Technicity Times
    Issue 3• June 2003

TecsChange - Over Ten Years of "Technology for Social Change"

By Aram Falsafi and Betsy Rueda Gynn

TecsChange-Technology for Social Change came about in the early 1990s at a Computers and Social Change conference held in Boston. A group of conference attendees came together to discuss using technology to promote progressive social change, primarily through assistance to grassroots organizations - women's groups, trade unions, and peasant organizations - in the developing world. This group, wishing to continue their work beyond the conference, founded TecsChange in 1992. Some of the founders had already been involved with grassroots activism; others saw the potential of technology in general, and computers in particular, to promote sustainable development, human rights, and social justice in the developing world

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TecsChange's first projects were focused on Latin America and southern Africa. When a number of South African anti-apartheid activists visited Boston in the summer of 1992, TecsChange volunteers created a customized computer-training course for them. TecsChange also organized public events on the uses of technology in the developing world. In the fall of 1992, thanks to a truckload of donated computers from Lotus Development Corporation, TecsChange started its computer repair program, donating the refurbished computers to grassroots organizations in the developing world.


In 1997, TecsChange decided to teach the skills that they had gained in computer recycling with residents from low-income neighborhoods of Boston. TecsChange's computer repair course emerged, where participants work on refurbishing computers and upon graduation, earn a computer that they have worked on. With well over 350 graduates to date, it has been a highly successful endeavor, teaching hardware skills, providing equipment to underserved populations, and getting much needed technical equipment and training to grassroots groups here and abroad.


Today, TecsChange continues to grow, with a solid core of technical and non-technical volunteers and a small staff who provide computer equipment, technical assessments, planning, training and support to individuals and groups working for social change locally and internationally.


YouthTech - a small program with a big goal


YouthTech continues to build on the mission of TecsChange. It's a small program with a big goal: to combine technology and media to allow young people to foster social change in their communities. In 2003, TecsChange staff and volunteers are running YouthTech on Saturday mornings, and will offer it as an intensive day program in the summer as well as later this year as an after-school program.


Over ten years, TecsChange has built itself and the technical resources of grassroots groups mainly through the volunteer sweat equity of hundreds of people who have given their time, energy and financial support to help us provide technology for grassroots organizers and activists here in our own community and in many other parts of the world. The work never ends. But we continue to be motivated and inspired by organizers and activists of all ages struggling for social justice, in our communities and throughout the world.


For more information about TecsChange visit us at http://www.tecschange.org


Aram Falsafi is an electrical engineer, long-time TecsChange volunteer, and a member of its steering committee and Board. Betsy Rueda Gynn is the Program Director of TecsChange. They can be reached at www.tecschange.org or at 617.442.4456.

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