Honestly folks, I feel like I hit the lottery yesterday. One hundred and twenty seven days after Hurricane Irma hit St. John and wiped out all of our communications, I once again have internet here at News of St. John headquarters (which is a fancy way of saying my apartment) … I could not be more ecstatic! And you know what, I owe it all to a group of residents whose sole purpose these days is to reconnect the island. They’re not a big corporation or even an internet service provider. They’re simply a group of residents who decided to fix things. There’s a lot of that that’s been happening here over the past four months, and it’s pretty darn cool.
But before I get into what transpired yesterday, you may be wondering how I’ve been able to keep up with the News without internet. The short answer: it hasn’t been easy. Here’s the long answer…
In the days following Irma, I was able to post with the help of my father up in Connecticut. I would type up a story on my computer, Airdrop it to my cellphone, walk over to the “cell tower” at Ronnie’s Pizza and wait patiently for a connection before texting it to my dad. He would then post it to the newsofstjohn.com.
After I returned to St. John following Hurricane Maria, I did whatever I could to get internet. Sometimes I used the same method of writing a story on my laptop, Airdropping it to my phone and then searching for a bit of signal so I could upload it to the internet. Sometimes I would get lucky and would be able to connect to the free wifi here on island. Other days when AT&T was working well, I’d be able to tether my computer to my phone and work that way. I was very lucky in that the owner of Ardisia read about my troubles back in November and offered me the use of his amazing villa, which has satellite internet. And yesterday, I camped out over at Grande Bay and was able to use their internet.
I was sitting at the Lime Inn yesterday afternoon when I received the text that would end my communication woes. Love City Community Network was on its way over to install my nanobeam (which is a fancy little device that connects homes and businesses to the island’s new network). I literally jumped up and ran home to let them in! (True story, and thank you to Annie of the Soggy Dollar Bar for picking up my tab. )
Love City Community Network is a not-for-profit organization that’s been working since September 7 to reconnect St. John. And what they’ve accomplished since is nothing short of extraordinary. They’re the group that was responsible for setting up the first hot spot over at Ronnie’s Pizza, a spot that became a lifeline for those of us looking to connect with loved ones in the States, and all of the subsequent wifi hotspots around the island. They’ve connected numerous businesses over the past four months, so they can reopen and accept credit cards among other things. The Love City Community Network is even responsible for getting wifi out to Coral Bay. Like I said, it’s all pretty amazing.
So how are they doing all of this? Well it’s taking a lot of hard work and donations. This is where I hope some of you may be able to help.
Because the Love City Community Network is a not-for-profit, they rely solely on donations. As you all know, connectivity is huge, especially on this tiny little island in the Caribbean. It allows all of you to communicate with villa owners, car rental agencies, restaurants, shops, boat charters and your favorite blog here on island. It allows residents to work and it gives us a sense of normalcy. This network is so strong that I am able to stream television at my house, something I couldn’t do pre-storm. And as many of you may know, the island hasn’t had cable since Irma. So it’s pretty amazing to be able to watch what’s happening in the world once again.
So if you would like to help St. John continue to build its new network and help connect more businesses and residents, please consider making a monetary donation. You can do so by visiting Love City Community Network’s website at lccn.vi and click the Donate button on the right-hand side. That will bring you to a secure PayPal donation page.
If you prefer to help boost the network by purchasing much-needed equipment, you can do that too. The Love City Community Network has created an Amazon Wish List that you can view online. Items needed range in price from $9.99 – a network cable connector – to $3,000 – a radio that can link locations more than a mile apart. This radio would help them upgrade their network to Bordeaux Mountain which would then bring better connectivity to Coral Bay. Please click here to view their Amazon Wish List.
This group truly deserves so much praise. They have been able to do what our local internet companies have not. They’ve reconnected St. John and for that, I am forever grateful. So if you can, please help this group out. It will in turn help all of us.
Thanks everyone and happy Friday!