in the future. Mr. Ogden said he hoped that if the HVCN service was valuable enough and if the voluntary contributions from individuals were modest enough, then many small contributions could sustain the community service.
Mr. Ogden reported that Merit was working on developing a TIIAP access grant proposal involving radio communications in the rural area of Michigan's thumb. He said he had been asked to write letters of support for other TIIAP grant applicants, including the Library of Michigan. He said that a Merit letter of support for the WIN project could be arranged.
Ms. Howard asked anyone who came across information as to how community networks were handling relations with businesses and commercial Internet providers to share it with the group.
Mr. Ogden observed that we should not get our hopes too high about receiving TIIAP funding. We should try to insure that what we do during this period builds relationships with others that will help us provide a viable community service. He said it was important for the individual WIN partners to maintain their identities. WIN can serve as an umbrella for several organizations with different corporate styles. People have a choice as to which organization(s) to donate their time and money to so as to achieve the WIN goals of enhanced community information and communication.
The next Board meeting was scheduled for Wednesday, April 12, 1995 at 7:00 a.m. at Eastern Michigan University's McKenny Union.
The meeting was adjourned at 8:46 a.m.
Keith Stanger, Secretary