ellohay! West Michigan

ellohay! west michigan video update, episode 1

The first rough-n-tumble installment of our video update for ellohay! west michigan. ellohay! west michigan is dedicated to making positive differences in the lives of under-served individuals within the West Michigan area through healthy, sustainable, meaningful, connections with technology.

http://www.twitter.com/ellohay

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It’s so much, but the thing is… it feels right.

Posted in organization, physical presence, pilot, planning, programs, strategy, volunteers by forgr on March 8, 2009

As it turns out, the more work that I do behind the scenes, the less time I have to share cool stuff with the outside.

I always wanted to make sure that if I was involved with an organization, it would be a priority to keep things as transparent and honest as possible. And it’s not that I’m not being honest, I just can’t do everything that needs to get done all by myself.

Right now, I’m learning so much new stuff, and all at the same time to boot:

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Nonprofit administration
Building a board of directors
Fundraising
Mission-based for-profit ventures
Building a budget
Incorporation
The details of becoming a tax exempt nonprofit organization
Special needs education methods
Grant writing

Familiarizing myself with Ubuntu, Open Office, Picassa
Donor management systems
Commercial real estate jargon

And easily 100 other new, exciting, things.

Natasha, Tom, and I have been meeting weekly to get programs fleshed out, and get a plan for the months ahead hashed out, visiting potential workshop spaces.

I have my Friday afternoons (my new dedicated ellohay! West Michigan time) jam jacked with meetings, visits, tours and conversations.

It’s so much, and it’s everywhere, but the thing is, it feels right.

Bringing it all together

Posted in earn-a-laptop, organization, planning, research, software, strategy, writing by forgr on January 4, 2009

In my professional life I keep everything organized in one place. One to do list, with subheadings, prioritized items, due dates, the works. At home I’m much less organized.

For this project, I’m organized in my head, but not on paper. I’m all over the place.

Let’s review the online tools list that I use:

For writing, I use: Twitter, WordPress.
For photos, I use: Flickr
For bookmarks, I use: Twitter, and the ‘links’ column in WordPress
For fundraising, I use: Fundable (success!), ChipIn (fail)
For Groups, I use: Google Groups (fail), LinkedIn (mixed success)
For video, I intend on using: YouTube

Now, a look at other on and offline tools for getting things done:

For newsletters, I intend of using: Constant Contact
For domain registration, I used: GoDaddy
For website hosting, I used: DreamHost
For email, I use: Gmail
For writing, I use: Microsoft Word
For Internet browsing, I use: Mozilla Firefox
For wire-framing and strategic documents, I use: OmniGraffle
For top of the head notes, with no paper on hand, I use: a little digital voice recorder

For getting ideas down on paper, literally:

Color-coded sticky notes
Black journal with graph paper pages
Graph Paper note pad
Giant sticky notes
Whatever happens to be lying around if/when I get an idea (receipts, empty spots on the back of brochures)

It’s so scattered right now. So, what I’m trying to do is figure out what works, and how I can quickly communicate things to the right people and in the right place. Blogging here works pretty well, but it doesn’t loan itself to versioning very well, and it’s difficult to write partial thoughts too.

BaseCamp or Google Docs, Google Spreadsheets may be the best option to keep all these things together.

picture-3 picture-4

I guess it’s time to just choose and get started. Aggregate, transcribe notes. Bringing it all together is going to be difficult, and take time, but I’m pretty sure I’m the only one that can understand my own notes.

On an unrelated note, we’ve got ourselves a P.O. Box, and a first draft of a budget.

ellohay! West Michigan

Posted in organization, planning by forgr on November 4, 2008

It’s been a while since anything was posted  here, and I apologize for being so inconsistent with the writing schedule. I’ll do better next time.

Highlights of what has happened since the last time I posted:

• We selected a name for the organization, ellohay! West Michigan. I’m not 100% sold on it, but it’s been tripping me up every step of the way, and it was the top contender out of the three.

• I had an important meeting a few weeks ago, but I haven’t asked permission to write about it yet, so I can’t tell anyone. I can say, however, that we might have a great place to host the 1st annual Geek-a-thon in the Spring, for free.

• A sketch of the front page of the ellohay! West Michigan website will be available to poke holes in soon.

• We purchased ellohay.org and ellohay.com.

• We have a new bank account holding our precious Fundable.com contributions.

That’s all to report for now. I have 10 drafts of posts to come. Stay tuned.

Naming, structure, goals, objectives and strategy

Posted in organization, planning, strategy, writing by forgr on May 18, 2008

I’ll be taking a break from posting about meetings and new concepts here for a bit to focus independently on naming, structure, goals, objectives and strategy.

If I get a chance to post here, I will (I greatly value your comments and strong opinions).

On another note, our Fundable drive is at 37%, if you’ve been meaning to contribute, but haven’t had a chance yet, the last day to meet our goal of $240 is exactly 7 days 1 hours 43 min. 40 sec. away. What can just $10 do for this project? Read here.

Thank you, everyone, for your support, and I’ll talk to you soon when I emerge from writing.

Marie-Claire Camp

Digital Inclusion in Grand Rapids, MI Project
(616) 446-3622
forgr.wordpress.com
groups.google.com/group/forgr

‘Laptops for Sixth Graders?’

This is a great article to come across while surfing… I’m actually glad that it was written. I need to hear this kind of stuff.

Take a minute to read an excerpt from this article written back in 2004 titled ‘Laptops for Sixth Graders?’ about a grant offered through Michigan’s Freedom to Learn initiative (FTL), which allocates $68 million for school districts to lease laptops to kids for up to four years:

Placing computers in classrooms is, of course, only the latest educational fad, designed to divert our attention from the real issue, which is what our children actually know once they leave school. Sure, technology is important and students will have to be able to work with computers to be successful in the workforces of today and tomorrow.

But computer skills can be learned without handing out personal computers. They are skills a good percentage of children already know and use on home computers by the time they are in the sixth grade. Bringing any child up to speed who has no computer at home should be a matter of selective targeting, maybe even by giving out a small number of personal computers.

But this should never be confused with measures aimed at improving student academic achievement, particularly when studies have failed to reveal any such relationship. This appears to be another program where money is being spent, simply “because we can.”

Read the entire article posted here on Apr. 6, 2004 by Jeff Steinport

Jeff Steinport is a computer network administrator for Advantage Sales & Marketing of Walker, Mich. and treasurer for the Grand Rapids Board of Education. Jeff is also a member of the Grand Rapids Downtown Development Authority board.


Alright, so the challenge is to do what? Make sure that when we design this project, that it’s genuinely good, advantageous to be involved with, different. It shouldn’t stink up the place with poor planning, ill informed recommendations, or inappropriate goals.

The frustration is palpable in this article. It would be a terrible thing to evoke similar sentiments in our future clients.

I’m going to speculate (this is only a guess) of the potential downfalls of this program at this time:

• Potentially, the computers were leased, not donated
• Potentially, there was no curriculum in place to integrate the computer as an effective tool
• Potentially, there was no infrastructure for tech support
• Potentially, the training sessions for teachers, students, parents were not in depth enough, or of limited use
• Potentially, there were no clear goals for the introduction of these tools into this environment
• Potentially, students weren’t using them appropriately
• Potentially, they were intrusive in the classroom

If we’re going to do this right, we need to do some serious homework. We need to know needs, desires, concerns from all parties involved. Our goal should be to make this program as seamless as possible, useful, accessible, sustainable, measurable.

Here’s another article titled “Giving Laptops to Sixth Graders Won’t Improve Their Education

Here’s an article discussing why the “State laptop program [was] erased

And last, but not least, the infamous Freedom to Learn website

What other kinds of things would make a program like ours go sour? What could we go so wrong in our plan so far, that would make you as a potential client feel as frustrated as Jeff was?