Expansionist Free Geek

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This page left for historical purposes. -- Mkille 20:54, 10 May 2013 (UTC)

How it addresses the meta question

Just to recap, the meta question is: How big should Free Geek get?

In reading the mission statement...

   FREE GEEK is a 501(c)(3) not for profit community organization that recycles used technology 
to provide computers, education, internet access and job skills training to those in need in exchange for community service.

...Expansionist Free Geek makes sense as a scenario. Because as long as there are more computers that need recycling and more people who need them Free Geek has got work to do. The answer to the meta question would seem to be, yes, Free Geek should grow until it meets its demand-- in Portland and beyond.


We are in a position to propagate new FGs proactively and to support existing FGs in new ways. Consider a scenario in which we expand by increasing our support for other FGs to get them to maturity so that they can also contribute to Free Geek Intergalactic (FGI). We can think of our years of experience and of FGI as our infrastructure. The more mature FGs we have, the faster the rate of propagation, the more funding and the greater our intellectual resources. More mature FGs could mean an FGI that will be better able to respond to the problems of its members, for example changes to state recycling laws and to the financial problems encountered by one Free Geek or another.

With the exception of a small few, the FGs in FGI are struggling to secure grant money that they can use to rent a space that isn't in someone's home and to hire staff. Their primary need at this point is start-up money. And grant-writing is a service that our volunteers might be able to provide.

Possible strategies

Here is a possible game plan if we took an expansionist approach:

  1. We could form a small group that researches and proposes possible cities/regions for new FGs to be propagated and new ways for existing FGs to grow, or implement a "Free Geek Meta-Build" volunteer program that works to the same effect. Volunteers could have a hand in researching and planning new Free Geeks or collaborate with volunteers in other FGs remotely.
  2. Once we have done preliminary research on a city/region we then send a media package to news networks in that city/region to drum up support for starting a FG there. Interested parties from that area would contact us. With their help we can evaluate the demand for a FG there. The media package would include general information about recycling and digital divide issues and could be customized easily to include numbers and examples relevant to our target city/region.
  3. If there is demand in that area and volunteers come forward we work with them to find a site based on whatever criteria we all think reasonable: cheap rent, wealth disparity, etc. We work with them to create a budget, write the preliminary grants, and get the FG started. Local volunteers will be valuable at the planning stage because they know more about and live in the target area. Distributing work to local volunteers will allow us to support multiple propagation projects.


  1. What has been the discussion, if any, about aggressive expansion besides what's on this page?
  2. How do we determine the specific criteria for deciding propagation locations listed below? For example, how do we figure out how much e-waste is generated in an area and how many people need computers?

Propagation Criteria

There would be many criteria for deciding the best location for a new Free Geek, including:

  • Need
    • Wealth disparity, i.e. people who don't have computers
    • Environmental concerns (high levels of dumping e-waste)
  • Grant availability
  • Cheap rent
  • Livability (we're planning on sending a live human being there)

Resource diversion

How much money would we spend on non-Mothership Free Geek's?


Would we make deals with them that they give us big kickbacks in exchange for our startup support? (Say... 10% gross ad infinitum?)

The Bumbershoot

What is this mythical creature known as The Bumbershoot? Would it be democratically elected? Would it have a physical location, or just a PO Box like so many other-worldly beings?