I'm Steve Ediger, founding member of ChiCommons LWCA (Limited Worker Cooperative Association), a worker-owned, multi-stakeholder cooperative in Chicago. Within the Chicago region (8 Illinois and Indiana counties), we are mapping the cooperative and solidarity ecosystems. WIth our BlockShare project, we are providing lower cost Internet access, and providing neighborhood-owned and operated information systems so that neighbors can share their garden produce, time, talents, tools and rides with each other and communicate about neighborhood topics of interest. To sustain ourselves, we have created a consulting agency, ChiCommons Consulting, that provides business and technical services to small/medium enterprises and the cooperative and solidarity ecosystems.
Currently, we are cash-strapped. We have some clients, but they are way behind on paying us. This has put a damper on our deployment of a BlockShare Technology Proof of Concept pilot program. This program would put us on the map within the South Shore area of Chicago and we would be able to begin developing our neighborhood sharing software. We are also beginning to feel competition from local NPOs that know what we're doing and are seeking to retain the grant dollars to which they are accustomed. Plus there is the looming spector of the 'biggies' Comcast, ATT, etc. suddenly taking interest in neighborhoods they've neglected as they see competition.
We're confident that when we get some cashflow, we'll be able to get things going. Whenever we talk to folks, they respond with, "Wow! That sounds like a great idea."
What's your sense? Do we start 'marketing' in advance of our ability to provide? So far our community meetings have failed. That's why we took the path of proving our concepts with demonstrations. We'd be interested in your feedback.