Board of Directors / notes / technology grants

Final thoughts: opportunities and challenges

We have just about finished our work at Grace House women’s shelter to help them get up and running with their computer lab, running WattOS R6 (LTS, based on Ubuntu 12.04) and using refurbished school computers.  WattOS uses only 80-90mb of RAM on startup, so is an ideal OS for the aging computers.  It is lighter than Ubuntu but retains all its software selection, ease of setup and hardware compatibility.

GSTEP is going to rest, for now, unless and until someone else would like to pick this worthy project up again and run with it.  Please contact us if you are interesting in doing so, and I will transfer all the available information to you!  The domain will expire in August 2014, but this blog will be available indefinitely to document where the project has come and what it is doing.

Some final closing thoughts on the project about opportunities and challenges:

  • There is lots of demand for the services that GSTEP offers.  Although mobile technology is a growing trend, an increasing proportion of society is being left out of an ability to have computer and internet access due to the accelerating economics of planned obsolescence.  Likewise, as institutional budgets continue to suffer, saavy administrators will look for alternative ways to meet core information technology needs.
  • Likewise, it was very difficult to recruit  consistent help.
    • The project had one core organizer throughout its duration, and 3-4 consistent and reliable volunteers.
    • The Board of Directors suffered from several sudden resignations and withdrawals of commitment (~six people came, committed, and suddenly left), which had a huge morale impact on the core organizers as well as a negative impact on the organizational development momentum.
    • Although there was a small core of committed volunteers, there were too many things that needed to be done in order to develop the organizational capacity and meet demands.  Existing volunteers were stretched thin and it seemed that few or no other community members were willing to help.
    • The core organizer was also committed to several other community development projects, and was still responsible for conducting all outreach, meeting agendas, facilitation and note-taking, task delegation and project management.
  • The supply of recyclable equipment is reliable and steady.  Garten Services can’t possibly handle everything, and doesn’t have the same education / empowerment focus.  Nor does it do technology grants and local recirculation beyond its storefront.  Also, Garten Services will not be able to continue profiting from its infrastructure monopoly (where it charges on both sides of the equation!) forever.
  • We had yet to do sufficient outreach to area groups, neighborhood organizations, local allies such as the Master Recyclers.  So lots of untapped potential possible with just a little more time investment.

The project can probably succeed with one or two people who really believe in this idea and are willing to run with it as a passion.  Contact us if you think that’s you, or if you know someone who fits that description!


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