kaigou: And now I, chaos butterfly, shall flap my wings and destroy the world! (2 chaos butterfly)
[personal profile] kaigou
So I work with a local NFP every year for its one big festival. It's a one-day outdoors event that's got various contests for kids, plus food/retail vendors, and sponsors, and whatnot, and it's pretty much a local (and national) institution, now. Without going too much into RL nitty, I'm just going to summarize an idea I had a few months ago & finally talked the NFP into trying.

This past year, the NFP hired an event manager (who does this stuff professionally) and he's really whipped a lot of things into shape. Like, getting properly-sized and -powered intercom system so you can actually hear announcements. (Who's on the field, alerts about lost children, etc.)

At the 2012 event, I was taking pictures for the NFP's website, and in the course of about three hours, I overheard Spanish, Hindi, Arabic, Korean, Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, French, and what I think might've been Urdu, as well as several other languages I didn't recognize. (I had no idea we have a large Armenian population, too.) I live in a hugely diverse American city, and everyone comes out for this festival. (Which is also free, btw, hence the need for sponsors.)

Anyway, so I got to thinking about the fact that if this festival were in, say, France, I might be able to get some of what's said on the intercom. But I'd also be like, "what? what did they say?" a lot, too, because it's hard to parse a language when you're not perfectly fluent and there's so much else going on and people are talking. Not to mention we have a major School for the Deaf in town, and they're being left out completely.

So I got this idea to incorporate twitter into the existing wp site, maybe as sidebars, that would repeat in written-format the main field announcements. Oh, and a second twitter stream for parking/shuttle announcements. Oh, and maybe we should do a third for crowd control (where vendor lines are shorter, lost children alerts, etc). And then I started thinking, if we're doing it in English, we should do it in Spanish. And Korean, and Cantonese, and Japanese, and Armenian, and Hindi, and Arabic... oh, my.

And then I realized that since I've got a database of the vendors, I could make it a mobile site that incorporates vendor information. Like the vendor menus, on the site, and include whether a vendor's vegetarian or gluten-free or has pork, etc. For the folks (especially parents) trying to figure out what's okay for dietary restrictions for themselves & their kids.

Part of the problem is that this does cost money, because the park will absolutely require temporary cell tower coverage. I still can't find out how much COWs (cells on wheels, I love that) cost, but rough estimates have been around 2K each, maybe. (Unfortunately, we have one media sponsor who'd be very happy to put up a COW, but only for their platform, which means me on AT&T would get no signal. Apparently the only way to get signal for everyone is general COW, which means sponsor who isn't already a cellular carrier, since sponsors don't like competition also being sponsors, sheesh.)

The other part is that several communities are willing to provide translators (yay!) but then we'll need laptops for them, so the translators can send out tweets/posts real-time. Laptops add up, and barring a tech firm willing to just loan us a dozen laptops for the day, we'd have to find money for that, too. Some restaurants might advertise as bottom-banners, which would help defray, but that still won't pay for everything when you add in the COWs.

And, of course, the design. Since usability -- across all these languages -- and the localization/languages is a crucial part, the mobile site will need design expertise. It seemed to take like forever and a day of calling around, but I did finally find a local company willing to go the extra mile & see this as something to do in NFP-friendly stages, who thought the inclusive/multilingual part was not just good but awesome. Finally! No, really: I called like fifteen local tech firms and agencies and every single one was all, "social media? in different languages? that seems like an awful lot of trouble" as though it's just too much of a burden to allow for anyone that doesn't have perfect hearing and is also perfectly fluent in English. But this one little company is willing to do it in stages, except they don't have angel/investor, so they can't pro bono their work (though they're willing to discount to some degree).

So, hmm.

Anyway, this weekend, I was thinking about what we're trying to do here, which got me onto thinking about the Ada initiative, and the fact that I live only like a mile (or less, as the crow flies) from the state HQ for the Girl Scouts. What if I invited girl scouts to be part of the design/dev for the mobile site (with review & testing, natch, not making anyone leap off a short pier) -- as one of the STEM badges that girl scouts can get now? And talk the mobile app firm into treating the girl scouts as interns, and mentoring them? (I have a strong sense based on convos so far that the little agency would be way amenable to this.)

I like the idea of using the project as a way to a) get girls into a major attention-getting project that's also b) got a huge emphasis on how the web (especially social media) can be used to make things more inclusive and c) has a nice added complexity for the ambitious programmers willing to learn WP's localization parts.

Alright, assuming any girl scouts would be willing to join in, I'm not sure how I can pay for any/all of this. Between design/dev time, the onsite costs during the festival itself, and the COWs, it's not a small amount. I'm estimating probably around 20-25K, all told. Yeah, I know it'd be chump change to someone like Dell or TE or HP but none of them seem to be leaping at the idea, either. (If you're wondering, I'm in that amount, too, since I can't afford to do this completely for free, though I do give the NFP a severe discount on my usual contract rates.)

Like I said, most sponsors seem to think the very idea is kind of...well, no one's come right out and called it "silly" but, it's kind of been there in their voices. Meanwhile, the Urdu/Arabic population and especially the Japanese population in town are besides themselves with joy, but they're NFPs too, so they don't have the money to throw around, either.

So I'm tossing it out (with apologies for the generalizing in terms of RL details) for any of the wise brains on my flist/dwirlce, in case anyone has ideas or suggestions. Is there a specific grant, or a foundation, or even a for-profit company that's known for encouraging projects like this one, that we could turn to? Does anyone know if this might qualify for someone else's project/goal of sponsoring girl-led, girl-created, web/tech, or sponsoring accessible, inclusive, web/tech in general? Uh, anything?

I know all ya'll have tons of brains, whether or not you're tech/STEM yourself. I've been seeing the bottom line a little too long, I think, and feeling kind of downbeat over the seeping privilege of yet another potential partner acting like the multilingual element is really just too ambitious and nice idea but "how many people would really use it, anyway" blah blah blah. I'd like to find a way to treat this as a girl scout (or any STEM-focused "get the girls interested young" kind of group) project along the ideas of the Ada initiative, but still. Bills gotta be paid, which means finding sponsor. Any ideas? Anyone?

Date: 30 Oct 2012 04:29 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
I think this is an awesome idea.

Timing is important. An awful lot of charity-granting angel-type projects are on an annual grant cycle. You'll need to have a time frame when you'll need to get how much money, to see if you can wrangle grant proposals in enough time for the dev part, not just the actual event. You may end up being the person pulling together grant proposals, which includes proving how effective it could be.

It would be a really good idea to talk to the Girl Scouts HQ folks too (I couldn't tell if you already had), I know some of the older more advanced badges involve development of projects like this, doing your own work. They'll have fundraising ideas and they may be able to recruit girls who are native speakers (always a great idea for working with the computer dev end long before issues crop up live.)

Beyond that, there's crowd-sourcing to get the funding, such as Kickstarter.
Edited Date: 30 Oct 2012 04:30 am (UTC)

Date: 31 Oct 2012 01:59 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
Question here, couldn't recall if you'd already covered this, and my brain is fried--for a major event like this, don't they want extra COWS in the area anyway?

Date: 31 Oct 2012 02:31 am (UTC)
nagasvoice: lj default (Default)
From: [personal profile] nagasvoice
Hmm. I'm wondering if there's time to dangle the possibility of rental of access to other carriers. Dunno if you already floated this one?
I know some of the carriers essentially rent their entire function from others, acting more like a broker. Why wouldn't the Time-Warner-related company want a chance at extra surcharges?
Edited Date: 31 Oct 2012 02:32 am (UTC)

Date: 30 Oct 2012 06:30 am (UTC)
soukup: Coyolxauhqui scratching her chin with text "ORLY?" (ORLY?)
From: [personal profile] soukup
Hmm. Does your NFP have anything whatsoever to do with the arts? If so, PM me.

Date: 30 Oct 2012 05:48 pm (UTC)
tiercel: (Default)
From: [personal profile] tiercel
One of my coworkers has some thoughts; I'm sending her email address via private message.

Date: 17 Dec 2012 02:39 am (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
I'm sorry this is coming so late; I don't know how I missed this when you posted it. Have you already looked at Mozilla as a funder? They LOVE teaching kids (especially girls) how to make the web (see Hackasaurus).

Date: 17 Dec 2012 02:50 am (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
I find it perhaps disproportionately annoying when public-facing groups *don't answer their calls & emails*. Glargh! And if you ever need to contact Mozilla and don't get a response from a public-facing address there, ping me and I shall put you in touch with some folks personally.

Incidentally, you might like to pass this post around -- a bunch of open-sourcey-do-gooder organizations (both nonprofit and for-profit) are hiring tech folks right now, and for many of them remote work is fine. That same group of orgs might be good to hit up for grants, this year or next. If there's a specific Wikimedia angle (say, ensuring you're teaching all these girls to edit Wikipedia or contribute photos to Commons or start messing around with MediaWiki), you could also check out the zillion different ways to get Wikimedia-related grants.

And one more site to know about if you get into massive translation/localisation: https://translatewiki.net/

Date: 17 Dec 2012 10:29 am (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
OK! So, here are organizations that care about similar things and might want to team up with you in some way (including financially):

  • Code For America has tools for organizers like you, and helped develop a directory of civic apps you might want to browse. I don't see a specific grantmaking program mentioned on CfA's site, but it would rock if you got one of their fellowships to let you work on this fulltime. :-)

  • Awesome Foundation gives out USD$1000 grants and the application process looks pretty lightweight. I skimmed their blog and saw they'd given out grants to Maker Faire organizers, studenty things, and citizenshippy things. So your project sounds like a good bet.

  • Open Society Foundation -- I imagine they'd either want to award the grant to the Girl Scouts or have you as a fellow.

  • The Stumptown Syndicate and the municipality of Portland care a lot about open source technology, community, and education. I believe it's Stumptown people who made the Calagator event calendar webapp, and Stumptown folks work on the fantastic Open Source Bridge conference and its open conferenceware webapp. So, they already love stuff similar to this technologically, and sponsor women-who-code nights. The city itself likes to use and make open source software for, like, transit stuff. I don't know whether Stumptown or the city have ever done grants outside Portland but they might at least be able to give you advice.

  • IBM is doing many various things (City Forward, the Smarter Cities Challenge, etc.), but I don't know whether there's any grantmaking they do that's small enough for what you need. But it is probably worth skimming.

BTW I checked out Living Cities, OpenPlans, and O'Reilly and none of them seem suitable for your needs.

And along the way I noticed some posts about community planning/design tools that you might find interesting: 1, 2, 3.

Hope this is useful.

Date: 17 Dec 2012 11:12 am (UTC)
brainwane: My smiling face, including a small gold bindi (Default)
From: [personal profile] brainwane
I just reread your post more carefully and saw:

this one little company is willing to do it in stages, except they don't have angel/investor, so they can't pro bono their work (though they're willing to discount to some degree).

Because so many of these programs are about granting money to nonprofits or individuals, there may need to be some kind of financial arrangement where the money gets granted to a 501(c)3 org (the Girl Scouts) and then disbursed to that little tech company. Alternately, you could check whether your city or state has a public-private partnerships liaison who could broker stuff. Blergh, difficulties.


kaigou: this is what I do, darling (Default)
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