The story of Riseup dot net

Dear Riseup Users:

Here’s the story of how we got to be the Riseup that we are. Please donate if you can!

Once upon a time, way back at the end of 1999 when the internet was still young and the millennium loomed, a couple of geeks got fired up at the WTO protests in Seattle. After a week of teargas, jail, cardboard butterfly wings, and way too much chanting, they sat in their living room and talked about what the movement needed for the next decade. They came up with Riseup.net as an independent provider of lists and email. They created Riseup on a couple of servers in their house, and soon attracted a couple more geeks to the cause.

Every year Riseup grew and grew, and it became more of a headache in that way where it was more work and had more people relying upon it. Some people came and went from the collective, and there were some hard, lean years where it was unclear if this was the right thing to pour time and money into, but stubbornly, Riseup kept going.

People’s skills increased around providing stable and secure services. More people joined the collective, and they were activist gold: the kind of people who worked hard on all the irritating day-to-day minutiae, the kind who showed up for meetings and cared deeply about this quixotic project, and the kind of people who stay up all night at crisis moments to wield their mighty hacker skills that looked like magic to those of us in the collective (like me) who are writers not geeks.

So somewhere around 2007, the collective became stable member-wise, and we became a group of about ten people who are mostly the same people we have today. Over the last eight years we have become a true collective in a rare way. We’ve worked together on Riseup for a long time, and slowly, that has become a big deal in most of our lives. We celebrate — those of us who live near each other — our celebrations together and care about each other in a true and real way. One of the greatest secret successes of Riseup was when Gadfly and Arara met at one of our retreats and fell in love. We have at times been annoyed, in conflict, and angry with each other (since we are humans not robots), and this has even led to some people leaving the collective, but overall we’ve been surprisingly stable as all but one of us has transitioned from being fiery, dreamy, young radicals into cranky, dreamy middle-aged radicals.

And also, sometime during the last eight years, Riseup has become a force to be reckoned with. We are the largest nonprofit email provider in the world, outside of a university system. We run one of the world’s most used TOR nodes. We are frequently cited and sourced as one of the few ethical, autonomous, and secure internet providers. We legally duked it out with the far right over not turning over our user’s information and won. We use and develop cool-ass secure software. We scheme with other tech collectives across the globe on what we are going to do about all this spying and how we can carry this work on into the next decade. We have big hearts and minds, and we plan to win.

So, that’s us. Or one of the stories about us. Support us if you can! Love, The Riseup Birds

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