Free Geek – Computers for the Community

100818_freegeek_300.jpgWednesday, August 18, 2010. When our friend Daniel Lerch said we just had to get a tour of Free Geek, I wasn’t sure this was Peak Moment show material. After the tour, I was sure. A few days later, Reuse Program Coordinator Alison Briggs gave us a tour of the huge busy facility.

Free Geek is a non-profit organization that accepts donations of used electrical equipment, mainly computers. An army of volunteers tests, refurbishes, reuses and recycles the parts.

In their Adoption program, 24 hours of volunteering enables the volunteer to receive a free computer running open source software (free to the public), 3 hours of training, and a year of free tech support.

In their Build program, volunteers learn how to build a computer. After building five computers for Free Geek, the sixth belongs to the volunteer. Finished computers are sold in the thrift shop, given to volunteers, and provided to other non-profits.

The place just bustled with activity! A huge warehouse full of lots of people getting the job done — sorting, testing, identifying reusable components, pulling apart recyclable materials, building computers, checking software.

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I love it that people who might not otherwise be able to afford a computer have a way to get one. They’re empowered to learn for themselves rather than depending on specialists. A lot of waste is recycled responsibly and kept out of the landfills. The non-profit is self-sustaining. It’s run democratically (by committee; there is no Executive Director). What a great organizational model for environmental responsibility and social equity! [www.freegeek.org].

Watch Free Geek – Reviving Computers, Empowering People (Episode 228).

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