writing

Digital Expansion Initiative Program Developer

Organization: 
People's Production House
VISTA Name: 
Alexis Walker
Program Start: 
6/2007
Project Description: 

The Digital Expansion Initiative uses participant-led media production, education, and organizing to expand meaningful access to all New Yorkers. The VISTA will support the project by producing and helping others produce radio and by conducting research.

- Develop a comprehensive understanding of the barrier to technology access in poor communities in New York City by training members of 5 - 10 non-profit organizations to research and report on the state of Internet access in their organizations and among their constituencies
- Produce and distribute community-produced content documenting the state of Internet access in New York City as a way to engage new constituents in the development of broadband infrastructure of programs to bridge the digital divide
- Based on community-produced content, produce and distribute comprehensive report on barrier to Internet access in New York City
- Build a new constituency of engaged and conversant experts on community access technology, based in communities with no or limited access to technology, and the capacity to continue expanding that constituency

Project Outcome: 

During her year of service, Alexis served as the program associate for a new program: the Digital Expansion Initiative. In this capacity, she served as support for the program - maintaing contact records and contacting organizations for partnerships, consolidating data, researching articles and resources, updating website content, conducting audio interviews, administering a written survey, writing articles on public policy of telecommunications, and presenting the initiative’s finding and methods in workshops around NYC and the country.

Fundraising and Event Planning

Organization: 
Active Media Foundation
VISTA Name: 
Cecille Isidro
Program Start: 
6/2007
Program End: 
6/2008
Project Outcome: 

Cecille and Josh have been helping with the Cooperative Measurement and Modeling of Open Networked Systems (COMMONS) project and have done fantastic work aiding with logistics on this initiative. We are currently moving forward with piloting our first COMMONS networks and integrating local community networks into the larger project.

Cecille has also aided me with report writing, drafting several grant applications, and logistics on events.

Cecille, Josh, and I are in discussions with ARIN to provide the first-ever major allocation of IPv6 numbers for community networks. This would transform many networking initiatives throughout the country and represents the culmination of two+ years of work.

Research and Writing

VISTA Name: 
Howard Fisher
Program Start: 
9/2010
Program End: 
7/2011
Project Description: 

Howie’s role is to evaluate the collaborative relationships between the Transmission Project, its Service Corps members, and its partner organizations. To this end, he delves into the Transmission Project’s past in order to build on our 10 year history of collaborative capacity building. With an eye to the Project’s future, he also conducts research on trends in the public media field.

Project Outcome: 

Howard has been an amazing resource to the Transmission Project during his year of service. Howard has enabled the Transmission Project to make sense of its 10 years of history, including: putting all of our 400+ projects online in a searchable database; collecting stories and statistics about the impact of our projects; identifying and describing best (and worst) practices in public media and technology. In this latter role, Howard has published numerous articles and whitepapers on diverse topics: social media, donor databases, fundraising, project management, and national service. In these tasks, Howard is an active agent in reaching out to interview fellow VISTAs, organizational partners and other leaders in the field; he has strengthened the Transmission Project’s relationship to other nonprofit and public media organizations.

Digital Story Archiving

VISTA Name: 
Patrick Castrenze
Program Start: 
7/2009
Program End: 
7/2010
Project Description: 

CDS has on archive over 6000 digital stories, the largest archive of digital stories in the world representing 16 years of work, and we continue to capture as a national/international organization more than 800 stories per year. The archival system has evolved slowly over the last decade, we can identify the location of the vast majority of stories by the workshop name and date, but we lack a robust system of managing the stories based on meta-data tags and client name. To secure the archive for future generations we need to maintain a robust system, and enhance its capabilities. The capacity to fully integrate effective archival practices into all of our workshops and post-production processes is an invaluable contribution to the field.

We are seeking a CTCVISTA member to help develop our Archive and Post Production Technical Support systems. This work would include:
Reviewing existing archive project and systems, research comparable systems in other organizations: enhancing and developing database systems for our movie archive; enhancing and developing post-production systems for managing participant data, update materials for post production process and software tutorials, DVD and Website templates for publication; developing model research/curatorial projects for each initiative process using archive as basis for examining relevant issues in connection to poverty.

The CTC Vista will work with the Supervisor/Technical Director to further develop and enhance two major systems of our organization, the CDS story archive and CDS Post-Production system

The tasks will include:
1. Review existing archive project and systems, research comparable systems in other organizations
2. Enhance and develop database systems for our movie archive.
3. Enhance and develop post-production systems for managing participant data
4. Develop model research/curatorial projects for each initiative process using archive as basis for examining relevant issues in connection to poverty.

Project Outcome: 

Principal Task: Archive.
Accomplishments: Research best/appropriate RAID system for CDS archive of story data. Arranged for purchase of system. Migrated data onto new system. Met all deadlines. Research and purchasing assistance from Apple Certified Support Professional, Clinton Gilbert. Migration assistance from Jennifer Nazzal, CDS Post Production Supervisor. Needs analysis and design of custom organizational system to accommodate over 8TB of story data covering over 10 years of various types of Digital Storytelling workshops and projects conducted around the world. Set-up, installation and troubleshooting of dedicated computer station to operate the RAID. Review and organization of over 8TB of story data into custom system. Collection and integration of additional data from 4 Field office staff members. Creation of record of files for review purposes. Creation of multi-chapter guide for institutional use of the RAID system and data management. Training of staff and interns for continuation of RAID maintenance. Archive intern selection and management overseeing data entry by archive interns during May-July.

Additional Archive Task: CDS Online Story Theater.
Accomplishments: Organized existing data and back-end of Theater. Compiled new submission form for CDS Staff to submit entries to Theater. Compiled new stories and associated data and added to Theater. Participated in promoting new stories in CDS quarterly newsletter. Creation of mulit-chapter guide for institutional use of the Online Story Theater platform and back-end data management. Training of staff and interns for continuation of Story Theater.

Patrick also undertook a complete proof-reading of our book entitled Digital Storytelling: Capturing Lives, Creating Community. This task included revisions on nearly every page of the book as well as considerable copy-editing of our new revised curriculum chapter: The Seven Steps of Digital Storytelling.

Technology Enhancement Coordinator

Organization: 
Friends of Trees
VISTA Name: 
Toshio Suzuki
Program Start: 
9/2009
Program End: 
5/2010
Project Description: 

Friends of Trees’ Technology Enhancement Coordinator (TEC) will help Friends of Trees expand the effectiveness and extent of its communications through blogging, social media, and Google Ads. The TEC will also assist in organizing Friends of Trees’ donor and volunteer data so the organization can efficiently transition from using its current Access database to using its new Salesforce system.

1) Establishment of a Friends of Trees staff, board, and arborist partners blog.
2) Expansion of our social media and online networking.
3) Fine-tuning of our Google Ads through tracking and analysis, the updating of keywords and ad content, and the creation of new Google Ad campaigns as appropriate.
4) Assistance in completing, cleaning, and managing our data in the migration from our old Access database to our new Salesforce database.

Project Outcome: 

Toshio started working with Friends of Trees in July 2009 and immediately began researching how other nonprofits handled their blogs, inviting our community partners to contribute to our blog once it was set up, collecting blog post ideas, taking photos, creating videos, and doing other work in anticipation of creating a blog for Friends of Trees. Since Friends of Trees was in the process of designing a new web site and we needed to set up the blog in sync with the new web site, in a format that could be integrated with the new web site and complement it in appearance, Toshio wasn’t able to officially launch the blog until some of our design decisions were made. Toshio launched the blog on Tuesday, Sept. 1, 2009. On that day, the blog had two visitors. As of my writing this report, the blog has more than 3,000 visitors a month and more than 200 visits per day. Each visitor spends about two and a half minutes on the blog. Through the blog, and through his comments on other group’s blogs, Toshio has increased Friends of Trees’ visibility and importance in the community in addition to driving many more people to our web site than visited it previously.

In addition to his accomplishments with our blog, Toshio’s work on our Google AdWords account has enhanced our online presence. One measure of his success is how much of our allotted $10,000 of in-kind Google ads per month we’re using, since the more we spend, the more people must be clicking on our ads. Since July 2009, our monthly spending has increased from $7,000 to the maximum $10,000. The number of clicks on our ads per month has increased from 8,000 to 14,000, and the number of impressions or times that people see our ads per month has increased from 400,000 to 620,000.

Toshio also manages our Flickr, YouTube, and Facebook accounts, posting photos that Friends of Trees staff and volunteers take at weekend plantings and adding comments to the photos as well as a link to our web site. This not only engages our supporters, who enjoy seeing the pictures, but also drives new people to our web site when our photos show up on Google Image searches. Toshio responds regularly to postings on our Facebook Fan page to keep that part of our online community engaged. We now have 900 Facebook fans. More recently, Toshio set up a Twitter account for Friends of Trees, and by tweeting a few times a day, he’s further increased traffic to our blog and web site and spread the word about our plantings and partnerships through numerous retweets. Toshio has produced many videos for both our blog and our YouTube site, and has posted the videos on local TV and newspaper web sites as well as sent them to elected officials featured in the videos, who have then posted the videos on their web sites.

Toshio accomplished a number of additional projects, including working with an IT consultant to add memory to our server so we could make regular backup copies of our extensive data. Toshio took on the project at the start of his service with us, when he was waiting to launch the blog as we made design decisions for our new web site. Another important project that Toshio took on as he waited for our blog to be set up was our organization’s transition from using MS Outlook to using Gmail. Toshio did online research and carefully timed the transition so it went very smoothly. Toshio also trained staff members how to use the various features of Gmail. We were eager to switch to Gmail because of the great amount of spam we received through our Outlook account. Gmail has been much better. Toshio also was an invaluable resource in producing some of our printed materials. In November, as I spent an unanticipated amount of time organizing Friends of Trees’ 20th anniversary celebration, Toshio agreed to design the printed newsletter I would ordinarily have produced. He knew InDesign software already, which was helpful, and he’s an excellent writer. He did a fine job on the newsletter.

Impact Quote: 

Toshio brought his own expertise to the job. He already knew how to use WordPress and had created a blog of his own before he joined Friends of Trees. His writing skills, his ability to take photos and make videos, his willingness to learn about social media possibilities, and his openness to learning about all aspects of our work made it possible for him to accomplish a great deal quickly. Toshio’s personable way with Friends of Trees staff, volunteers and community partners also invited their participation in the blog.

Regulatory Research VISTA

Organization: 
Prometheus Radio Project
VISTA Name: 
Brandy Doyle
Program Start: 
9/2009
Program End: 
9/2010
Project Description: 

Prometheus has always done work to make the workings of the FCC more transparent and to bring a wider array of voices to the table as the FCC considers the media future. A VISTA will allow the organization to reorganize this often harried work into a more systematic operation for Prometheus.

The regulatory research project involves researching legal and technical issues as they relate to communications regulations, for the purpose of informing regulatory rule-makings. This would include topics such as Low Power radio, media ownership, spectrum policy, and the analog to digital transition.

Goal 1: Make FCC regulations and lawsuits relevant to media reform accessible to a broad audience

Goal 2: Prepare outreach plan for future FCC filing windows

Project Outcome: 

Goal #1 for our second VISTA was to “Make FCC regulations and lawsuits relevant to media reform accessible to a broad audience.” Brandy Doyle has developed a working knowledge of FCC regulations and telecommunications law that she’s used to educate both the general public and other staff members on the rules that impact community radio. She has written a number of brief, plain-English articles about complex regulatory subjects, including digital radio, radio spectrum policy, and broadcast media ownership. Brandy led the effort to develop a comprehensive plan for the organization’s regulatory work, including a 20+ page document on regulatory work – the most comprehensive the organization has ever produced. This plan proved instrumental gathering input from the entire staff collective in decisions about future regulatory priorities. As part of her goal to make regulatory procedures more accessible, Brandy designed and led a series of public workshops in different settings. In April Brandy held an educational workshop at WMNF Community Radio in Tampa, Florida on media ownership and FCC rulemaking process. In May, Brandy co-presented on “Community Journalism: Its Relevance in Radio and How to Bring it to your Newsroom” with Terri Klemetson, news director at KMUD, and co-presented “The D.C. Report: Community Radio, Politics And Policy” with Pete Tridish at Grassroots Radio Conference. Also in May, she facilitated a discussion with Davis Media Access about the challenges and benefits of community radio/public access television partnerships. Brandy has been aided by her coworkers in the regulatory policy team who have taught her how to research FCC dockets and given her context and information to make sense of them. She has also received support from the rest of the staff.

Because of her own interests, skills, and experience, Brandy has chosen to taken on a number of general writing and editing projects for the organization. Brandy has worked with the communications staff to think through a more comprehensive press strategy, not just a press strategy for outreach, as described in her VISTA assignment, and has played a role in improving our process for media advisories and press releases. Another responsibility Brandy has taken on has been to help coordinate aspects of our new website launch. She’s also taken on responsibility for responding to requests to volunteer at Prometheus, a role that rotates amongst collective members.

Impact Quote: 

All of Brandy’s work has been conducted with an eye towards sustainability. The documents she has helped to produce continue to be re-used on our website and in policy briefs for FCC staff and public education. Brandy has provided an invaluable long term contribution to our organization. - Danielle Chynoweth, VISTA Supervisor

Assistant Editor and Curriculum Coordinator

VISTA Name: 
Danielle Martin
Program Start: 
8/2005
Program End: 
8/2007
Project Description: 

A VISTA will help coordinate the variety of content that supports the CTC VISTA Project and that the Project produces for the community media and technology fields. This position provides an excellent environment in which to develop professional editorial skills in various media. This VISTA will serve as Assistant Editor of the Community Technology Review

As specified in this year’s project basics (www.cpcs.umb.edu/vista/projectbasics.htm), all organizations participating in the VISTA Project will be required to do some work in one of four areas (community networking, community organizing, technology assistance to nonprofits, and digital media for youth). Nationally known experts will be coordinating each of these areas. The Curriculum Coordinator will work with these experts to develop curricular material to be used for people with interest these areas and for the College’s Community Media and Technology program.

Project Outcome: 

In her capacity as Assistant Editor of “The Community Technology Review” (www.comtechreview.org), Danielle ably undertook a wide range of responsibilities including taking over the reins from the previous Associated Editor and completing all organizing and author communication already in the works, coordinating sections and writing a substantial number of articles for the fall issue. She oversaw the development and production of the online version, dealt with university printing services in arranging for hard copy printings, and did author/contributor follow-up. Following this, she was helpfully involved in working with the Advisory Committee in undertaking future planning, and when the decision was made for the publication to go on hiatus and be replaced in the interim with the Project newsletter/report, she accepted oversight responsibility and published the first issue (see www.cpcs.umb.edu/vista/newsletters) in its entirety. She has followed this up with taking primary responsbility for planning future issues for the remainder of the project year, including coordination with the Priority Area Coordinator materials, as that dovetails and integrates with her work with them in developing curricular material for the project that can be integrated with the College’s Community Media and Technology Program (www.cpcs.umb.edu/cmt). In addition to these things, she has proved to be a key and invaluable member of the project leadership team at office headquarters.

Danielle serves as liason between the Community Media and Technology Program curriculum building efforts and the VISTA project’s content focused learning groups. She has been extremely effective in working with faculty in curriculum design, making real connections between the field work of the VISTA’s and the CMT curriculum. She has also worked to assist me in the Tactical Media project, a project-based learning initiative of the program, in coordinating planning and research, presentations and communications flow for the project. She has also taken the leadership in creating and presenting a number of new media workshops, digital storytelling, for example. Along with her VISTA partner, she coordinated a digital media mini conference for students, faculty and staff. Danielle has undertaken extensive curriculum research for a study on community media our program is doing in conjunction with the Benton Foundation, as well research for the development of future courses in the College of Public and Community service. Danielle has performed at a very high level of thoughtfulness and strategic insight. Danielle has made an enormous contribution to the CMT program’s development.

Danielle has quickly become an important part of the Project headquarters team. She has shown admirable persistence in her efforts to draw some useful ‘curriculum’ from busy VISTAs and under-utilized ‘priority area coordinators.’ I actually think that she has accomplished more in this area than she gives herself credit for– mostly through her exchanges with VISTAs in the field but also through her (and Shannon’s) efforts to get VISTAs involved in workshops and events related to the CMT program. She has in some sense become an unofficial VISTA leader through here extensive contact with VISTAs across the country. She has also done a good deal of evangelizing for the Project– a number of new organizations will be applying as a result of these efforts. She’s a gifted/natural-born communicator and that’s just so helpful in so many ways.

Community Organizer

VISTA Name: 
Jessica Rothschuh
Program Start: 
3/2006
Program End: 
2/2007
Project Description: 

Goal 1: Engage underserved communities in the policy-making process to address local issues

Project Outcome: 

Jessica has used technology tools to facilitate organizational communication and information gathering/sharing at TCP. These tools included an Intranet, the Vienna newsreader and a del.icio.us account for the organization. This work has enabled TCP to stay on top of cutting edge issues in the field of youth and technology.

She has also made major contributions in researching, writing, editing and design work for some of our products. This has helped TCP achieve its mission of advocating for digital resources and access to benefit the nation’s 73 million children and youth, particularly those who are low-income or underserved.

Jessica has also completed several projects for CCTPG, working towards meeting the broader goal of advocating for all communities’ access to broadband and advanced technologies and the benefits they offer.

Working with several colleagues, Jessica helped create the new CCTPG Web site and edited, updated and posted a majority of the documents currently available. She uploaded the contacts currently in the CiviCRM and created an automated sign-up form for new members. She was also responsible for many listserv and Web site updates and helped with several outreach efforts, including a videoconference. She gathered information for an online map of CTCs and helped with CCTPG’s network restructuring.

One of the measurements of Jessica’s success was whether CCTPG won any legislative victories while she was serving. Of the four pieces of legislation CCTPG focused on last year, three of them passed.

Marketing and Outreach

VISTA Name: 
Kristen Nash
Program Start: 
9/2006
Program End: 
9/2007
Project Description: 

The broad focus of Kristen’s work over the past year was marketing and public relations—helping to make NTRC and our programs more visible in the community.

Project Outcome: 

Kristen produced a variety of written materials and marketing collateral for potential partners, funders, and clients. She assumed responsibility for our quarterly newsletter; created and distributed flyers, postcards, and brochures for all three sites; and provided the photography, design, and some of the written content for our annual report. In addition to Kristen’s writing and design work, she organized several events designed to increase public awareness of our offerings, including job fairs and open houses. Finally, Kristen helped NTRC evaluate and improve its community engagement efforts through focus groups and an internal SWOT analysis. Although marketing was the main focus of her VISTA year, Kristen contributed to NTRC’s day-to-day operations by representing the organization at meetings and outreach events; contributing research, editing, and proofreading services; and performing or creating interviews, surveys, and other workforce development tasks. Kristen’s impact on the organization can be seen in three major ways: first, NTRC marketing materials have stepped up several levels because of her efforts; second, NTRC hosted a successful job fair in August 2007 with over 100 participants; and third, NTRC produced a visually impressive and content rich Year 2 Report for our Chicago Housing Authority funded “Make IT a Priority” Training Program Report in the Spring of 2007.

The best story to demonstrate Kristen’s contributions to NTRC is to tell you what we did when Kristen’s year-long commitment was complete. Despite the fact that prior to her arrival, the position that Kristen filled did not exist, NTRC offered her full-time employment at the termination of her VISTA year because during that year, Kristen proved herself to be a vital member of the team and not someone we were willing to give up. Other than that, most of Kristen’s contributions are best viewed, rather than told. The dramatic improvement in our marketing materials, quarterly newsletters, and reports speak for themselves.

VISTA Leader

VISTA Name: 
Dan Schackman
Program Start: 
6/2004
Program End: 
8/2005
Project Description: 

Dan Schackman joined the CTC VISTA Project management team as one of two VISTA Leaders, after serving for two years as a CTC VISTA at CTCNet. In addition to VISTA Leader duties, Dan has served as Assistant Editor of the Community Technology Review journal and as Associate Producer of the Commonwealth Broadband Collaborative.

Project Outcome: 

As VISTA Leader, Dan
• Helped coordinate CTC VISTA PSO held in Boston August 30-Sept. 1;
• Developed a plan for VISTA Leaders and the Resource Specialist to facilitate monthly regional group conference calls and individual check-in calls with CTC VISTAs serving outside of the Boston area, replicating the MA CTC VISTA monthly in-person meeting, and implemented for his assigned groups in the Midwest and South;
• Redeveloped quarterly CTC VISTA News, the Project’s newsletter for the VISTAs, edited and published in the fall and winter;
• Participated in monthly MA CTC VISTA meetings;
• Provided feedback on various Project office communications and support systems: CTC VISTA Project web site relaunch, CTC VISTA Project blog and individual CTC VISTA Project blogs, Fall “care package” to VISTAs, various memos and resource sharing via email lists.

Notable challenges include: Making sure as many VISTAs, if not all, participate in the check-in calls and blogs, and dealing with VISTAs having particular difficulties at their site and/or in their lives, requiring a lot of time, patience, and tact.

As Assistant Editor, Community Technology Review,
• Developed new features for the journal, including expanded Resources section and Perspective endpiece column with guest writers.
• Did outreach for writers and resource contributors for Winter 2004-05 issue.
• Coordinated and helped edit Winter issue, sections and individual articles.
• Produced web site version of the Winter issue.
• Developed editorial plan for Spring 2005 issue.
• Developing ideas for redesigning web site, and developing advertising opportunities.

As Associate Producer, Commonwealth Broadband Collaborative
• Participated in planning meetings and discussions for future of CBC.
• Developed relationship with The September Project, a community remembrance and civil liberties awareness project focused on September 11 event.

Transmission Project