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Free Geek Vancouver: An Affordable Computer In Every Home


For the past month, VanRamblings has volunteered four hours a week at Free Geek Vancouver ...

"a nonprofit community organization that reduces the environmental impact of waste electronics by reusing and recycling donated technology ... (which also acts as) a place for people to share technology, and to work together to build healthier, more empowered communities ..."

Through community engagement Free Geek provides education, job skills training, Internet access and free or low cost computers to the public.

The impetus for travelling down to Free Geek, initially — aside from meeting co-founder Ifny Lachance, with whom we'd made contact while working on various political campaigns this past fall — occurred as a consequence of VanRamblings' desire to both volunteer with a worthwhile non-profit providing service to the community, as well as to transform 24 hours of work at Free Geek into a PC (Pentium 4, 60GB hard drive, 1GB RAM, 64MB graphics card) that we could donate ourselves to a deserving social agency.

As Ifny points out in this video ...

"If you commit to 24 hours of volunteer time with Free Geek, you earn a free computer. We also provide computers to non-profits; we have a Hardware Grant Foundation for organizations that are serving the community ... they can fulfill their mandate more effectively if they have not only the equipment that they need, but they don't have to scramble for money to buy brand new computers."

Free Geek supports free and open source technology, including Ubuntu, a community developed, Linux-based operating system that supplies all the applications you need — a web browser (Firefox), presentation, document and spreadsheet software (OpenOffice), instant messaging and much more.

Soon, we will have earned a free computer through our volunteer work — disassembling computers, picking up old computer equipment from schools across the city, receiving shipments, packing e-waste for responsible recycling, testing equipment and building computers — with Free Geek.

Even though we at VanRamblings consider ourselves techies, there's a surprising amount of information we weren't aware of — what a wonderful learning experience, then, that we've had at Free Geek this past month. If you're in the market for a computer and money's tight, or if you're looking for a worthwhile, educational volunteer opportunity, Free Geek is the place for you. Or, if all you're looking for is a 'new' computer, for only $100 you can pick up a custom built PC from Free Geek's computer thrift store.

Posted by Raymond Tomlin at January 18, 2009 4:48 PM in Web & Tech


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