Free Geek. John at New Improved Media wanted me to blog something about Free Geek, so I asked him to write something about it. Here is what he wrote:
“Make the needy nerdy” is the motto of FREE GEEK, a Portland based 501(c)(3) not-for-profit, that takes used computers and makes them youthful and vibrant once again.Link Discuss (Thanks,John!) [Boing Boing Blog]
The technology revolution benefits many but creates two serious problems:
1. Computers manufactured today have a very short life cycle. Large numbers of computers are deemed obsolete within two years and discarded, pressuring landfills and leaking toxins into the environment. The National Safety Council reported that during 1997 more than 20 million computers reached obsolescence and only 11% were recycled or reused. At the current rate, by the year 2005, 350 million machines will become obsolete.
2. Many people lack ready access to computer technologies and the Internet’s information and communication resources. In 1999 the U.S. Commerce Department reported that households with incomes of $75,000 and higher were over twenty times more likely to have access to the Internet than households at the lowest income levels and nine times more likely to have a computer in the home.
FREE GEEK recycles used technology to provide computers, Internet access, education and job skills training to those in need. In exchange for a few hours of community service in the recycling center volunteers earn their very own Freek Box, a refurbished computer system loaded with the Gnu/Linux operating system and Free Software programs. FREE GEEK teaches new users how to operate their Freek Box and offers a variety of hip classes, like Perl programing, in their training center.
In the two years of its existence the GEEK has diverted over 100 tons of computer hardware away from the landfill and into the hands of many new Linux users. The 10,000 sq. ft. FREE GEEK Community Technology Center houses a recycling center, training facility, and a thrift shop where you can buy used equipment, FREE GEEK T-shirts, key chains made from RAM chips, and wind chimes made from recycled hard drive parts.