ellohay! West Michigan

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.

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A Conversation with the Macatawa Media Center

Posted in benchmarks, conversations, players, research, sustainability by forgr on December 13, 2008

I hadn’t forgotten about my conversation with Barb Pyle from the Macatawa Media Center, honestly. I met with her back in early May in their office on E 19th Street in Holland. We discussed their current computer refurbishing program, their television and production programs, and outreach programs.

Barb was very interested in what we are starting here in the Grand Rapids area, and wanted to know how we planned on cultivating and maintaining a genuinely sustainable “business”.

If by sustainable, she’s asking if we might have the capacity to preserve a complex set of programs (earn-a-laptop, digital literacy, technical support) indefinitely, then we’re on the right path.

If being sustainable means promoting stable and healthy communities, restoring environmental quality, and increasing long-term profitability, then yes we’re pointed in the right direction.

We have a lot of planning to do, but if we at least if know what we want and what’s important to us, that brings us closer to determining how we plan on getting it, and knowing once we have it.

Thank you Barb.

OpenSolaris and Dismantling The Digital Divide For People With Disabilities

Posted in accessibility, education, programs, research, software by forgr on December 12, 2008

A recent post from Sun Federal (creators of OpenOffice, Solaris and OpenSolaris) on the digital exclusion of individuals with disabilities, information on Section 508 and a crazy statistic about unemployment.

The digital divide does not stop at mere access to IT and online information though; it is also about being able to afford access. Over 70% of blind and low vision citizens in the United States are unemployed. People with other severe disabilities have similar employment statistics. Assistive technology software costs as much as $1,095 for a screen reader that enables blind people to use their computers, which means that access to computing is out of reach for the majority of Americans with disabilities.

Read the full article here.

Brush up on Solaris, OpenSolaris, Xeon and Intel’s work with me:

Solaris

OpenSolaris

Intel’s Xeon

Section 508

GNOME Screencasts

Jaws Screen Reader

Next post: Project updates

UK study says digital inclusion makes people more confident

Posted in data, education, good news, membership benefits, research by forgr on October 10, 2008

Google Reader brought great news to me this morning in the form of an article from 24dash.com titled “New research links digital inclusion and social impact”. Yes, you read it correctly. An excerpt,

More than 12,000 people took part in the social impact demonstrator projects between January 2007 and March 2008. By the end of the project, participants were more likely to feel confident, and 40% had progressed into further training, employment, information, advice and guidance.

Working with the computers helped to improve people’s maths and English, and they were more likely to spend time with friends and family, and more likely to connect with and help out in their communities.

Published by Hannah Wooderson for 24dash.com in Communities, Wednesday 8th October 2008 – 3:38pm.

So in other words, this is really good news. It proves what I’ve been (just) insisting over the last 10 months. And yes, it’s just the beginning, I’m sure there will be ongoing studies to discover the long term impact, and more studies that out-right contradict it. However this is one more juicy juicy morsel that will help convince future partners, collaborators and potential funders that what we’re doing is good for our community.

Keep it coming, we need all the proof we can get.

A Conversation with Dan Balfour

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting with Dan Balfour, professor in the School of Public and Nonprofit Administration and a faculty fellow of the Honors College at Grand Valley State University.

We discussed the organization, the program offering and our plan to run a pilot program in a GR public school classroom. We also talked about grant seeking classes offered at the SPNA at GVSU and how volunteer work is required in the curriculum at the SNPA (think “grant-writing”, or “research-assistance” for this project… yeah).

Biggest moment of the conversation:

Marie-Claire: “So, if there was one thing that would be a grave mistake if I didn’t do during this process, if there was one piece of advice you might give to me, what would that be?”

Dan: “Don’t stop”

Thank you so for your time, advice, and resources Dan. It was great meeting you, and I hope to talk to you again soon.

A Conversation with Andy Wolber

Last week I had the pleasure of talking with Andy Wolber from NPower Michigan. Andy is the Executive Director of NPower Michigan. Their mission:

We provide technology services to nonprofits in Michigan, ensuring that all organizations have access to the best technology resources and know-how and can apply these tools to help create healthy, vibrant, thriving communities

We talked for about 45 minutes. High level notes:

• Team up with Macatawa Media Center in Holland, they have a earn-a-laptop program (CARE) and would definitely be a good source of information

• Check out One Economy (I did, very interesting indeed)

• Make the Community Media Center in Grand Rapids a fiduciary parent

• Take a cue from the United Way, they work with many non-profit organizations, they are a good model

• Call NuSoft Solutions, they should be interested in teaming up in some way

• Engage college students with the project

• Work with job skill training centers

He was a great source of knowledge, and has been a very generous individual. He’s also emailed be several reports, introduced me to Barb Pyle at Macatawa Media Center, and has been kind enough to allow me to write about him here in our blog.

Thank you for your contacts, advice and contributions Andy. I hope to talk to you again soon.