ellohay! West Michigan

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

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A few next steps, growth

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

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

1.) Finalize project name

2.) Get feedback on mission statement, problem statements, finalize mission statement

3.) Post draft of Executive Statement, get feedback

4.) Write out plans for involvement with community partners

5.) Finalize and Print out finished Executive Statement, supporting diagrams and materials

6.) Start writing grants

7.) Schedule time to meet with Comprenew to discuss pilot program

8.) Schedule time to meet with WMCAT to discuss pilot program

9.) Schedule time to meet with Community Media Center to discuss pilot program

10.) Schedule time to meet with Grand Rapids Public School representatives to discuss pilot program

11.) Schedule time to meet with other important community partners

12.) Write memorandums of understanding for potential partnerships

13.) Breathe.

14.) Determine next steps again

A Conversation with Wireless Philadelphia

Posted in benchmarks, conversations, discovery stages, meetings, organization, planning, projects, research, wifi by forgr on February 26, 2008

Conversation with Thomas Kim, Operations Manager Wireless Philadelphia
(I called Wireless Philadelphia’s office today as a concerned citizen in Grand Rapids, MI. a man named Thomas answered the phone, I later learned that it was Thomas Kim, Operations Manager of the program. Notes are below in short statements… I’ll summarize at the end)

Their project is divided into three parts, all cooperating together 1. Wireless Philadelphia, 2. City of Phily, and 3. Earthlink
Wireless Philadelphia is a non-profit runs independently, no tax dollars went into it at all
RPF sent out from Wireless Philadelphia
EarthLink was chosen
They offered to pay build out themselves, operate it and maintain it
Concessions were made, generate revenue from subscribers
Main objective, was to make sure that there was digital inclusion, help brdge that gap
Subsidized accounts were created with EarthLink, $9.95
They are currently in a holding pattern, waiting to see what happens now that Earthlink is being purchased. Sucks. Read the snappy article on Philebritiy here.

Mayor was the incorporated, Interin COO
CIO put together an executive committee
City Government was part of that committee

(Thomas mentioned that Clearwire will most likely do Advertising, municipality)
Governance of organization: Board has four appointments, Mayor, 3 by council, 2 by board, CIO serves on board by default.

Marketing, website was part of operation, was from grants to Wireless Phildelphia Digital Inclusion program:
Group: Purchase bundles, $600 internet for one year, a laptop, classes, support resources
Individuals: sign up locations to earn a laptop, support, classes

They reached out to EARN, employment resources, network, welfare to work. Incentivized benchmarks, state funded.

They reached out to OIC programs, vocational institutions community based, life skill enhancement or building, city departments, ex-offenders, senior citizens based organizations, undeserved.

Brief time line: ’05 Business Plan, RFP. Summer of ’06 CEO was put in place, Fall of ’06 started finally, contracts

Not very well communicated in the beginning stages.

Is the program successful? When had full backing of vendor, okay
Biggest pain? service is the problem now

Wireless Philadelphia has largest Wifi coverage, 75%
Huston, 600 square miles
Portland, comparable

(WiMax will have same problems, Radio Frequency changes)

Any resources that your organization can offer to other cities, a kit, a how to? Nope.

About section on the website has more information, historic documents pdfs, RFP, network agreement, defines relationship

In short
Do it, and get as many community resources involved, write a complete business plan. He said we could call anytime.

Pilot program, thoughts

I met with some chums for lunch this week to discuss a potential pilot program for the laptop project. I woke up early a few mornings ago and started writing ideas down for (potentially) getting this program started. IF this workshop/program/organization is truly needed in our community, it’s going to need to get rolling some time soon right?

I know I’m really getting ahead of myself here, and I know that I’m going to need about 10 more people to help me think about this (that are as crazy as I am) but I need to get this stuff out before I convince myself that this is all a waste of time.

So here goes.

“Geek-a-thon”

WHO?Programmers, Developers, IT people/tech support, Students, anyone who wants to learn or has anything to offer.

WHAT? Round up computers (3 each to begin with), clear them off, record problems, install Ubuntu, install Open Office, install Firefox, plug ins, mark favorites, test, and make the homepage the portal or intranet, create aliases on the desktop. Give ready laptops to people. Eat pizza, drink beer, down monsters. Brainstorm about the concept, talk about potential problems, get opinions.

WHERE? Any large space with outlets, tables, centrally located, able to have food and drinks, stay as long as we want.

WHY? Introduce the program, get computers ready, get ideas from the community, get ideas for education, bring the community together on a level playing ground, do something good for the area, get sign ups for volunteers, get feedback, get potential donors, talk about their next steps.

WHEN? Friday into Saturday? (how long does it take to do?) Overnight, during the weekend? Several dates?

HOW? List from colleges, universities, corporations, studios of possible participants. Make checklist of process. Get an organizational committee together, create website to register participants.

___________________

Other notes:

Press Release?

Play Wii and XBox games?

Music

Display ideas centrally, white boards or large sticky notes on a huge wall

Make sure everyone knows why they are doing what they are doing, get them to feel like they are participating in forming, improving, and nurturing their community.

Video taped? Photos? Audio testamonials?

Make sure everyone knows what their role is next, after the even(s) how can I help?

Get ideas for good links for audiences, (children, single moms, elderly, special needs, manufacturing employees etc.)

Portal/Intranet exploration

___________________

So, Scott thinks that before we do this, we need to legally be a non-profit, we need to have people already in line to get these machines, potentially run the program with just one area of the community (he suggests my street).

I have reservations, that’s four steps ahead. That’s too advanced for a pilot program. I want to fail fast. He suggested that I give one to my little sister, but she has a computer. What does she do with it? Play free online games, and type huge letters in Word… but she’s seven. AND that’s all she’s been taught that computers can do.

So who? Who are idea candidates? How can we support them at this stage in the game? How can it start?

I don’t have my notebook that I took notes with with me this evening, so I’ll comment later, but shoot, I’m stumped and I’m scared, but then again I was scared about the block party too…

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.