Firestorm Cafe & Books, downtown Asheville's cooperative community event space, today launched a 60-day online fundraiser to support its free internet access services.
Since opening their doors in May of 2008, the Firestorm Collective has provided free computer access to visitors, including students, downtown workers, tourists and the homeless. Using donated hardware, open source software, volunteer labor and an internet connection from the local nonprofit Mountain Area Information Network (MAIN), Firestorm's grassroots effort has aimed to confront the “digital divide,” a socio-economic gap that, according to the Commerce Department, leaves 25% of American households offline.
Members of the Firestorm Collective understand technological access as a key component of community health. According to collective member Elizabeth Mount, “From the early media-savvy of the Zapatistas to the networked popular revolts of the Arab Spring, the last two decades have shown us the potential for communities to leverage information technologies in their struggle for self-determination.”
Firestorm Cafe & Books' fundraiser will run through November 14th with the goal of raising $1,755 for three new Linux-powered computer stations. As part of the drive, Firestorm Collective members have publicly committed never to charge for computer or internet access, to use exclusively open source software and never to resell hardware purchased with fundraiser proceeds. Additionally, to thank financial contributors Firestorm is offering a series of exciting rewards, including discounts, free coffee, travel mugs, t-shirts and honorary membership in the Firestorm Book Club.
For more information or to make a donation, please visit www.firestormcafe.com/fundraiser.html. To schedule an interview with a Firestorm Collective member, please call Libertie Valance at (828) 255-8115 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.