ellohay! West Michigan

Printed information, established workshop vs. pilot program

Established workshop printed information for volunteers, clients and inter-organization use:

Introductory information for clients:
• basic introductory information, testimonials
• application

Introductory and support information for staff and lead-volunteers:
• About the program
• About the workshop
• Opportunities for involvement (volunteer task options)
• Clean and installation checklist (software)
• Condition status/checklist (hardware)
• Feedback forms
• Thank you postcards
• Time-sheets, check in, check out
• Task lists (daily and event workshop duties)

In a folder to new clients:
• FAQ sheet
• Free wifi location map
• Available volunteer tasks list
• Volunteer skills check off, to be returned to workshop
• Recommend this project to a friend card
• Check off sheet (for clients to track their progress in the program)
• Feedback sheet
• Login and password keeper list
• Spiral bound notebook, for notes and reference
• Class list, calendar, registration sheet
• Community event announcement calendar

Other resource’s printed materials for clients:
• Bus schedule
• City event calendar
• City map
• Form to apply for the discounted municipal wiMax access (from Community Media Center)

Pilot program printed information for volunteers, clients and inter-organization use:

Introductory information for clients:
• basic introductory information, testimonials
• application

Introductory and support information for staff and lead-volunteers:
• About the program
• Opportunities for involvement (volunteer task options)
• Clean and installation checklist (software)
• Condition status/checklist (hardware)
• Feedback forms

In a folder to new clients:
• FAQ sheet
• Free wifi location map
• Feedback sheet
• Login and password keeper list

What else would be needed here? This is just the printed information, what could be digital?

A Conversation with Lynell Shooks

Posted in conversations, donations, hardware resources, meetings, partners, planning, players by forgr on March 9, 2008

So, last week I talked with Lynell Shooks from Comprenew Environmental in Grand Rapids, MI. Comprenew is the leading recycling and upcycling entity in the region. They’re mission is much different than ours, but still involves computers and assistance to the community.

“Last year, Comprenew Environmental kept approximately 1.5 million pounds of electronics out of landfills.”

“The mission of Comprenew Environmental is to inspire the local community to live and work in a sustainable manner. This mission is accomplished through the mentoring of community partners and inner-city youth who, along with committed staff and volunteers, provide corporations and the community with electronics recycling services that represent the best possible practice.”

I left a message but didn’t get a call back for about two weeks, I called back this week to see if I could catch her at a different time of day. Got her on the phone…

I took cruddy notes while talking with her:

General Information:
Offer discounted electronics at the store
Laptops for $380-400
Offer support
Two week warranty, No long term warranty provided
Geared towards regular users, but work with lower income
Build computers
Non-profits get discounts
(Gave Degagé Ministries monitors for $10 each)
(Sold to Schools for labs all over the county)
Machine comes with software and an OS, keep the OS with the machine
They make recommendations to their clients for upgrading their OS

Comprenew Academy:
Teaching sustainability practices
Offers agencies and non-profit sustainability education as well
Hope Network, retaining, and financial, taking apart computers, factory work
AARP, job retraining factory
Internships and volunteers at the center constantly

Computers 101?
Community, not really involved yet

Repair services, cheaper than Best Buy
Support offered at the facility

I asked if Comprenew would be interested in contributing to the conversation, Lynell was interested in contributing AND partnering in some way. She mentioned that we could call her anytime and that this sort of initiative is much needed in the community. I gave her my email, phone number, and the blog url too.

Check out the Comprenew website here.

recycle@comprenew.org
616.451.4400
629 Ionia Avenue SW
Grand Rapids, Michigan 49503
U.S.A.

Potential Problems

Posted in discovery stages, planning, potential problems, support by forgr on March 5, 2008

Some potential problems with our program’s assets:

Computer breaks
Computer is lost, stolen or sold
Can’t volunteer or contribute for various reasons
Abuse or inappropriate behavior
Software/OS problems
Power cables non functional, lost, stolen, sold
Damage to machine
Lost data

So what can we do? What do we need to do?:

Offer support
Have basic insurance available to purchase?
Require police report
Require signing of appropriate usage agreement
Get a lawyer or two
Use open source OS and software
Make accessories a la carte (?)
Impress upon clients the importance of the tool, make the program theirs
Make sure that clients know the possibility of lost data

What else Devil’s Advocates? Bring it on.

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

Duplication of efforts, thoughts

Posted in discovery stages, organization, partners, planning, support by forgr on February 24, 2008

So John mentioned that he told his girlfriend Cynthia about this idea, and her question (which is one that I have been mulling over for weeks now) was, “are there already other programs like this in this area?” It’s most likely easier to join another organization than to start one from scratch, right? Yes. I would love if there was another program in place.

So far I have run into one program in that is similar, as far as discount technology providers, and one program that provides technology education for the community. What would be optimal is to use both of their facilities in the education, and device chain.

Tech support is something that is rare to come by for free. Some there are services that will drive out to your home in branded cars, like Best Buy’s “Geek Squad” but those are quite expensive. There’s the local computer sales and service centers, also expensive, and you have to drop off your computer for possibly days at a time. then there’s the kid next door, your son-in-law or the guy you went to college with that was always good with computers… but it’s always awkward to cold call him five years later.

The next question that’s been coming up in my mind is “are there programs that exist in other cities that could be duplicated here?” Is there a Philadelphia Laptop Project, a San Francisco Laptop Project, or a NYC laptop project?

I’m working on answering those questions soon.