Photo by Kalabird Johanna Bates climbs a ladder to install the wireless nodes.
The Nonprofit Technology Conference hosted by NTEN sponsors the Day of Service, an opportunity for nonprofit techies to share their knowledge with the local community. The Day of Service consisted of strategy consults at the hotel in the morning, a wireless installation project at the Community Center St. Bernard, and video blogging workshop for local nonprofits led by Jay Dedman and Ryanne Hodson. The great folks at Cisco not only donated the hardware, but sent a team of their best folks to oversee the installation and lead the volunteer group.
I wasn't able to go down to the Center to observe the wireless installation and was only able to document the Techies getting on the bus. Thanks to the efforts of the volunteers who pulled out their N95 mobile camera phones and digital camera - we have some rich multi-media documentation of the day. (Special thanks to Chris Parandian, Michaela Hackner, Carol Rudisill, Kurt Voelker and Andrew Cohen of Forumone, Chris Tuttle, and others.)
Michaela Hackner got some excellent photos of the work down at the Community Center. She notes:
My group, comprised of consultants, non-profit workers, and Cisco Systems, traveled to a community center in St. Bernard Parrish to install wireless access points. St. Bernard Parrish was the hardest hit during the flood - only 6 houses were left standing out of 25,000 when the water rose 25 feet in 23 minutes.
It was an honor to be able to provide some help to this community and I'm grateful for the opportunity to talk with residents and keep the hope and momentum of positive work flowing.
Chris Parandian wrote up his reflections on his blog and used N95 to grab the video clip above.
The center was very busy and I got paired with Ruth who is a local small business owner. Ruth was not actually interested in the internet but wanted to master the functionality of her new DELL computer. Accordingly, we set up an excel spreadsheet so that she could manage her books. We also went over Microsoft Works.
With regard to policy, one point she made really made an impact on me. She stated that she really was not interested in signing up for the internet until she learned how to use her computer.
Here in DC, we get caught up in many debates that really don’t matter. On the Capitol Hill, it is always the service providers fault for not having America wired. However, in many instances, the town has broadband but the take rate is poor. Blaming the carriers is the easy way out.
Perhaps, if we spent less time debating the tubes and instead come together and figure out how we can spur training programs so that folks can master necessary skills to run a business — maybe the take rate would go up.
At the end of the day, I met Sharon Ober from the Community Center and did this quick interview with her about her impressions for the Day of Service.
If you participated in the Day of Service - and have some photos, blogs posts, video or podcasts, and I didn't find you, please drop a note in the comments below. And, if you participated, but did create content and want to share your impressions, leave them in the comments below.