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local community involvement
at the DDRC

Community services and involvement

They tell me that every really hip, happening corporation needs a "community service" page.

Of course, I'm not a corporation, I'm just me (and we'll just not worry about whether I'm a "hip, happening me" for now). I do have this habit of starting corporations, and have businesses involved in everything from computer software and data services; film, video, and music production; martial arts and stunt training, and news and other print media.

After having enough people tell me that I really *should* have a page like this, I finally wrote one. So there., um, where was I? Oh, yeah...the obligatory boring introductory paragraph. Here we go:

Like you, I'm not only a part of this online community, but also a part of my local community, which in my case has its physical center in the Denver metropolitan area, embracing Denver and its suburbs, Boulder, Castle Rock, and Colorado Springs. I may not have much ability to solve the world's problems or even make that much of a dent in them, but at least there are a few ways I can make my own little corner of the universe a little bit better.

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some of the Nyx servers

Nyx Net [ ], the world's oldest free public-access ISP lives in my basement. I provide most of the hardware and, with the help of fellow directors Darlene Cypser and Terry Knab, and a worldwide team of volunteers who handle everything from systems administration to software maintenance and user support, we're able to provide access to news, email, and the world wide web, and host personal and nonprofit websites (Nyx has a strict "no commercial use" policy) without ads or monthly fees.

Nyx's dialup access is limited to the Denver metropolitan dialing area, but its users are worldwide and can access their accounts from anywhere via telnet or through a web-based interface.

One of my companies, The Midgard Corporation, picks up the tab for the internet hookup; the remainder of Nyx's operating expenses are covered by voluntary contributions. (Nyx Net is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit; and donations are tax-deductable and may be matched by your employer.)

a vanful of surplus computers

One of the ways that Nyx can run as cheaply as it does is by using the hardware that everybody else is getting rid of because it's not state-of-the-art this week. Sometimes administering a this kind of a hodgepodge of machines presents an extra challenge, but the cost savings and sheer sense of adventure more than makes up for it.

Even back in the pre-PC days, I'd been actively redistributing computer equipment to individuals and groups that would have gone without otherwise. Nowadays, computer systems become "obsolete" as far as most businesses are concerned within a few years at most, which means a greater-than-ever supply of recently-state-of-the-art computers than ever before. But the flip side of this technological progress is that computer skills and knowlege have gone from rare commodities to basic requirements for many jobs.

Unfortunately, those who can most benefit from the opportunity to use a few-year-old computer aren't the ones who have access to these corporate castoffs and discards. A large company might offer some of its leftovers to its employees who already have computer-related jobs, but they typically can't afford the overhead and time involved in offering them to the general public.

at the DDRC

In the course of buying surplus networking and IT equipment for my own companies and to maintain and upgrade Nyx, I have the opportunity to acquire companies' aging desktop workstations by the pallet, which I can pass on to local individuals and organizations, including the Developmental Disabilities Resource Center [ ], Friends of Dinosaur Ridge [ ], the Colorado Music Association [ ], and many others.

In the last few years, with the help of Sandy Turcotte and her program, the Masaba Project, headquartered in Colorado Springs, and other volunteers, I've been able to get a lot more computers and equipment out to low-income groups; assistance programs; underfunded rural school districts; and Native American reservations in the Rocky Mountain region.

cutting the ribbon at the computer cottage

I've also enjoyed the support and assistance of local surplus electronics and computer dealers and brokers, notably Action Computers [ ] from whom I've gotten not only hundreds of computers per year, but also video and data projection equipment that I've provided to educational programs, school districts, and even nonprofit art and educational programs.

portable CD players for the Christmas program

I'm not above making use of ordinary retail channels, though. To fill out the shopping list for the Christmas program, I did a little last-minute shopping at "Toy Liquidators" in Castle Rock's Factory Outlet Stores and a few of the other local discount stores that had particularly good pre-Christmas sales on everything from small electronics to puzzles and games.

As long as you aren't set on getting a "Tickle Me Elmo" doll or a Playstation2 game console, it might surprise you just how inexpensively you can shop for a few hundred children.

But you might want to avoid the peak shopping hours, lest you make too many other shoppers wait while you get your holiday haul through the checkout line.

gift boxes for the elder program
the instant digital theater at work

Once in a while, I've managed to sneak in a benefit performance and/or provided the equipment and funding.

This particular pic is from the nonprofit Bug Theatre, which I've since provided with a permanent digital projection system.

Through four of the Midgard Group of companies, Valkyrie Illumination, Asgard Entertainment, Inferno Film Productions, and GoGo Media, LLC, I sponsored the Independent Film Series at the Bug Theatre (one of the nonprofits that I also provide webhosting and support services for) and one-time events, like the Denver screening of Sixteen Decisions ] the award-winning documentary film about women and economic development in Bangladesh.

MCing at the Paramount
at the Cybermountain Hypertext Colloquium

On a more global scale, I hosted and provided the computer equipment for the 1999 CyberMountain Hypertext Colloquium [ ] which attracted dozens of hypertext developers and writers from the Americas and Europe to present papers and participate in workshops.

Another recent project with Asgard Entertainment and the Denver Museum of Nature and Science was providing entertainment and recreations of Viking-style combat for and the Smithsonian's touring exhibit, "Vikings, The North Atlantic Saga" ]

(And I didn't even know I was on the posters and ads until I saw them on display.)

historical reenactment at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science
the Sweetwater Dancers at the Garden of the Gods

I'm also providing equipment and technical support to the Shanaka Music recording project, a nonprofit program to record and preserve traditional Native American songs and the words of their elders, with the proceeds going to fund scholarships for Native American citizens.

wind in the leaves

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