Volunteer Orientation Tours
- 1 Tours and Orientations
- 1.1 Starting
- 1.2 Background Education
- 1.3 Evaluation
- 1.4 Dismantling
- 1.5 Kitchen and Bathroom
- 1.6 The Mezzanine
- 1.7 The Store
Tours and Orientations
Orientation and tours are a very important part of Free Geek's day-to-day operations. They impart important safety information, both in a general sense and specific for each station. For this reason it is very important that the tours given are consistent.
Roundup the Newbies
When dealing with less than 10 people its generally best to round folks up in the kitchen. If a larger group arrives try to find a central location like receiving or outside in the loading bay if its nice out. While folks are waiting give them the Volunteer Database Intake Form to fill out, and the adoption package handout.
Begin the tour by introducing yourself, then begin a round of introductions encouraging folks to tell you why they are here so that you know what to focus on.
When explaining the background information of how and why Free geek came to be KEEP IT SIMPLE! If folks are interested in in-depth information let them know they can find it on our website or inside the educational handouts we give out.
How was Free Geek born?
Free Geek was founded in Portland in February of 2000 to recycle computer technology and provide low and no-cost computing to individuals and not-for-profit and social change organizations in the community and throughout the world.
Version 1.0 of Free Geek created a non-profit franchise model that has since been adopted by communities all over North America, there are 9 Free Geeks in the U.S. and one here (us) in Vancouver.
Why was Free Geek born?
The information technology revolution has had manifold benefits, but it has also given rise to two serious problems. Free Geek was founded as a result of Environmental and Social concerns.
First, computers manufactured today have a very short life cycle. Many computers are deemed obsolete within two years and discarded. In recent years, the Greater Vancouver Regional District has buried 20,000 tonnes of computer and electronic waste(e-waste) annually. Traditional methods for the disposal of computer equipment release dangerous toxins such as lead, chromium and mercury into the environment.
If treated properly, electronic waste (E-Waste) is a valuable source for secondary raw materials. However, if not treated properly, it is a major source of toxins and carcinogens. Rapid technology change, low initial cost and planned obsolescence have resulted in a fast growing problem around the globe. Electronic waste represents 2 percent of America's trash in landfills, but it equals 70 percent of overall toxic waste.
Due to lower environmental standards and working conditions,E-waste is often exported to developing countries. Markets for used electronics have expanded in China, India, Kenya, and elsewhere. Uncontrolled burning, disassembly, and disposal are causing environmental and health problems, including occupational safety and health effects among those directly involved, due to the methods of processing the waste.
Electronic waste is of concern largely due to the toxicity and carcinogenicity of some of the substances if processed improperly. Toxic substances in electronic waste may include lead, mercury and cadmium. A typical computer monitor may contain more than 4 pounds of lead. Up to thirty-eight separate chemical elements are incorporated into electronic waste items. The unsustainability of discarding electronics and computer technology is another reason for the need to recycle – or perhaps more practically, reuse – electronic waste.
Free Geek helps our communities take responsibility for our own waste instead of polluting our neighbors backyards. All of the recyclers we use are located in Canada or U.S. and meet the requirements of the Basel Action Network.
A second problem stems from the rapid advance of computer technology: because many people lack access to this technology, they are left behind, without basic computer skills. As technology becomes ever more pervasive, those without computers find it increasingly difficult to access opportunities from employment to communication.
The concept behind Free Geek is to use these two problems to solve each other. By sharing a little knowledge of computer mechanics, a significant portion of the electronic waste bound for landfills can be refurbished into working starter equipment for individuals and organisations who may not otherwise be able to buy these items. Volunteers are trained to help process the diverted computers for reuse or recycling, receiving one of the refurbished computers in exchange for their efforts. Ultimately, it is possible to safely recover over 99% of the materials in computer equipment through reuse and recycling, thereby greatly reducing e-waste's negative environmental impact.
The result is: computer equipment is re-used rather than discarded, while members in a variety of communities gain both valuable job skills, computers, and access to the opportunities afforded by technology. It is a win-win situation for everyone involved.
So what does Free Geek do?
Free Geek is a nonprofit community organisation that reduces the environmental impact of waste electronics by reusing and recycling donated technology. Through community engagement we provide education, job skills training, Internet access and free or low cost computers to the public.
Generally, when I [Adam] give tours, I follow the path the hardware takes. I start in the warehouse by giving a review of what hardware is acceptable and not acceptable. I explain where our outbound recycles are going (Provincial program, or shipped to our own vetted recyclers) and use this opportunity to mention BAN and the importance of not contributing to the e-waste nightmare. Then I continue with monitor testing and a talk about the volumes of donations we receive, and why we can't keep every good working monitor [Adam: I start with monitor testing because it is a one-stop place. They can see everything from the beginning to the end all in one place]. Then we talk about how most of the good hardware is given out to other non-profit and community groups in the form of hardware grants, as well as mentioning the adoption program.
At this stage I'll wander towards Eval 1, and begin talking about the various evaluations that happen on the systems as they proceed through volunteer hands. I explain that eval 1 is a triage station, setup so that volunteers with no computer knowledge can, with a little training, easily filter out any potential cream for further evaluation. Eval 2 is next, here I explain that this is where we really do the wheat/chaff separation. We get the machines booted, and write down on the computer what kind of- and speed of processor we are dealing with.
Anything that has failed the evaluation stations (after it has been verified by a staff member) goes to dismantling. This is one of the things that sets Free Geek apart from many other recyclers, in that we strip the computers down into all of their component parts, making sure each part is recycled correctly. The purpose of this station is to separate the motherboard and other potentially valuable materials from the case and plastic and other not-so-valuable recyclables. The motherboards are then cleaned of any additions (CPU's and heat sinks, RAM/Cache chips, CMOS and other batteries), each being collected with like in the appropriate sized container.
Kitchen and Bathroom
I use this time to point out the kitchen and bathroom locations, because we are in the same general area now and pointing them out is an easy thing. All eating is to be done in the kitchen and it can be used as a 'chill out' or rest room as well, if the operations are overwhelming.
Next on the tour is the 'Mezz. This is where all the parts that have been pulled out by evaluation and dismantle are tested and if necessary built back into new computers. Parts that come up here are further sorted and then tested at various stations (Video card, hard drive, ram). Can also talk about Printer and other "floating" testing now as well. Then we talk about building, and putting these various bits back together. I'll restate that most of the building is being done for hardware grants and to feed the adoption program, and mention that we do have a thrift store that sells hardware as well.
Then I take the tour downstairs, and finish it in the store and server room.