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.

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