"Tech Equity: Access to Technology" City Club Forum May 6

(PRWEB) April 23, 2005

At its weekly Friday Forum luncheon on May 6, City Club of Portland will take up the issue of “Tech Equity: Social Impact through Access to Technology,” with guest speakers from three Portland nonprofit organizations, including: Nigel Ballard, Director, The Personal Telco Project; Oso Martín, Founder/Outreach Coordinator, Free Geek; Arturo Villaseñor, Access Technology Coordinator, Centro Cultural of Washington County.

The digital revolution — especially the Internet — has affected all parts of society, from economics to entertainment. But its fast-paced development has left many marooned offline for lack of resources. Three Portland nonprofit organizations, however, hope to use their unique brand of techno-volunteerism to level the playing field while building social capital along the way. The Personal Telco Project, for example, develops free Internet access through public wireless networks throughout Portland. Free Geek recycles used technology to provide equipment to those in need. And Centro Cultural reaches out to teach low-income Latinos one-on-one how to use computers and the Internet. What’s at the root of these efforts to bridge the digital divide? How does each organization operate and who do they serve? What effect have they had on our community, and what do they have planned for the future?

City ClubÂ’s Friday Forum, which is open to the public, will be held in the third-floor ballroom of the Governor Hotel (614 S.W. 11th Ave.). Doors open at 11:30 a.m. Program begins at 12:15 p.m. and concludes at 1:15 p.m. Luncheon reservations must be made online at http://www.pdxcityclub.org or by calling 503-228-7231, ext. 103 or 102, by 2 p.m. Wed., May 4 (members only may call 503-241-9242). Luncheon tickets are $ 18 ($ 16 for members of City Club). Coffee/tea table tickets are $ 5 at the door. General seating, available at the door, is $ 5 (free for members of City Club).

A Note to Media

Media are encouraged to attend and are invited to sit in general seating. Please sign in at the registration table on the day of the forum. For broadcast media, an audio press patch will be available, and a riser for videotaping can be provided with advance notice. Contact Tim Krause at [email protected] or 503-228-7231, ext. 102.

About City Club of Portland

City Club of Portland is a nonprofit, nonpartisan civic affairs organization that promotes civic engagement and active citizenship to build a stronger community. Through unbiased research and compelling programs, City Club connects citizens with ideas and issues that affect our community. City Club is open to everyone who wants to interact with other citizens and shape the future of our city and state, providing a neutral forum for many diverse voices. For more information about City Club of Portland, visit http://www.pdxcityclub.org or call 503-228-7231.

About Nigel Ballard and the Personal Telco Project

Nigel Ballard draws upon 15 years experience in the wireless arena, from consulting to designing, implementing and marketing wireless and mobility solutions.

He has delivered his expertise globally to numerous internationally renowned clients including Hewlett Packard, 3COM, Microsoft, IBM, Intel and Accenture.

As the Wireless Director for Matrix Networks in Oregon, Ballard manages the company’s wireless division, which include installations at colleges, marinas, hotels, convention centers, RV parks, golf courses, enterprise and secure research establishments.

Ballard is a Director of the Portland Telecommunications Steering Committee, which is soon to issue an RFP for a citywide wireless cloud.

Interviewed by The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek as well as featured in numerous print and video publications internationally, Ballard is repeatedly sought for his thoughts on municipal wireless, community Wi-Fi and the impact that WiMAX will have on the telecommunications landscape moving forward.

In his free time, Ballard works to deliver high-speed wireless access to underserved communities. He is a director of Oregon nonprofit The Personal Telco Project, a volunteer group dedicated to providing free high-speed wireless access in public areas.

To learn more about BallardÂ’s wireless work, visit his Web site http://www.joejava.com.

The mission of The Personal Telco Project is to promote and build public wireless networks through community support and education.

The Personal Telco project is a volunteer group of Portlanders who believe that 802.11 (wireless networking, or “Wi-Fi”) technology is both cool and empowering. The organization started with its members turning their own houses and apartments into wireless hot spots (also referred to as “nodes”), and then set about building these nodes in public locations such as parks and coffee shops. Currently The Personal Telco Project has more than 100 active nodes, and it eventually would like to cover the entire city of Portland.

For more information about The Personal Telco Project, visit http://www.personaltelco.net.

About Oso Martin and Free Geek

Oso Martín graduated from Arizona State University with a bachelor of science degree in architecture. He practiced architecture for 10 years in Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area. Martín moved to Portland in 1996 and founded Free Geek in the spring of 2000. He also volunteers with the City Repair Project and helps out with Portland’s annual Earth Day celebration.

Free Geek was founded in February 2000 to recycle computer technology and provide low and no-cost computing to individuals and not-for-profit and social change organizations in the community and throughout the world.

In the four years since its formation, Free Geek has recycled over 360 tons of electronic scrap and refurbished over 3,000 computer systems that are now in use by individuals and organizations in the community.

Free Geek does most of this work with volunteers (at any given time, about 200 are active). The volunteers disassemble the donated equipment and test the components, which are either recycled as electronic scrap or recycled into refurbished systems. These refurbished computers are then loaded with Open Source Software, such as GNU/Linux, Open Office and other free software.

For more information about Free Geek, visit http://www.freegeek.org or call 503-232-9350.

About Arturo Villasenor and Centro Cultural of Washington County

Arturo Villaseñor is coordinator of the Access Technology Program of Centro Cultural of Washington County.

Born in Mexico City, Villaseñor graduated from the National Polytechnic Institute in Mexico City in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in Mathematics and Physical Sciences. In his first profession as a civil engineer, he has worked on the restoration of historical buildings in Mexico City.

Villaseñor now teaches Spanish and English through Forest Grove School District, Portland Community College and Centro Cultural. He is also a computer instructor for adults at PCC and Centro Cultural as well as a painter and writer.

Villaseñor is a volunteer for Community Action, where he teaches math for GED testing, as well as adult literacy. He is also a photographer, poet and amateur musician.

Centro was founded in 1972 by Mexican American migrant families who, weary of the difficulties of raising their children on the migrant circuit, decided to make their homes permanently in the area. They channeled their dreams, talents and struggles into the creation of a new organization, which has led to the transformation of the Latino community.

Centro’s mission is to promote social and economic development, meet basic human and community needs, and increase cultural consciousness and understanding among diverse groups of the community. Centro Cultural.

The Community Technology Project of Centro Cultural is committed to developing and enhancing the access to information technology and computer technology education for low-income Latinos so they can use it as a powerful tool to improve the quality of their lives in this country. Centro Cultural’s ATP does this through a unique approach that is inviting, comfortable, enhancing and culturally adequate for this target population.

For more information about Centro Cultural, visit http://www.centrocultural.org or call 503-359-0446.

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About The Author

Ibrar Ayyub

Ibrar Ayyub is an experienced technical writer with a Master's degree in computer science from BZU Multan University. He has written for various industries, mainly home automation, and engineering. He has a clear and simple writing style and is skilled in using infographics and diagrams. He is a great researcher and is able to present information in a well-organized and logical manner.

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