That June, for the first time ever, people from community wireless networks across the country (and even from Canada!) met in Portland to talk about what we were up to. Organizers from Seattle, New York, British Columbia, Portland, the San Francisco Bay area, and Sebastopol were there. We had a very productive couple of days, covering divergent topics such as antenna design, network layout, the FCC, and "catch and release" captive portals. There was a tremendous energy and goodwill between the groups, as we all realized we were in this experiment together (admittedly, the beer probably helped a bit, too).
I think Portland was very reassuring for all of us, because it brought together people from all over the globe who shared a common vision: unlimited free bandwidth everywhere. We had developed these ideas independently, and while some of the details of how we were attempting this feat diverged, the ultimate intent was the same. The era of wireless community network access had arrived: hardware, software, and network backbone were all becoming cheap and ubiquitous enough to make it happen. All of our groups wanted to strengthen our local communities by bringing network access to anyone who cared to be a part of it. And by working together, sharing what we'd learned, giving away software, and pooling our collective efforts, we found that we could reach this goal faster than by trying to work out a solution on our own.