ellohay! West Michigan

Something new, updates

Posted in discovery stages, meetings, players, projects, research, wifi by forgr on February 16, 2008

So, overall the meeting with Sally went well on Thursday.

A lot of the questions (that I openly asked in the previous post) were answered, which is great, right? It’s good to communicate… it’s good.

About WiMax in Grand Rapids:

• WiMax is powerful, she said that during the demo she was going 70mph down the highway while streaming high quality video and checking her email. Cool beans.
• it will cost money to get a receiver/antennae or a card in your computer
• It will cost money each month for the service, (there’s a reduced rate for people in need, $9.95)
• There will be free hotspots all over the city, for visitors and wanderers
• Her team started the initiative in 2004, and basically corporate restructuring and logistics have caused the time delays
• The launch date has not been announced
• There is no formal plan to announce it to the public at this time
• She’s confident that people will learn about it by word of mouth

There are key questions that still need to be answered though, right? We’ll write more about those later…

She wanted to know about the project that I (roughly) introduced to her in my initial email. I explained our fantasy project. In short, she loved it and said “there should be more people in the world like [us]”.

On one hand it was refreshing to hear that there is genuinely a need for a digital inclusion plan, and that our project would thrive. On the other hand, I was actually frightened that there wasn’t already one in place. So the city has no plan and we’re all on our own?

From what I understand there aren’t any real plans in place at the current time for digital inclusion in this city. But Mayor Heartwell wants there to be plans, I’m pretty sure she said there’s a digital inclusion/digital divide board in its infancy currently… She was vague.

She did say we could get a letter of support from the mayor for our project though. Wow.

She cited a few independent resources for buying cheap computers, but not anything like a “program” or a “process” for individuals without real means to get a real quality machine in their hands. And no large scale training, workshop or support programs.

She did offer to provide contacts, and facilitate relationships with key individuals in the community. She did. I have a long list of people to call this weekend (and leave half-baked messages in their voicemail) but I’m actually excited about it.

• Community Media Center (workshop for non profits, web consultants for nonprofits)
• Grand Rapids Foundation
• Comprenew
• Mayor’s Wireless/Digital Inclusion/Digital Divide Advisory Board?
• Parks and Recreation

We also talked to Julie last night. Julie Julie, our Julie. She likes the project idea too. She gave me some potential contacts, maybe Hank Meijer would be interested? Maybe the Progressive Women’s Alliance? She says it’s good, smart, new.

Alright, I’m going to the Red Cross Indian Village Apartment Fire Reunion in a little while, so I’m going to go try to chill out for a bit. See if I can leave some more cryptic messages in people’s voicemail boxes too.

Cheers and happy Saturday.