Technology Capacity Coordinator

VISTA Name: 
Stewart Blair
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

As the Digital Presenting Coordinator, our VISTA member will work with the Media Archive and Web Team to improve the Appalshop’s capacity to digitally present its history, work, and issue-based campaigns to diverse internet audiences. Presentations will consist of text, visuals, audio, and video files. Specific tasks include:

- Devising a method and/or template for creating web-based digital media
- Training Appalshop staff, community members, and youth to make digital
presentations of their own work
- Developing a plan and infrastructure for uploading presentations to web and
distributing presentations to multiple,diverse audiences; plan/infrastructure
should emphasize use of new networking/technology tools like YouTube and MySpace
- Creating an introductory webpage for Appalshop’s Film Division that includes
articles, interviews, and audio and video pieces about Appalshop Films’ history
and current work
- Using work from Appalshop’s Media Archive to create issue- or topic-specific web
presentations and distributing them to key, yet diverse, web audiences

All web presentations will support Appalshop’s mission to involve the people of Appalachia in the representation of their culture, traditions, and stories.

Project Outcome: 

Stewart Machlyn Blair was successful in integrating web 2.0 strategies into Appalshop’s training programs and building advanced technology learning opportunities for advanced youth so they could continue to contribute to Appalshop’s overall work as a non-profit media arts and education center. Blair also was successful in initiating and testing digital delivery services, contributing to building the databases necessary to implement digital delivery.

One of the difficulties Blair faced was organizing his time among different responsibilities. This challenge was recognized early in his service and we developed more pro-active mentorship that seemed to help.

Impact Quote: 

Blair greatly increased our capacity to provide technology and media education training and access in an area where there are few opportunities for young people or adults to gain media/technology literacy, and use these new tools to participate in their communities.”
- Rebecca O’Doherty, supervisor

Program Development Coordinator

VISTA Name: 
Marisol Guzman
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

The Corps member will help develop a model for volunteer-led media clubs for low-income girls in the rural outlying areas near El Paso.

The Corps member would manage a pilot test of the volunteer-led module, provide trainings and technical support to volunteer club leaders, gather feedback from club leaders, revise club leader manuals and procedures, build on our curriculum to add advanced lessons for high school students, recruit new leadership team members, and build the infrastructure for our leadership team.

CTC Assistance

Open Spaces CTC
VISTA Name: 
Ethan Molitch-Hou
Program Start: 
Program End: 
Project Description: 

The first half of Ethan’s term was spent generating community interest in learning technology and helping community members develop the confidence to learn more. The second half of the term was focused on expanding that interest to self-study and home use, and to continue the access to learning. During the course of the year, over 130 users were involved in introductory computer classes, logging roughly 1400 user hours. Among other things, these classes built community capacity, a cadre of volunteers, and led Big Bend Community College (BBCC) to develop partnerships and open new computer labs in Mattawa and Royal City.

Ethan visited a CTC nearby in Kennewick that worked on getting refurbished computers into the homes. They taught him that labs were not enough to get sufficient technology access to our students on a more consistent basis and that real progress for most students was dependent on there being computers in the home. The RECA Foundation in Kennewick became our resource for refurbished computers. Ethan was able to get computers into many of the students’ homes in Royal City and Mattawa. The computers are geared more towards families and give kids a basis for learning. They have security in place to prevent major problems from occurring to the operating system. The major drawback with these computers is that they do not allow changes to the system and are not configured for use of the Internet. However, as a beginning computer for families, they are perfect because they aren’t susceptible to viruses; as students become more comfortable with the computers, they can later invest in one that is Internet-ready. In the meantime, Internet access and ESL software remains available in the community labs.

Project Outcome: 

Ethan helped bring much needed training to four very small rural communities in Central Washington. Bi-lingual computer training was made available to hundreds of predominantly monolingual Spanish-speaking Hispanic agricultural workers and their families. Students were able to take advantage of their abilities to learn the technology quickly, accessing information as well as learning ESL and other skills. Young and old were able to learn together and the volunteer base grew. As more and more young students begin coming in, we are able to take advantage of their abilities to learn the technology quickly. We allowed them to teach each other as they naturally seemed to do. The labs in Mattawa and Royal City developed a sense of community, as people of all ages worked simultaneously and without fear in asking for help from one another.

The development of skills and confidence that was nurtured in the community labs led to more individual commitment to purchase computers for home use. As a result, these communities not only have new community labs, but a group of adults and children who are able to continue to deepen their knowledge and use of computers at home.

Different frames of media justice

There are many wonderful threads to pull from “Media Justice Through the Eyes of Local Organizers”, a field report from the Funding Exchange Media Justice Fund that came out in September, 2009. In addition to analyzing the different frames groups may approach media and communications justice from, they also make clear that there can be no one-size-fits-all approach:


Whitesburg, KY

Appalshop, founded in 1969 as a War on Poverty program, is a non-profit multi-disciplinary arts and education center in the heart of Appalachia producing original films, video, theater, music and spoken-word recordings, radio, photography, multimedia, and books.

Our goals are to enlist the power of education, media, theater, music, and other arts:
* to document, disseminate, and revitalize the lasting traditions and contemporary creativity of Appalachia;
* to tell stories the commercial cultural industries don’t tell, challenging stereotypes with Appalachian voices and visions;
* to support communities’ efforts to achieve justice and equity and solve their own problems in their own ways;
* to celebrate cultural diversity as a positive social value; and
* to participate in regional, national, and global dialogue toward these ends.

Project Description: 

Appalshop has identified the development of our online communication as the key project to address to raise our organizational capacity. Specifically focused on our innovative criminal justice national dialogue project ( we intend to: 1) measure the strengths and weakness of our organization and network partner’s communication capacity through face-based research and sharing, 2) improve intra and inter- regional communication around pressing social and economic issues , 3) develop a new platform of communication beyond current practices, and 4) create community pride and investment in Appalachia by challenging stereotypes and letting people tell their own story in their own way.

Specifically, the backbone of building our online communication capacity is the implementation of a relationship management system, CRM, for tracking and communicating with our partners, constituents and contacts. Training staff in the use of the CRM, creating institutional best practices, migrating current contacts into the new system, and setting up internal and external processes to fully utilize this new technology our are goals for the first phase of implementation. This project would expand our ability to communicate with our community, increasing the impact and reach of our programs. In addition to the CRM, we envision the online communication project developing a monthly email newsletter, increasing the number of updates to our website, and exploring innovative ways to migrate content from our daily work (audio, video, image, and text) to our emerging online community.

Appalshop has been granted a free CRM account from the Sales Force. In 2009 our current VISTA trained staff in the use of SaleForce, migrated a ‘test batch” into SalesForce, and has begun developing an implementation plan. Building on our current VISTA’s work, along with a team members from across the organization, the VISTA would take the lead in implementing the first phase of SF, using Sales Force’s online learning tools, identify the key programs applicable to our needs, and lead the staff through taking the courses and subsequent discussions to enhance learning. The key goals in the first phase of developing our CRM are: to work with our web design firm to connect Sales Force’s online forms to our website and email accounts, create a process for entering leads and contacts, develop email templates for communication, and customize SalesForce to fit our organization structure and needs. We anticipate the VISTA member convening meetings, tracking goals, and looking for opportunities to raise the capacity of our staff and community participants in the use of technology that moves our organizational goals forward. Specifically we intend to do an “assets survey” to evaluate and codify existing opportunities and content being produced through our education, radio, artistic, and community development work that could be migrated into engaging web content.

In early 2008 Appalshop began a consultancy with the Doris Duke Foundation/EMC2 to explore new innovations within the arts and community development. Appalshop’s leadership has identified the development of our database, online presence, social networking sites, and communication strategies as the pressing organizational priority. Expanding our communication capacity will increase the effectiveness of our work, garner more community participants, expanding our individual donor base, and allow us to use our staff time more efficiently. In late April 2009, key Appalshop staff will take part in a week long retreat to work with a technology consultant and organization planning expert to map our future steps in creating stronger communication and online strategies. A VISTA member will bring needed support at a crucial moment in our process.

Appalshop’s education and community work (community radio, theater, youth media, internet, and film making) addresses pressing social issues ranging from rural health issues to exploring the U.S. criminal justice system. At the heart of our artistic production is the belief that low-income communities have the knowledge and experience to find the solutions to problems in their own ways. Developing our online, database, and communication capacity will allow Appalshop to add breadth and depth to its work.

Appalshop’s programmatic work strives to involve community participants at every level of the organization’s process. Developing our online community and communication capacity will deepen our participation base, heighten our impact, and expand our possibilities for partnerships across the programmatic divisions of our institution. We anticipate an increased involvement from rural youth, low-income participants, traditional musicians, and stake-holders in the pressing social, economic, and environmental issues facing the central Appalachian region.

Project Tangibles: 
Appalshop is a member of several regional and national organizations that directly represent the field of community arts centers. (NAMAC, Alternate ROOTS, and NFCB) Annually, Appalshop presents, panels, and screens at dozens of field related conferences and convenings. We intended to document the process of the project, develop a short case study report, and share our experiences and findings through both presentations and field related publications. We envision a blog documenting our experiences that shares links to relevant information regarding our development of a CRM database, communication strategies, and organization development.
Transmission Project