By Pete Forsyth of Portland, Oregon. Pete is a computer geek, a political activist, and a Free Geek volunteer.
Last weekend, Portland's unique non-profit Free Geek suffered a disheartening burglary.
Free Geek serves the community in important ways: it keeps older computer equipment out of landfills, and provides working computers to community organizations and to its volunteers. In the process, it provides free computers and computer training to its many volunteers, and exposes them to the benefits of free and Open Source software.
An Oregon original, Free Geek has developed drawn international attention. Organizations modeled after Free Geek have sprouted up in places like Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Washington.
The burglars stole equipment valued at $4500. Damage to the facility is estimated at about $1500. The newly established Laptops Program, providing free laptops to organizations like Lower Chinook Tribe, National Council of Jewish Women, Veterans for Peace, and Bolivian Medical Exchange, felt the greatest impact.
If you or your workplace have unneeded computer equipment on hand - especially laptops - now would be a most welcome time to donate it to Free Geek, and would help them get back on their feet. (Note that there is a mandatory $10 fee for all non-flat-panel monitors.) Monetary contributions are also encouraged; the organization hopes to recover the $6000 lost to this burglary by the end of the year, and has already received about $1200 toward that goal.
Read more here.