Barry’s Reflections

  • People can make the world a better place and technology can help – 07/27/2017 Recently, I was taking a walk through a residential neighborhood, and I spotted an envelope with a stamp on it in the middle of the street. I picked up an empty envelope for a wedding invitation response.
    Fifteen feet away, another cluster of papers were on the side of the road. I picked up a wedding invitation …
  • After Net Inclusion: AFTRR 06/16/2017 With the glow from the second Net Inclusion Summit in May starting to fade, last week we found ourselves on the road again, this time to the first national AFTRR meeting in Pittsburgh.
    AFTRR, which stands for Alliance for Technology Refurbishing and Reuse, is an organization sponsored by Cristina Foundation to serve as a voice …
  • Keeping Organized – 05/04/2017 Modern life is complicated. While I frequently appreciate that I don’t have to spend all day providing food, water, and the basic necessities of life for myself and my family, I do sometime find that managing the multitude of tasks to be done on any given day a bit overwhelming. I know that I’m not …
  • Now we are Two – 03/19/2017 It has been two years since we started Partners Bridging the Digital Divide, and it has certainly been an exciting time to be immersed in digital inclusion. There has been a growing movement to work together, and we have been involved in some of these efforts at the city, state and national levels.
    We have 19 …
  • Invigorating Meetings- 02/21/2017 There is nothing like energetic conversation of motivated people to help pull me back into focus. For the last month or two, I’ve sometimes found it hard to focus on increasing digital inclusion. There’s been so much to worry about in our society, trying to protect the rights and wellbeing of many people under assault, …
  • Creative Endeavors to Heighten Awareness- 01/06/17 For most of the last ten years, Katherine and I have participated in National Novel Writing Month, an organized effort to encourage people to write a fifty thousand word novel during the month of November. A number of the works have been published and are available at KatherineLato.com
    After several years of adhering to the original intent, …
  • How I spend my time- 12/5/16 Friends ask how I spend my time now that I’m retired. Or they hear that I’m running a non-profit as a volunteer, and ask how much time I spend on it.
    My standard answer is between fifteen and twenty hours a week on PBDD. But the objective reality varies from that. At times, it feels like …
  • Interconnecting Communities – 11/7/16 It’s a rewarding feeling when I’ve been involved in a range of diverse activities, and then they all come together at once. This happened for me in the last week of October.
    But to explain, I have to start with the individual threads, which in their own right were the result of connections being made. But …
  • Successful first fundraiser – 10/21/2016 Last night was PBDD’s first fundraiser, Laughing Matters, and it was a success on all fronts. Thank you to those who helped organize it and to everyone who came out to support us and the People’s Resource Center. Following is the content of my talk describing PBDD.
    I started volunteering with the People’s Resource Center about seven …
  • Another new experience – 08/26/2016 Ever since starting PBDD, I’ve confronted new experiences: starting a non-profit, running board meetings, being my own boss, promoting our cause to strangers.
    And now, it’s time for another one: hosting a fund-raiser.
    To date, PBDD has been living within our means, surviving on contributions from the board and from friends and colleagues who heard of our efforts and …
  • Strengthening Partnerships – 07/05/2016 In the fifteen months of PBDD’s existence, we have seen a tremendous amount of activity and movement. This blog post highlights some recent as well as anticipated changes.
    We started by sending queries to existing refurbishing agencies, and a few brave organizations read the description of what we were hoping to achieve and signed up with us. …
  • Keep working hard, but be patient – 05/27/2016 Last week, I joined hundreds of my colleagues from nonprofits, libraries, industry and the public sector at the Net Inclusion Summit 2016 to share and discuss issues related to digital inclusion. A full trip report will be coming, but I wanted to share my personal perspective on one topic which really struck home with me.
    It was a …
  • What’s this Lifeline All About? – 04/30/2016 (updated 5/5) One of our Facebook readers asked for an explanation of what the recent FCC Lifeline ruling means. While I’m not an expert, I’ll do my best to provide a high-level summary. When the Lifeline program was launched, the FCC identified the telephone as a lifeline to the outside world. Today,  such connectivity also requires data access to the Internet.
    Since …
  • Unexpected Offers – 03/08/2016 Sometimes, you’re walking along in life, and there’s an unexpected surprise. It could be finding a five dollar bill on an empty street, or a bakery on a street where you didn’t expect one, or a beautiful flower poking up through a crack in the pavement.
    Or sometimes, it comes from another person- a suggestion to …
  • Happy Anniversary – 02/11/2016 One year ago today (February 11 2015), I filed articles of incorporation as a non-profit with the State of Illinois. By all measures I think that it has been a good year.
    With the anniversary, I find myself scheduling a second pass of things I did a year ago. In a way, it feels odd to have …
  • Being a part of something larger – 01/20/2016 Community is important. I don’t remember being taught this, at least not explicitly. But as a child I knew I was part of a family, part of a community.
    As I grew, I found myself part of  groups that hung out together. It wasn’t until I moved to a new city with a new job that I …
  • Extending digital connections to Real Life – 11/18/2015 This month, I had the opportunity to attend the Electronics Reuse Conference in New Orleans. It was good to have the chance to learn what the conference is like, associate faces with names that I’d come to know, and hear about the topics on the minds of people in the refurbishing industry.
    One personal highlight for …
  • Serendipity -10/19/2015 Planning is important, but sometimes you can’t beat good luck.
    When the National Digital Inclusion Alliance was launched earlier this year, PBDD joined, and I subscribed to the mailing list. It has been a pleasure to follow the progress, and to participate in our small way in its efforts to bring home and public broadband access to everyone.
    The announcement …
  • Thankful for … lawyers? – 10/02/2015 I know that lawyers get a lot of grief, sometimes deservedly so.
    But, there is a time and place where they are most welcome, and for this month, it is in helping us preclude trouble with state bureaucracies with regard to solicitation of funds.
    I understand that the state has a role in regulating and registrating organizations within …
  • Helping an independent cuss- 8/17/15 For almost as long as I can remember, I’ve liked my independence. As a child, I astounded my parents and cousins when I walked five and a half miles to a cousin’s house. In retrospect, I’m surprised I didn’t get lost, but that’s a different topic, for another day.
    As an undergraduate, I majored in Mathematics, …
  • Behaving like a non-profit – 7/6/15 Becoming a nonprofit and behaving like a nonprofit are two different things. Becoming a non-profit involves filling out forms and committing to a mission, including not making a profit. Having worked in industry for 30 plus years, it seems that avoiding making a profit is a trivial task. However, there’s much more to being a …
  • Much more to do – 6/13/15 So, now that we’re open for business, what do we do next?
    If I was running a business, I would be trying to bring in customers and waiting to serve them. For PBDD, we want to add partners, work to meet their needs, and to increase the visibility of our organization.
    One exciting thing I’ve learned about …
  • Open for Business – 5/17/15 At some point in any enterprise, the preliminary work is done and you’re open for business. The non-profit I’ve started, PBDD (Partners Bridging the Digital Divide) has reached that point.
    The paperwork is completed with respect to the state of Illinois and the federal government as a 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation.
    Our website is up with the ability …
  • Making progress in multiple dimensions – 4/19/15 When people talk about progress, moving toward a goal, they usually speak in terms of  a single dimension: starting point and destination. For me, these words are inadequate. I’m not going from one point to another, trying to plot the optimal route between them. Instead, I started at a single point, and I’m trying to …
  • The Benefits of a Bureaucracy – 3/30/15 Often, the paperwork necessary to perform certain steps in accordance with state and federal regulations can be a burden. But when you’re starting a new venture, feeling your way through each step and taking the steps that you think are right, it’s nice to get occasional confirmation, that you are doing some things “right”, according …
  • Internet for All – 3/13/15 To address the digital divide, in addition to access to hardware and training, access to the Internet is a key component.
    There is an organization in Calfornia working to demand that the Federal Communications Commission (FCC)  require Comcast to improve and expand its affordable home Internet service if it approves the proposed merger with Time Warner.
    On …
  • Finding My Way – 2/12/15 I knew when I started this venture that it would be unfamiliar territory. For over thirty-two years, I had been an engineer in a company, with well-defined roles and reporting structure. Now, I’m on my own, doing what I think is helpful, and talking to people when I find them and hope that they’re willing …
  • Getting Started – 1/17/15 Late last year, my employment was terminated after thirty years in the computer/communication industry. This didn’t come as a complete shock, and I’ve had the chance to consider for a while what I would do next when my time came.
    Over the last five years, I have been volunteering with the Peoples Resource Center, teaching classes …