Antecedents of ChiCommons date back to 2015 with the Windsor Park Evangelical Lutheran Church’s Community Internet, and 2016 Chi Hack Night’s Shareable Chicago Map. The cooperative has a long history of interaction with Chi Hack Night and currently hosts the Chi Hack Night pre-party every Tuesday from 6:30pm-7:00pm.
ChiCommons is working on two projects, a map-directory of cooperatives and solidarity entities in the Chicago region and BlockShare, a neighborhood-based Intranet/Internet owned by the community. The map-directory is being released as a stand-alone web application, allowing users to enter information about their own cooperative or solidarity entity. BlockShare is currently being piloted in the South Shore. In addition to providing Internet Access for those who cannot afford exorbitant prices and meager service from traditional ISPs, BlockShare will provide a local community-based Intranet so that neighbors can share their produce, time, talents, tools and rides with each other.
In order to support these internal projects, ChiCommons has started a consulting agency that provides business and technology services to the Small/Medium Enterprise sector, cooperatives and solidarity entities. Worker-owners provide these services at market rates (with significant discounts to the co-op/solidarity markets), and ChiCommons takes a small margin to fund it’s operations and internal projects.