ellohay! West Michigan

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.

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Digital Inclusion in SFGTV, video

Posted in benchmarks, education by forgr on March 2, 2008

Notes:

• Important to have access to high speed internet
• Need to have knowledge to use those tools effectively
• Understand the value of a computer
• We want the digital inclusion task force to make sure that we address the needs of undeserved vulnerable communities, not communities that are already very tech saavy
• People don’t know that these computers are available to them
• They don’t know what is useful
• There are so many businesses in the area that are constantly retiring their computer equipment that’s perfectly good for home use
• Computers and internet access are helping everyone in the community
• Barriers, confusion, intimidation, not having anyone in their peer network that uses computers in their lives
• Immigrants are able to communicate with their families at home
• Able to receive news and information in their own language
• Connected with the world, and connected with their local communities
• If we value the diversity of our city, and value the diverse neighborhoods in our city, we need to insure that they remain economically viable. Equipping residents with jobs in those areas is critical to them.
• Workers with more education in this area are more likely to be working in the technology sector. They are going to need familiarity in that area, they are going to find value in it and they are going to use it and be produce with it every day.
• The other half of that population is disconnected from that opportunity and that prosperity.
• Content is essential
• We have to blend community network and computer equipment, with training and support. If we can pull all that together then we’ve got it.
• It’s more about social and economic justice than just technology

TechConnect (San Francisco)

Posted in benchmarks, education by forgr on February 29, 2008

The TechConnect Digital Inclusion initiative is a set of programs to help all San Franciscans access technology to improve their lives.

TechConnect’s Digital Inclusion programs provide ways for San Franciscans to more easily obtain a computer for their home, as well as the technology training and support needed to use it effectively. TechConnect also seeks to increase the availability of culturally relevant Internet content and applications.

From the TechConnect website:

Implementation Approach
The principles underlying the implementation of the San Francisco Digital Inclusion Program are to:

·      Engage the community in a community driven planning and implementation process.

·      Leverage existing community, governmental and business resources whenever possible.
Include measurable outcomes and indicators of success.

In less than a decade, the Internet has radically changed how people communicate, seek employment, and access services, education and entertainment. Students use the Internet for research and to create new works of all types. Businesses use the Internet to extend their service offerings, improve customer service and improve their bottom lines.  Governments at all levels find new ways to harness the Internet to improve the delivery of public services.  Nonprofits and community based organizations are using the Internet to better reach out to their constituencies and fulfill their social missions.

Enhanced Digital Literacy Programs
·      Relevant, Multi-language Internet Content and Online Services such as the promotion of multi-lingual web portals, promotion of community based web sites, content development training programs, and new collaborations across San Francisco’s communities.

Possible Strategies:
·      Implement communications programs to increase awareness of programs that collect, refurbish, distribute and sell used computers to underserved communities.

·      Develop low or no-interest computer purchase program that enables qualifying low-income residents to purchase new PCs (desktops and laptop computers) and supporting equipment (printers, Customer Premise Equipment) for a low monthly cost ($25-$60) over a 1-3 year loan term and required computer training.  The City will partner with technology vendors and financial institutions to implement this program.  The City will seek to partner with the Unified School District and local nonprofits to distribute the computers and provide training.

·      Organize technology fairs in the City’s most underserved neighborhoods where participants will be able to sign up for the computer purchase programs, vendors can provide information about purchasing computers, networking equipment and other internet devices; and refurbished computer providers will be able to collect donated equipment, provide information about or possibly even sell refurbished computers onsite.

·      Provide education and information about buying a computer and available resources for purchasing low-cost hardware on the digital inclusion program website and provide written materials at community events and technology support centers.

·      Facilitate partnerships between device and application providers (e.g.: Nokia, Skype) with nonprofits and schools to introduce new devices and applications for underserved communities.