Christopher Reflects on His Time at Next Century Cities

I have stepped down from my role as Policy Advisor at Next Century Cities, an organization that I helped to found and one that I believe is very important to ensuring everyone can use fast, affordable, and reliable Internet access. Nothing is changing for me at the Institute for Local Self-Reliance — I just wanted to reflect on how wonderful my experience was at Next Century Cities.

Next Century Cities members are incredibly innovative and at the forefront of efforts to expand this amazing human enterprise — the Internet — to everyone on terms that make it truly available to them. I am honored to have helped highlight their efforts and share the lessons they have learned to others that have iterated on the models and practices.

Working alongside Deb Socia in establishing and nurturing Next Century Cities has been a highlight of my career. The people I worked with at Next Century Cities taught me important lessons and I treasure all the time we spent advancing the interests of our innovative members. I cannot count the times I reflect on what I learned from Deb, who models intelligence, balance, grace under fire, grit, wit, and loyalty.

Almost all of the work I get credit for is a product of teamwork, informed by people I respect and trust. But I want to single out Cat Blake, who is also leaving Next Century Cities, as one of the most remarkable people with whom I have worked. I recently received a text from someone saying they often forget how young Cat is due to her impressive command and confidence on the issues tackled. I had just sent a note to someone making the same point. Cat came to us the same way her predecessor did — Kate Watson Jordan (now at Internet Society) — from Christopher Ali's tutelage at the University of Virginia (quite the pipeline). I was dubious about putting her on stage at one of our events, but she nailed it and I started to realize I was seriously underestimating her capacity. Then she created the Becoming Broadband Ready Toolkit and I started to wonder what she couldn't do — I haven't seen a limit yet. It was a pleasure working with you, Cat.

Though I am no longer with Next Century Cities, I am fully committed to its mission and I am rooting for it to flourish. I hope anyone that cares about these issues will help support Next Century Cities continue to find its way — we need it to be strong and vibrant alongside us. I frequently told Francella that I believed she could be the person to move Next Century Cities to its next incarnation. The Opportunities for Bipartisan Tech Policy Conference is a strong sign of hope.

I leave Next Century Cities with so many positive emotions, tempered by regret that I wasn't able to do more while in that position. I am grateful for those who trusted me to play such a strong role in it. I remain very focused on local solutions, especially on allowing communities to decide which of the many promising available models best fits with their assets, culture, and goals. Let's keep our eyes on the prize — democratizing technology to ensure health equity, educational opportunities, economically secure families, and the kind of society we all want to live in.