ellohay! West Michigan

ellohay! west michigan video update, episode 1

The first rough-n-tumble installment of our video update for ellohay! west michigan. ellohay! west michigan is dedicated to making positive differences in the lives of under-served individuals within the West Michigan area through healthy, sustainable, meaningful, connections with technology.

http://www.twitter.com/ellohay

It’s so much, but the thing is… it feels right.

Posted in organization, physical presence, pilot, planning, programs, strategy, volunteers by forgr on March 8, 2009

As it turns out, the more work that I do behind the scenes, the less time I have to share cool stuff with the outside.

I always wanted to make sure that if I was involved with an organization, it would be a priority to keep things as transparent and honest as possible. And it’s not that I’m not being honest, I just can’t do everything that needs to get done all by myself.

Right now, I’m learning so much new stuff, and all at the same time to boot:

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Nonprofit administration
Building a board of directors
Fundraising
Mission-based for-profit ventures
Building a budget
Incorporation
The details of becoming a tax exempt nonprofit organization
Special needs education methods
Grant writing

Familiarizing myself with Ubuntu, Open Office, Picassa
Donor management systems
Commercial real estate jargon

And easily 100 other new, exciting, things.

Natasha, Tom, and I have been meeting weekly to get programs fleshed out, and get a plan for the months ahead hashed out, visiting potential workshop spaces.

I have my Friday afternoons (my new dedicated ellohay! West Michigan time) jam jacked with meetings, visits, tours and conversations.

It’s so much, and it’s everywhere, but the thing is, it feels right.

OpenSolaris and Dismantling The Digital Divide For People With Disabilities

Posted in accessibility, education, programs, research, software by forgr on December 12, 2008

A recent post from Sun Federal (creators of OpenOffice, Solaris and OpenSolaris) on the digital exclusion of individuals with disabilities, information on Section 508 and a crazy statistic about unemployment.

The digital divide does not stop at mere access to IT and online information though; it is also about being able to afford access. Over 70% of blind and low vision citizens in the United States are unemployed. People with other severe disabilities have similar employment statistics. Assistive technology software costs as much as $1,095 for a screen reader that enables blind people to use their computers, which means that access to computing is out of reach for the majority of Americans with disabilities.

Read the full article here.

Brush up on Solaris, OpenSolaris, Xeon and Intel’s work with me:

Solaris

OpenSolaris

Intel’s Xeon

Section 508

GNOME Screencasts

Jaws Screen Reader

Next post: Project updates

Article: Was EarthLink’s failed citywide Wi-Fi a blessing in disguise?

Posted in benchmarks, potential problems, wifi by forgr on September 7, 2008

A recent article from Tirana Magazine on Philadelphia’s wi-fi network, the Wireless Philadelphia organization and doing a really solid job on…

Defining the digital divide

There’s been a lot of chatter over the years about the digital divide or the idea that there is a great chasm between people who have access to technology such as computers and the Internet, and those who do not. While some 68 percent of the U.S. population has access to the Internet via broadband or dial-up connections, there are still millions of people across the country who do not have any access at all.

Overwhelmingly, these unconnected individuals tend to be minorities and people with low education levels. A recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project found that only 57 percent of African Americans and 37 percent of Hispanics have Internet access. And only 29 percent of people who have not graduated from high school are connected to the Internet.

It’s difficult to gauge what the impact of this exclusion means. In the past, Internet access was viewed as an unnecessary luxury, a tool used to send e-mail and casually surf Web sites. But increasingly, the Internet has become an important tool for getting information about and access to just about everything from health care to social services. It’s used as a tool to engage parents in their children’s education. And as newspapers shed their classified listings, it’s become an important tool for looking for jobs.

“Digital inclusion has traditionally been seen as a charity initiative,” The Knight Foundation’s Perry said. “But that is rapidly changing. Increasingly, cities of all types–urban, suburban, and rural–are linking universal digital access to economic development imperatives.”

From the beginning, Wireless Philadelphia’s goal has been to provide broadband service to families who have never owned a computer and have little or no online experience. The group believes that getting these families online will increase their access to educational, employment, and life opportunities.

But it will also have big benefits for the city, such as reducing crime and unemployment, improving public health and social service efficiency, and increasing educational excellence.

“It’s nearly impossible to apply for an entry-level job today without having basic digital skills and Internet access,” Greg Goldman, CEO of Wireless Philadelphia said. “And there have been studies that show patients who access information online about HIV AIDS, hypertension, or diabetes have better health outcomes.”

We’ll find out what happens next quite soon…

What motivating factors would make a tech support person want to volunteer his services in his free time?

Posted in strategy, tech support, volunteers by forgr on September 1, 2008

A month ago, I asked, “What motivating factors would make a tech support person want to volunteer his services in his free time?”

Highlights from the community’s answers,

Renato Simoes Batista, System Analyst at Accenture writes:

Many reasons are possible, for example:
– Opportunity to learn or to be in contact with new technologies;
– Build a network connection;
– Feeling of social responsibility about helping others;
– Recognition of his work (in some level. e.g.: Publication of his name in the organization website, as a volunteer)

In the bottom line, the person needs to feel that it would be good for him to volunteer.
For example, the PMI’s Chapters have a lot of volunteers that just want to develop project management skills.

Hope this helps.

Cheers.

Thierry Charles, Finance Manager (NGOs)

Hi Marie Claire,

I have been having several experiences with tech volunteering in my NGOs, an auditor, water engineers, a cost killer consultant, a coach, bankers, a dbase programmer etc…
None of them wanted to do this for living

Basically their heart was the first motivating factor (as student they used to volunteer, or members of their family or friends do it)

They chose to help but did not want to do the usual business (answering the phone, meeting with people).

They chose to help with their skills
because it was simple efficient and with the best leverage (of their time)

Though, all missions were not a success.

Good points to have a successful experience are

– A mission with a clear begin and a clear end
– A light time table with a negociated dead end (lack of pressure)
– Large autonomy (they should be able to work home)
– Higher rate of success if they work on new projects
– One and only one correspondant within the NGO (with a backup)

Care about the reward
A presentation in front of the board or honor membership were surprisingly highly rewarding.
But this should only be speaken of at the end of the mission.

They in general are pride to work for you, but they tend to be modest.
They are recognized as a specialist within your organization, which gives them confidence (it is not always the case in their normal life)
They like to choose, do not hesitate to present various missions.
The first two meetings are important, If you do not feel the guy, stop.

In France a good experience is passerelles et competences (enclosed)

They offer mission from ngos and professionnals (in activity) propose their service
The split of their mission is the following
31% marketing
28% HR
19% finance law
14% IT
19% strategy organization

hope this helps

Links:

  • http://www.passerellesetcompetences.org
  • Hey. Hi. Hello.

    Posted in breakthrough by forgr on July 20, 2008

    My name is Marie-Claire. I started writing here, back in February of this year, about people’s lives and how they are (and could be) impacted by technology (computers, access) and community.

    There were several meaningful conversations with community leaders, there were great stories, there were genuine successes.

    Then I took a break in engaging with it. I originally took a break to write independently and get the ducks in a row, but then life happened. There were health problems, there was bad timing, there were a lot of crummy things that made things complicated for me personally. Life happened.

    But now that I’m ready to give my time back to this project, I can see that IT never really stopped at all, the thoughts here never took a break, this project kept going without me pushing it. That’s how I know that it’s meaningful, and that caring about other people’s connectivity is not something that I hold by writing in a blog, it’s something that belongs to the community. I has legs, it’s bigger than I am.

    Kimberly

    Kimberly and the laptop.

    While I was writing and planning, then dealing with the unexpected, people were still being touched. I got four emails, a phone call and several personal inquiries during the time that I was away. People were not only engaged, but concerned. People were worried that the project was going to stop.

    “What’s going on with that project?” or, “What’s the next step?” and, “How is it working so far?”

    To answer your questions in front of everyone: It’s not stopping. It’s going to keep going. It’s bigger than a single person. And you can help.

    In one person’s opinion, all I’ve been is a lot of talk and little action. I’d like to change.

    Stay tuned for a new leaf, and some fresh faces.