Hemp.Net began in 1995 while Robert was working on the Hemp Initiative Projects of Washington State. Through his computer programming job, Robert was blessed with an ISDN connection to his home. He saw the internet as a powerful communications tool that could link activists together more easily than ever before. Using the free, open source Linux operating system, he set up a 386/25Mhz computer named Skunk, purchased an extra modem and phone line, and started providing hemp activists free access to the internet.
Over the years, Robert was a pillar of the activist community in Seattle. He worked on everything — initiative campaigns, legal challenges, festivals and protests. Hemp.Net grew and evolved, providing internet services, technical consulting and development to progressive activists. Robert was widely considered one of the most intelligent, savvy and affable members of our tribe; many people claim he changed their lives.
In December 1995, Ben was facing expulsion from his high school for a treasonous youth rights ‘zine. The first issue’s cover contained the words “This cover printed on hemp!” and a hemp leaf, and Ben spent an afternoon arguing with his vice-principal about the benefits of hemp and constitutionally-protected free speech. After that experience, he found Hemp.Net on the web and sent email to Robert, offering what graphical skills he had to help spruce up the then-boring web site design.
Ben toiled at the Hemp.Net command prompt for nearly two years, learning unix, programming, graphics, and other computer skills. In December 1997, Robert decided to evolve into a “real” internet service provider — mostly out of financial necessity — and hired Ben. He was Hemp.Net’s first employee and holds that job still. He is a bit of a swiss army knife, knowledgable in the ways of system administration, technical support, php/mysql programming, graphic design, legalese, campaign finance and public disclosure law, and harmonica beatboxing.
Abi met Robert working on the Hemp Initiative Projects of Washington State and has worked for Hemp.Net in some capacity since then. A public health researcher by day, her work focuses on the use and usability of new technologies in furthering public health and safety. She promotes open source software and solutions, contributing energy and code to various in-house and global projects, and develops and/or maintains web sites for many progressive organizations like the Criminal Justice Reform Network.
Abi has worked on many political projects, from being a precinct committee officer in the “thundering” 36th district to serving on the board of Seattle Initiative 75. She currently serves as Hemp.Net\’s vice president and Goddess of Reason.
Hemp.Net would not be what it is without the following people:
Spud – MikeH was there that at the birth of Hemp.Net in the Fall of ’95. (Back when domain names were still free!!!) Mike fired off the domain name request, and helped setup the original 386/25Mhz PC (aka skunk) on which Hemp.Net began. In an alternate dimension, he is an organic worker drone at Muppetlabs, Inc.
Clint – The Doctor of Hemp.Net. Creater of Funky.Net. Fellow ADAK owner.
Kyd – Another Linux God now working for a big fancy internet company.
As seen at news.com: ISP at home on the fringe