ellohay! West Michigan

A Conversation with Ashima Saigal

A few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of meeting with Ashima Saigal, Director of Technology at Dorothy A. Johnson Center of Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at Grand Valley State University.

I explained the project, the few programs that we have planned, the thinking behind it all. She had some really good suggestions and encouraging feedback as well.

• We should definitely get the OLPC (One Laptop per Child) Organization in on it, get them to set up a buy one get one program for the citizens of the city of Grand Rapids.

• She also expressed that we need to build in a give/get aspect to the donation process. Donors give something and they get something in return.

• She expressed that getting clients involved in their community would be wildly important. For example, 10 hours of community service with Mixed Greens gets you one laptop computer. This will help our clients realize the value of the tools we’re providing to the community.

• Open Office may not be compatible with MicroSoft word file formats, the file format that most educator’s machines, school computers or workplaces use. That may cause some annoying problems for our clients.

Also,
While I was laying out all of the elements of the program, (the lack of connectivity between the hardware and education and support and wireless connectivity) I mentioned that there were only a few resources for getting ones computer repaired, i.e. the “smart kid next door” or the “tech-saavy nephew / co-worker / acquaintance or Best Buy’s Geek Squad.

She misheard me, perhaps thinking that I had mentioned that there was an organization of smart kids that fixed people’s computers for them, smart kids next door. I clarified, adding that something like that would be really cool. She said something to the tune of, ‘that would be so cool if that existed for real’. A troop of friendly nerds that could roam the streets providing tech support for a simple trade of homebaked cookies or iced tea.

So I’ve been chewing on that, writing a new draft of the mission statement without my head up my rear, drafting program outlines, and memorandums of understanding.

I’ve got some more to write about this meeting, but nights seem to be getting shorter, so I need to stop if I’m ever going to get anything else out of my head.

Thank you for meeting with me Ashima, hope to talk with you again soon.

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Your hard-earned dollars

Posted in discovery stages, donations, feedback, fundraising, support, Uncategorized by forgr on April 28, 2008

When you make donations to nonprofit organizations, what is the straw that breaks the camel’s back? What messages, promises, stories do they communicate that makes you want to give your hard-earned dollars to nonprofit organizations? Or, do you give without being asked?

Here’s another question for you, what would make you want to give to this particular project? What would we need to accomplish, for you as a citizen, to want to contribute your hard-earned dollars?

Why do I ask? About a month ago, I posted a fundable.com link asking readers of this blog to contribute a small amount of money to help with startup costs. Nobody gave.

I’m genuinely curious why you did not contribute. I’m not asking you to contribute now, no, this is not a tactic to guilt you into that… This is just a request to know what you thought when I posted that link.

Did you visit the link and change your mind once you saw nobody else giving their money?

Do you not trust the project’s intentions, or think that it has value?

Are you not able to give money at this time?

Would you feel more confident if we were an established 501 (c3)?

Did you not trust fundable.com?

Did it just turn you off?

Is this just not a cause that you want to give money to?

Did you just not see the post and request?

Would you rather give time rather than money?

Do you make contributions to other organizations instead?

Was it because it was not tax deductible?

Was it because you wanted to give to a specific program rather than a general start up fund?

… Or was it something else?

For your reference:

Nonprofit ((501 (c3)) organizations that I personally contribute my money and time to:

My Money: Heifer International, Michigan Public Radio, Goodwill, Changing the Present
My Time: Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, The American Red Cross of Greater Grand Rapids, Blandford Nature Center/Mixed Greens, The Race for the Cure, WMEAC

Client personas and potential use cases, part two

Photo from flickr-user mstor, for use under creative commons license

Remember Kim? 35, single mother of two, works five days a week as a physical therapist’s assistant from 8 am until 2, English is her second language.

So the question was, ‘What will she do when she gets her new laptop home?’

Kim gets her laptop home and plugs in the power cord (the battery is running low). She feeds the kids dinner, puts in their favorite movie, and sits down on the couch. She picks up her computer, opens the top, and sets in on her lap. She’s never had her own laptop before so she gets a nervous flutter in her stomach when the screen lights up.

The first thing she notices is an alert that there is an open wireless network available, she clicks “OK” and sees that the signal is strong. She then clicks on the internet browser icon in the dock at the bottom of the screen.

When the screen loads, she sees the program page that reads “Welcome to the neighborhood Kim. The Digital Inclusion in Grand Rapids, MI project is happy to see you here again.” She smiles and clicks on the email icon on the page. She’s curious if she has any new mail from her class instructor. She has two new messages, one from her instructor, and another from the program director. She reads both and replies to the one from her instructor, she thanks him for answering her questions in the orientation class earlier that day.

When she goes back to her home page, and project welcome page, she sees that there is an event calendar on the page. It has the class schedules, community events, and hours of the workshop on it. She takes a look at what’s happening next weekend.

Her kids need to get to bed, so she closes her laptop and heads up to get them ready. After they fall asleep, she heads back downstairs to wash the dishes, puts in a load of laundry and turns the tv on. The entire time she’s going thinking about her new laptop, glancing at it when she walks back and forth bringing bowls and glasses from the living room into the kitchen. It’s still slightly foreign to her.

She sits back down again to rest and watch the weather report on tv for tomorrow, she opens up the computer again and looks at the event calendar a little more. She’s more nervous that she thought she would ever be about a piece of technology. She closes the lid and sits back on the couch. Before she goes to bed, she puts the computer on the kitchen table with the folder from the workshop next to it, she’ll read and explore more tomorrow when the kids are at the neighbor’s house.

It’s Sunday afternoon the next time she’s able to get back to her computer again. The signal is strong, the program’s page is welcoming, she has no new emails. She clicks on the icon that reads “Community Resources” as she’s curious about what’s there. There are sections of links divided into different categories, and she looks at all of them. She clicks on local weather and news. The website loads and shows her that it will be raining tomorrow afternoon, she smiles knowing that that sort of information is available whenever she wants it, not just at 10:00 or 11:00 at night when the local station reports it.

She reads more resource links and ends up sitting on the computer for almost three hours. She stretches and rubs her eyes, realizing that she’s spent that much time looking at the screen. She feels more comfortable with her computer though now, and is glad that she’s in the program.

Monday work then a school play, Tuesday work and then her youngest with a high fever. Wednesday she finally gets back to her exploration. She finds YouTube, and Flickr. She sees a website advertised on tv, and for fun, goes there to see what it offers. She experiemetnsregisters for a digital scrapbook class at the workshop. She’s feeling even more confident now.

Naming exercises continued

Posted in physical presence, planning, writing by forgr on April 10, 2008

Grand Rapids United

Technology United

Laptops United

Peregrine United

Technology Independence Initiative

Hi. Hey. Hello.

Free up

Connected

Noise

Matter

Sea Change

See Change

Nomad

Portable

Move Around

Get Around

Independence

Freedom

Free Change

Me. You. Us.

We. Us. Ours.

Center for things, inc.

We/are/one

Netter

Netr

FORgr

Piggyback

Handuptops

The Technology Workshop

artex (out techs)

Lighter

Lightr

Great Tech

River

Free Fall

HOMES

Community Connect

Socket

The Fire

Computer

Machine

Box

Laptop

Lapdog

Lapcat

Open Door

Free Key

Toolbox

Vacation, writing.

Posted in organization, pilot, planning, players, writing by forgr on April 7, 2008

I’m actually on vacation this week. I’m traveling with my husband to visit friends and family in Albany NY, Groveland and Boston MA.

As I type I am sitting quietly downstairs in our friends’ house in Albany, NY, with delicious food in my stomach, and kitties at my feet, drafting simultaneous Memorandums of Understanding for the Community Media Center, and Comprenew Environmental to begin our pilot project.

I’m acting on some advice that our friend Allison gave me last night. Allison has a masters in social work and is an employee of the United Way of New York, and is an all around stellar gal. She suggested: that I should focus on writing strong documents, write out the necessary MOU’s for the organizations I wish to partner with, and ask for some start-up money. Conversations are helpful, but probably not completely necessary to continue at this point. She thinks that perhaps conversations are keeping me from advancing at this point.

So I agree with her obviously, and am taking a break from thinking about logistics, and use cases and am shifting to MOU’s, Executive Statements, and short and sweet business plans. Then grants.

Thank you again for staying tuned, and for contributing your hard earned dollars to help make this program a success. As a reminder, you have 12 more days to contribute, tell your friends and get us to our goal of $240 to assist in printing these lovingly crafted documents for our potential partners.

I’ll get back here soon, write about Lynell, part 2 of our main use case, and some new naming thoughts soon.

Thanks and cheers,

Marie-Claire

‘Hot Spots Cool City’ page solicits “Walled Garden” link suggestions

Posted in bookmarks, links for community, portal by forgr on April 3, 2008

Every once and a while I head over to the City of Grand Rapids ‘Hot Spots Cool City’ page to see if any new news has been posted. I just noticed that there’s a “Walled Garden” link suggestion field added to the page.

Hot Spots Cool City banner

I wonder what kind of plans they have over there… interesting.