September Newsletter

This month we’re asking you to fund some specific projects for this coming year, which will be impossible without some additional money. We’re also applying for some grants to try to help with these costs, but as many of you know, funding for activist projects tends to be very limited and more and more scarce, so we don’t know if anything will come through.

First off, we want you all to know that we realize what a remarkable bunch of people you are. You’ve consistently funded our collective for ten years. Currently, we provide services for over three and a half million activists, because of your support and mutual aid. Therefore, this newsletter isn’t a “why don’t you ever give us anything” note, but a hope that some of you have something extra to give in order to make us more useful and stable.

Second, we are still the small collective who does a lot with very little, and always look to do things as cheaply and environmentally friendly as possible. For example, three years ago we received a bunch of servers from a non-profit who deemed them no longer useful. Rather than becoming e-waste, they’ve turned into our star servers, and sometime in October we’ll deploy the last of them.

Third, we’re a little different than a lot of projects in that rather than working on a specific campaign, we support the movement, be that climate justice camps, Iranian democracy-activists, democratic unions, or student-peace groups. We are passionate about building world-wide social justice infrastructure that is enduring and tough enough to face whatever the future brings. We promote social ownership and democratic control over technology and the means of communication. We empower organizations and individuals to use technology in struggles for liberation, and know that while this is only one piece to the movement, it’s an important one.

So, here’s what we’re asking for:

  1. We’ve been secretly working on the Crabgrass Project for the last three years. Well, maybe not so secretly, but we haven’t been bragging about it since it hasn’t been ready to launch.

What is Crabgrass? It’s an activist alternative to social networking. As we all know, social networking can be a powerful way to organize, however the corporate sites are funded by tracking and surveilling their users (yuck.) They collect all kinds of personal data for corporate exploitation, and have been more than willing to turn over information to governments, often above and beyond their legal requirements. Additionally, corporate social networking sites have tools you can tweak and use to organize, but they aren’t really there to help you get stuff done in effective ways.

Crabgrass is the antidote, and has accessible communication tools tailored specifically to meet the needs of organizers, be they working on massive campaigns or local, grassroots projects. Crabgrass uses open-sourced, secure, and surveillance-free protocols. We are nearing the end stages of implementation and being able to say, hey Riseup users, come use Crabgrass! However, there are about half a dozen fairly complicated programming, system administration, and hardware pieces we need to tackle before we do that. We want to ensure that when we do make it available, it is stable and useful.

What do we need to implement Crabgrass for Riseup users? Our best estimate is $12,000 USD.

  1. We need to upgrade email. Sometimes, as you may have noticed (as we have definitely noticed: count the gray hairs), Riseup email and lists go down. Or, like last year, we had to stop accepting new lists for a while because of some unforeseen but necessary upgrades. This year we know we are approaching our maximum bandwidth for email and it will reach capacity in three to four months. Our plan is to get a new email server up and working well before then, and to build in even more top of the line security and anti-surveillance protocols. With this added capacity, we’ll also need to pay for more rack space and bandwidth. When this is accomplished, we’ll have the additional capacity to support 50,000 more users.

What do we need to upgrade and improve our email system? Approximately $6,000 USD.

  1. We don’t actually need a Riseup coffee, cookie, and burrito fund, but wouldn’t it be nice? Sometimes when the Riseup birds are making midnight runs to fix an ailing computer, or hacking for twelve hours straight to combat spam, it might be sort of amazing for there to be an emergency snack fund. Because it’s bread we fight for, but we fight for roses, too.

What do we need for a little sweetness in the dark times? About $300 USD.

And here’s how you can give:

The most useful way you can donate is to give to Riseup Networks. This allows us to have the most versatility with the money.

If you’d like to make a tax-deductible donation, the best way to do that is through Riseup Labs. Labs is also the way to go if where you work provides matching grants for donations.

If you’d like to send a check or money order addressed to either Riseup Networks or Riseup Labs, mail that to:

Riseup PO Box 4282 Seattle, WA 98194 USA

And last, if you live in the Global South and happen to have a local, radical, tech collective, we ask that you give to our sister collectives instead, or some other group building local alternatives. We think money should flow from the Global North to the South, not vice versa, and haven’t your people already given enough via the plundering of colonialism and capitalism? The answer to that is yes.

One last thing

Thanks and love to you all,

The Riseup Birds