Lowell Telecommunications Corporation

Location:
Lowell, MA

LTC fosters open access to information and communication technologies for the distribution of free ideas, community development and personal empowerment. The following core values guide LTC in its work:
Accessibility and Inclusion
We are dedicated to providing low-cost access to content creation resources and the knowledge to use them without discrimination and with respect for each individual.
Creative Expression and Intellectual Freedom
We promote the artistic and expressive use of communication technologies within a free-speech environment without editorial control.
Community Building through Collaboration
We ground our work in strong collaborations with local community-based organizations, municipal departments and educational entities (including Educational Channel 22). We leverage our organizational resources to build capacity for others and ourselves.
Diversity in All Its Forms
We respect our diverse, multicultural, and dynamic urban population and are dedicated to meeting its many community communication and information needs.
Innovation in the Field of Community Communications
We seek to be an innovator in the field of community communications as demonstrated by our programmatic activities, technology implementation, production methods and overall excellence.

Supported Projects



Tutor and Event Documentarian

Thomas Konieczny
7/20087/2009

Thomas’ current duties consist of tutoring and mentoring individuals who are involved in various youth and community projects and organizations, and technical support for LTC’s various media and infrastructure upgrading projects.

He is good at working one-on-one with individuals and as a utility person on video projects. For example he helped set up and break down the mobile TV rig at a recent Lowell Symphony concert and at this summer’s Lowell African Festival. In between setting up and breaking down he participated as a camera man. He also has video editing skills and has completely edited a few TV shows highlighting community organizations, eg., a half hour show on (The Merrimack River) Clean River Project.

Tom has played a vital role in the LTC’s media work in a number of Lowell’s festivals such as the Lowell Folk Festival, the Lowell African Festival, the Southeast Asian Water Festival. He has worked as a youth project mentor with the River Ambassador Project, the Light of Cambodian Children project, Lowell Catholic High School’s media project, the UMass Lowell GEAR-UP summer project, the United Teen Equality Project and others. He has helps with one-on-one tutoring of new producers involved in two or three religious organization’s TV shows. He has helped out in our vast infrastructure upgrading program as well.






"DigitalBicycle" Program Development

Ben Sheldon
8/20058/2006

Ben will serve in a capacity building role related to the social network and technical infrastructure of the DigitalBicycle project. This will include some work in PHP/Drupal, working on user interface and workflow issues, assisting in the development of custom Linux installs for organizational “seeds”, and serving as a liaison with partner organizations. Writing will be a key part of Ben’s service, including documentation, training materials, and grant application materials. He may also serve as a representative of the DigitalBicycle at conferences and meetings, and may be asked to participate in presentations and panel discussions.

Ben successfully created a content moderation module for Drupal using PHP for comments, users, and submitted content. Ben also created an Amazon Lists type module, that allowed users to create lists of things like on Amazon, and get them in an RSS feed.

Ben also did a huge amount of outreach and networking for the “DigitalBicycle” project. He spoke on the New Media Distribution panel at the B&H Photo conference in NYC and at the Beyond Broadcast Conference.

Ben also created logos and graphics for “DigitalBicycle” using inkscape.






'DigitalBicycle' Online Communities Developer

Peter Bull
9/20049/2005

Peter Bull began his term of service at LTC in September 2004, and served for one year as LTC’s Online Communities Developer. In this role he led the development of the DigitalBicycle, a collaborative project sponsored by LTC and other partners including the CTC VISTA project.

Peter oversaw and directly implemented numerous aspects of the “DigitalBicycle” project, primarily focusing on developing a Drupal-based centralized web community that leverages the power of the distributed network but provides for efficient and usable group collaboration. This included planning the framework and workflow of the site, the setup and administration of the server, development and implementation of the code that powers the system, and preparation for the future expansion of the project as it moves from a beta project to having a working user base. In addition to developing the core web system, Peter worked with outside volunteers to develop the specification for a desktop publishing application called “Sprocket” and managed its development by outside programmers. Furthermore, Peter has spec’d out and begun development on a Linux-based client-side system, “KickStand”, which handles the automatic seeding and downloading of specified material and is designed to be used by participating organizations.

The fact of the matter is that the CTC VISTA program is directly responsible for where we are today with this project, ready to build capacity for organizations around the country. To get to this point we needed the full-time attention of a highly skilled programmer interested in working in a community-service setting. Not only would we have not been able to recruit someone at this level for this position without the CTC VISTA program, but in our current, pre-income generating phase we never would have been able to hire them. I have long felt that one of the primary strengths of the CTC VISTA program is how it empowers both the organization and the individual volunteer. The individual gains the opportunity to engage full-time on a project that is primed for growth but for which they might never be hired in a normal full-time capacity. The organization gains the opportunity to devote energies that might not otherwise be budgetable and if successful, build its own capacity to a point that it is able to hire an individual to continue the work started under the VISTA project. We are happy to report that this is exactly what happened at LTC.
Though we had high expectations when we were developing our work plan last year and recruiting a VISTA to accomplish it, Peter exceeded our expectations in every regard. While some of this was due to his accomplished background and well-developed skill set, it is mainly due to the fact that Peter worked extraordinarily hard and was as committed to this project as anyone could possibly be. Peter took the idea of 24-hour service quite seriously, working long hours at LTC and often late nights at home. Though frequently traveling on behalf of LTC he has established systems allowing him to continue development anywhere with a network connection. Beyond that, he’s been known to write code by hand on a legal pad when other options are not available. Peter has proven himself as an excellent VISTA and we anticipate that he will do the same as a VISTA supervisor this next year. We are extremely appreciative of Peter’s hard work and of the CTC VISTA project for providing us with the opportunity to grow our capacity so greatly in the past year. The CTC VISTA project is truly our most valuable partner in the DigitalBicycle collaboration and we will work to recognize it as such online and in person.






Software Engineer

David Siegal
8/20038/2004

1) Find, create, install, configure and maintain server based software.
2) Find, create and maintain server based documentation.
3) Test, code and document in support of open source projects.
4) Learn and teach software engineering and system administration.
5) Become familiar with the goals and needs of the organizations we serve.
6) Guide other workers (as needed)

David Siegal has worked to develop a template database to track client facility use for one of the Consortium partner agencies (UTEC) and modified and scripted form handlers that allow NPOs to collect online info.

David Siegal also switched the volunteer hour tracking database to a web-based client facility usage template.






Software Engineer

April Carvalho
8/20028/2004

1) Find, create, install, configure and maintain server based software.
2) Find, create and maintain server based documentation.
3) Test, code and document in support of open source projects.
4) Learn and teach software engineering and system administration.
5) Become familiar with the goals and needs of the organizations we serve.
6) Guide other workers (as needed)

I’ve run two more sessions of the “Intro to Web Forms” curriculum, which has been a success with the LCTC community. The only barrier to our success has been the lack of publicity in the course, which we are hoping to improve in future runnings. The advantage of having a set, web based curriculum is that another member can pick up this course and teach it without having to recreate the course from scratch.

After starting work on the UTEC project in the second quarter, our first web database application rolled out on April 16, 2003. This was a great opportunity to work with a Non profit that help us iron out our software development process and be enthusiastic with our end product. Since then we have made several major changes, including recreating the user interface to a more malleable design and adding functionality as the user requests.

Fellow Vista David Siegal and I have been working on this project as a team effort.

Recently I have been working on system administration tasks. One example is making our lab more available to volunteers, by ensuring that all workstations have the proper software. Once finished, our website designers can come in whenever they need to and use the latest software that we can provide them.






Technology Planning

Erik Milosevic
8/20038/2004

http://mvhub.com includes search-able directory of social service providers and the services that they provide. The principle advantage MVhub.com has over other sites is that dedicated staff is not required to keep the site up to date. The process for reminding organizations to update their records is largely automated.

Erik completed Leslie Koplow’s graphic design, worked with David Siegal on the search engine and worked with Felicia Sullivan in integrating a community calendar and tidying up various templates.

Erik also contributed to

- Completing Incremental Backups
- Refine Use of Visitors Reports
- Implement New Website Design
- Formstore Configuration File Generation
- Mapping Configuration File To An Array
- Webmail HVHUB Banners
- MOD_PERL

http://thecsl.org had a plain design emphasizing casual pictures of people in my old MCSE classes. Erik’s graphic redesign, while not so flashy as to be hard to use, has a smoother, more worldly look.

Other improvements to the look of our site included:
• the random display logos and pictures from our sponsors.
• A RSS feed from slashdot. (headlines)
• XHTML 1.0 compliance.






IT Support and Consulting

David Crist
8/20018/2003

• Work with Lowell Community Technology Consortium member sites to develop their technical support systems (i.e. documentation, system recovery, anti-virus updates, etc.)
• Visit Consortium member sites on a regular basis to train and coach on-site staff and volunteers in PC maintenance and support
• Encourage Consortium member sites to expand upon their current IT infrastructure and incorporate additional mechanisms (i.e. LANs, websites, integrated databases) into their day-to-day operations
• Organize and coordinate materials that represent “best practices” or model programs happening at various member sites while assisting in the documentation of current work

David has been providing support to LTC and other Consortium sites on an ongoing basis and has provided guidance to interns looking to build concrete hands - on skills.

In addition to providing technical support, David has also provided assistance and coordinated the purchase of equipment for Consortium partners engaged in media-education activities






CTC Support

Charlotte Crockford
8/20028/2003

• Provide supported open access to computer technology to a broad spectrum of the Lowell community (youth, seniors, immigrants)
• Provide training and tutoring to youth, senior citizens, and immigrant populations focussed on project-based, media-oriented uses of technology
• Provide technical support and help build the capacity of host sites to implement technology
• Assist in building, expanding and advocating for community uses of technology within the host site, particular and the larger Lowell community, in general

One of the most successful procedures that I implemented was to have all members and staff wear picture ID’s while in the facility. Since I had a little knowledge of digital photography it was easy for me to make the adjustments in our new database.

The second success story for me was to learn Facil database for non-profits and help teach the rest of the staff the functions of the database.This program is really great for the members because they now can reserve things in an orderly fashion and they get the feeling of being a greater part of the whole process. The community as a whole benefits from the installation of Facil.

My other accomplishments include mail server. I learned how to maintain the accounts on the e-mail server service and recently on our new list-server. I am now certified in Field Production. Who would have guessed.

I have managed to put up a web site, sparse as it may be, and to shoot and edit a thirty minute video for airing. The web site sort of took a back seat when I became involved in running a camera on a television show. My interest really peaked when staff members told me that I could do a show of my own. The patience and help of my co-workers enabled me to increase my knowledgeable in non linear editing. And with practice I am sure I’ll become proficient.






Website and Database Development

Kevin Loechner
11/200111/2002

The goals Kevin has been working on are:
1.Creating a strong network infrastructure that is affordable, stable and easy to manage for non-tech people.
2.Developing a website presence and plan for 3 local nonprofits.
3.Contributing to the development of a Computer Training book to teach Microsoft Office programs to adult learners. Progress has been made toward completing the Excel training.

In terms of capacity building, we have had the greatest success with goal 1. Kevin has been leading the project to transfer our network from a Windows to a Linux operating system, while training two staff members to be able to take on the technical duties when he leaves.

With regard to goal 2, the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Lowell site is essentially complete, although has not been launched due to decisions still to be made on the part of the club. Unfortunately, we fell short on this goal, which was to complete three sites by the end of Kevin’s term. . We hope to have Kevin create a template that can be used by other nonprofits that would like a website.

As a result of Kevin’s work on goal 3, we have a rough draft of the first part of a project based Excel training near completion, and hope to have the beta version done by Kevin’s departure.

We had two other goals Kevin was going to work on that we did not pursue. One was helping with the development of an information-interviewing library; the other was working on developing a volunteer program for the Lowell Community Technology Consortium.






Community Engagement

Kourtney Hamilton
11/200111/2002

As an Americorps*VISTA member, Kourtney
- learned how to produce a television show, from shooting in a studio to editing on a computer. She developed web design skills via the Lowell Community Technology Consortium web site;
- assisted in planning a medium-size conference (“Media, Technology, and Social Change: Broadening the Base; Building the Movement” held at UMass Boston);
- compiled a “Tech Access” guide, a resource booklet containing contact and class information about the 19 community technology centers of the Lowell Community Technology Consortium; and
- made contacts in the Lowell non-profit community and helped promote the Lowell Commuity Technology Consortium and Lowell Telecommunications Corporation

Although Kourtney has not followed her workplan very closely but filled in many additional tasks that are of interest and helpful to her center. Most of the tasks listed above were not origianlly outlined in the workplan, but went along with the general theme of her job. When members of the community are looking for technology access and education, they can easily refer to her guide. It can be updated and reprinted as necessary.






Technical Support

Dan MacNeil
9/20009/2002

Dan has been responsible for leading a crew of volunteers, interns and VISTAs working on creating central web-based services for nonprofits.

LTC and the Consortium expect that access to additional technical support and training personnel will result in increased access to computer technology for the community and increased efficiency within organizations through better and easier to-access expertise.

The VISTA member will work with members of the Consortium and the larger Lowell NPO community. The range of activities will vary from organization to organization. In general, VISTas will supervise public access computers, train the community in a wide assortment of computer applications, provide technical support, assist in the setup of new computer labs (including small LANs), and improve and support information systems (i.e., websites, databases, electronic mail, access to the Inernet). We do not expect that every VISTA will have all the necessary skills to accomplish these, but we would like to see the bringing together of a team of individuals that can support and build upon their individual strengths.

We’ve gotten the following new services working in production:

• DNS
• CVS
• SUEXEC
• samba (MS file serving domain controlling on Unix)

These service work in a test environment.
• calendering
• email w/ virus checking
• databases
• SSL
• automatic creation of test systems
• programmatic manipulation of images

We’ve done this additional work outside our charter:
• Trained 40 people in basic UNIX
• Kept the Mercier public access center open and staffed.
• Some other dinky stuff like cleaning up lowellhabitat.org

The SUEXEC project pretty well sums up our experience. It is essential for the future, yet not very incomprehensible to management and time consuming. Further, the available person to lead the project was smart and hardworking but completely inexperienced

Dan spent most of his Fridays and many Saturday’s this year working with a volunteer to get this project finished. It would have been quicker to do the work himself, but the volunteer benefited greatly from the experience and is eager to contribute more next summer.






Technical Support

Rickie Jackson
8/20018/2002

The VISTA member will work with members of the Consortium and the larger Lowell NPO community. The range of activities will vary from organization to organization. In general, VISTas will supervise public access computers, train the community in a wide assortment of computer applications, provide technical support, assist in the setup of new computer labs (including small LANs), and improve and support information systems (i.e., websites, databases, electronic mail, access to the Inernet). We do not expect that every VISTA will have all the necessary skills to accomplish these, but we would like to see the bringing together of a team of individuals that can support and build upon their individual strengths.






Technical Support

John Hunt
2/200012/2001

LTC and the Consortium expect that access to additional technical support and training personnel will result in increased access to computer technology for the community and increased efficiency within organizations through better and easier to-access expertise.

The VISTA member will work with members of the Consortium and the larger Lowell NPO community. The range of activities will vary from organization to organization. In general, VISTas will supervise public access computers, train the community in a wide assortment of computer applications, provide technical support, assist in the setup of new computer labs (including small LANs), and improve and support information systems (i.e., websites, databases, electronic mail, access to the Inernet). We do not expect that every VISTA will have all the necessary skills to accomplish these, but we would like to see the bringing together of a team of individuals that can support and build upon their individual strengths.






CTC Assistance

Isaias Rodriguez
12/200012/2001

The AmeriCorps VISTAs will work with members of the Consortium and the larger Lowell NPO community. The VISTAs will supervise public access to computers, train the community in a wide assortment of computer applications, provide technical support, assist in the setup of new computer labs, and improve and support information systems (like websites, databases, email). Overall, the Consortium wants to expand the computer resources available to the community and support the community’s ability to use these resources.






CTC Assistance

Raymond Riopelle
12/200012/2001

The AmeriCorps VISTAs will work with members of the Consortium and the larger Lowell NPO community. The VISTAs will supervise public access to computers, train the community in a wide assortment of computer applications, provide technical support, assist in the setup of new computer labs, and improve and support information systems (like websites, databases, email). Overall, the Consortium wants to expand the computer resources available to the community and support the community’s ability to use these resources.






CTC Assistance

Frank Allaby
10/200010/2001

The AmeriCorps VISTAs will work with members of the Consortium and the larger Lowell NPO community. The VISTAs will supervise public access to computers, train the community in a wide assortment of computer applications, provide technical support, assist in the setup of new computer labs, and improve and support information systems (like websites, databases, email). Overall, the Consortium wants to expand the computer resources available to the community and support the community’s ability to use these resources.






CTC Development

Terence Kennedy
11/2001

The VISTAs duties will include strategic planning, staff training, technical support, seeking funding, and providing computer access to the populations served.




Transmission Project