the future has bensonhurst

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i used to come home to visit family in brooklyn and feel like i was stepping into the past.  sure, this is new york, it's hardly the middle of nowhere, but still...a year ago i couldn't even really get people to understand the concept of a "technology nonprofit".  now i'm using the free wireless that's spilling over from the neighbor's house while watching coverage of last week's on ny1, and my sister, who teaches history to 7th graders at a local Goes Mobile

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I have an update from the people at to add to the I wrote about them last month.  Now you can find places to donate stuff using from your cell phone.  According to the site, all you have to do is to enter into your phone-based web browser, enter your zip code, press Find and voilá, you'll see a list of charity drives within 15 miles of your zip code.

You no longer have an excuse for having a random bag of clothes/books/CDs, in your trunk for 6 months Smile

Houston Net Tuesday June recap - local technology review discussion

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Houston NetSquared June 2006A late recap on June's Houston NetSquared meetup (sorry guys!):

We enjoyed a laidback evening, sans speaker or formal presentation, that included a meet and greet session of local technology and non profit advocates, as well as a review of recent technology events.

Some topics discussed:


  • - what happened, who attended, next steps, how similar non-conferences benefit non profit technology interests
  • Consolidated Houston technology calendar and Web site plans
  • Various content management systems
  • Accessibility for not only the disabled, but non-English speakers and the elderly 


Whether and how to use MySpace: an interview with Pete Cashmore of Mashable

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Pete Cashmore writes a popular blog about new Web 2.0 services at . He's a consultant for organizations looking to leverage the new social web paradigm. Pete frequently covers web services that he says are designed to "feed the MySpace beast".

Along with (subject of an upcoming interview) is a topic that many nonprofit organizations are giving some amount of thought to engaging with. The has been added to the friends list of almost 70,000 MySpace users. That profile page uses multimedia extensively and if your organization seeks to get into MySpace, you may want to consider moving beyond a simple default page as well.

Other organizations participating in MySpace include , Philadelphia's , the and many, many more.  When MySpace users  add one of these groups as a friend, they are notified whenever new items, events or writings are added to the organization's page.

What do immigrant organizers need to know about databases?

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One of my favorite projects these days is the "Immigrant Organizers Information Technology Network," which a joint undertaking by the Center to Support Immigrant Organizing and , and is funded by . Right now, I'm helping to put together a clinic for a cluster of groups in

The affiliated with these groups are the best in the world at for immigrants, and they juggle an awe-inspiring amount of information about constituents, donors, policy makers, service providers, activists, and other stakeholders.  Most of this juggling is done in their heads, or on paper, or with - very few of them also have expertise in .  What to do?

In June, offered these groups a "Databases 101" workshop, designed for smart people who are starting from scratch in learning about databases.  This month, the goal is to follow up with a clinic that will enable them to get down to cases about their specific needs. 

We've invited from three local organizations - , , and - to serve as "clinicians."  These folks all have extensive experience with both database development and grassroots organizing.  So far, so good!

But the remaining challenge is to craft the clinic in such a way that all of the immigrant organizers come away with a feeling of confidence, a practical understanding of how databases can help them, and a list of to take back to their offices.

Among , there's considerable consensus that subjecting people to yet another just isn't the answer, so I am currently on a quest for better ideas.


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