CIVIC proposal to OPN Board 5/17/2002:
To live up to the name of "Oregon Public Networking", inspired by OPB's public broadcasting model of member-supported content, OPN must be more than a data pipe and needs to contribute to what flows through the pipe. It has become clear that EFN's mission is to be a public-interest-friendly universal access data pipe. I believe OPN will distinguish itself and best connect with its mission as a provider of public-interest content.
There are many public interest objectives that can be pursued, but I don't think OPN needs to champion any particular cause. Instead, OPN should focus on the following "core competencies" (if I may be so mundane as to use that term):
1. Train, equip and deploy web-masters and site designers to work with partner non-profit, government and educational organizations working on public interest projects. Such partner organizations should not all be reinventing the wheel-there are too many costly mistakes for them to make, like not using Open Source solutions, for example.
2. Identify opportunities to employ bazaar-style open-source collaboration concepts to benefit those projects. The question is, "How can we use the Internet and web to coordinate a large number of geographically-distributed volunteers to apply their collective energies to this public interest project?" For example, a clean-rivers project might put up a web sight to sell water testing equipment to high school science teachers and students who would then upload their own water testing results to the web site. Environmental lawyers could then scan the data to identify likely pollution violators. Students could compare their local water quality with other communities'. Everyone could track the change in water quality in their communities over time.
3. Put together a "grant-writing machine" team (with on-line database support, naturally) to crank out joint grant proposals collaboratively with other non-profit organizations. I believe OPN and partner NPOs would both gain legitimacy and stature through such partnerships and that philanthropists would be more likely to fund projects that let each organization concentrate on what it does best. (BTW, A third partner to many proposals will likely be a consortium of the PC-refurbishing organizations in town).
To further these goals, I propose that OPN establish a new standing "CIVIC Projects" committee of the OPN board to focus primarily on partner-projects with secondary purposes of:
· Grant-writing (in coordination with the Executive Director and Fundraising committee)
· Training webmasters (in coordination with an Education committee - does this exist formally at this time?), and
· Server equipment acquisition (in coordination with EFN and various PC-refurbishing groups).
The committee's primary activities would be outreach to partner organizations, joint proposal development, grant-writing, and coordination of staff and volunteers to fulfill obligations for funded grants.
I would start with the following list of people to consider for participation in the committee. I am still learning peoples' roles and past contributions, so I apologize in advance for people who should be involved not listed below (please! Step forward!) (Bold = OPN Board member):
· Marc Baber - Chair?
· Paul Harrison- Systems Analyst/Designer, Volunteer Coord++?
· Mark Williams- Outreach to Non-profits, Gov't, Education
· Sarah Wayland - Grantwriting coordinator
· John Crider- Program Director: (3) Nonprofit Web Support Services.
· Seth Cohn and/or designated System Administrator Group Liaison -- ???
· Steve Brenner-Assist outreach to Non-profits, Tech advisor/developer?
· David Caruso - Database applications development.
· Janet Tarver - Training/CTC/Education Liaison?
I propose an initial meeting on a Monday or Tuesday evening (or a lunch meeting?) with regular additional meetings TBD by the committee.