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Yayasan Mitra Ruang Kolektif, also known as Common Room Networks Foundation (Common Room), is an open platform for art, culture, information and communication technology (ICT) and media. It was registered as a non-profit organization in 2006. Common Room has been committed to maintaining a space for freedom of expression and community empowerment that utilises arts and culture, ICTs and digital media in Indonesia.

In order to increase digital skill and knowledge among rural communities, Common Room launched the School of Community Networks Indonesia during the implementation of Rural ICT Camp 2021 in Ciptagelar village with the support of the Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and the UK’s Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office (FCDO), through the Digital Access Programme (DAP). The School of Community Networks Indonesia has developed training and community outreach activities in nine provinces in Indonesia.

Apart from active involvement in community networks development to support rural development and innovation, Common Room also supports arts and cultural activities that deal with local knowledge production and distribution, climate change adaptation and mitigation, sustainable development, as well as disaster risk reduction.

APCNews spoke to Gustaff H. Iskandar at Common Room to find out more about the organisation's priorities and why it has joined the APC member network.

Why did you decide to join the APC network?

We collaborated with APC on the Supporting Community-Based Approaches to Addressing the Digital Divide, a LocNet project, from early 2019 until mid 2024. Based on this experience, we realised that community network development and utilisation for marginalised communities require a long-term process. This also requires strong alliances in local and international contexts, as digital rights advocacy is also a global challenge that needs long-term efforts and commitment.

By becoming a member of the APC network, we hope to increase institutional capacity building and maintain our commitment to addressing digital divide challenges, in both local and international contexts. 

What do you think you can contribute as a member, and what do you expect from APC?

Over the past few years we have gained experience working in an environment that has complex and unique challenges in regards to community networks project development in Indonesia. Through the School of Community Networks programme, we gained experience in developing community-based internet infrastructure with diverse geographical and social contexts. The experience and knowledge generated from this project is important to enrich ongoing efforts in addressing digital divide challenges.

We hope to contribute this to APC in order to continue efforts to fulfil digital rights for marginalised communities in local and international contexts. As one of the oldest civil society organisations, we need to learn from APC and its members, especially to optimize and gather resources and to utilise knowledge and experience in supporting civil society movements to enable digital rights in the global South.