Helping the Needy Get NerdyJun 30th, 2009 | By Collective | Category: Community Board
Everybody needs a computer these days. You need a computer to find a job, and you need a computer to find social assistance supports if you can’t get a job. You need a computer to keep in touch with your friends and relations. If you join a club or a team or a band or a movement, you need a computer. If you’re sick at home or minding the napping pre-schooler, having a computer means you can read the news, find your tunes, check your bank account or find a phone number if your phone book is out of date, all without leaving home or spending another dime.
But computers are expensive, and software is expensive. The Internet does not come free. And the computer you have now is hopelessly obsolete. How to get a new computer?
Wait a minute! There are dozens, maybe hundreds or thousands, of perfectly good computers being thrown out every day in this town. They may no longer meet the needs of high-end business users, but they are still plenty good enough for new users, and especially for low income people. But most of these computers will end up in landfill, here or in China, or trucked via smelly fossil-fuel-burning vehicles to recycling plants. They constitute a serious waste and pollution problem.
Isn’t there a way to solve both these problems at the same time?
CyberEquality is the working title for a project that hopes to bring Toronto into the growing Free Geek movement. So, what’s a Free Geek?
Free Geek is a thriving not-for-profit organization that started in Portland, Oregon in the year 2000. Their mission is to recycle electronic waste in a safe and ethical manner, while providing people from the community with access to computers, the Internet, education and job skills, in exchange for community service. There are now affiliated groups in eight states, and in Vancouver, BC.
CyberEquality will organize training for community members to build their own computers from recycled parts, and to install and use free, open source software. They will provide a workshop, tools, and a collection point for donated computers. With support from neighbourhood agencies in Toronto’s west end, they hope to be up and running by the new year.
Who’s in charge of all this, anyway? Well actually, you are. In accordance with Free Geek principles, CyberEquality will be democratically run in a non-hierarchical way that is open and transparent to all participants in its programs. If you want to be one of those in charge, contact cyberequality [at] yahoo dot ca, or call 416-657-1558.
And stay tuned for further exciting developments!