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[Computerbank] Re: solving the conundrum of the bush

Hi Bruce,

While I am sure that Computerbank would love to help set up branches in
other regional areas I think the reality is that there are not many
resources available to do this. This is particularly true of new state
branches, most of which are only about one year old. I think you would get a
much more positive response to forming regional branches if you take a more
proactive approach and get locals to do the branch setup.

In many ways this process would be similar to the way you would start any
community organisation. Gather local support, hold some meetings, discuss
goals, look for a core group of maybe 5-6 people who will run the
organisation locally. At this point the group would probably need to write
formally to Computerbank outlining their intention to become a branch,
provide a list of contacts and some background on the group.

Next you would need to do more planning: where are you going to get PCs ?
how are you going to solve transport problems ? what will be the service
area for the branch ? who is going to do the technical support ? You might
start looking for pledges of support from local business and industry. You
will need to start looking for storage and workshop space. You will need to
come up with a solution for who provides the technical know how. Finally I
would see you coming back to Computerbank with a formal proposal to form a
regional branch. This would probably look like a short business plan.
Looking at the various state branches as examples and the time it has taking
to get where they are today, it is not unreasonably to expect it to take 12
months to establish a regional branch. If you can do it faster - cool !

Previously I mentioned that I think your best option to secure linux
technical expertise for the bush might be to train local volunteers. If your
baby branch can find some volunteers willing to spend the time to learn
linux then I think Computerbank could support them. I would think that
Computerbank could provide some PCs, CDs, and maybe text books. Computerbank
 could maybe team these people with one or two mentors. There are numerous
resources available on the net, such as LUGs, email lists, IRC, newsgroups
and web sites dedicated to linux - and our mentors could point these people
in the right direction. The time for such a person to reach a basic level of
proficiency will vary. For a highly skilled person, in full-time employment,
doing a few hours a week around other commitments, you could be looking at a
6 month linux familiarisation period.

You might ask what support can the regional node expect from state branch ?
Lets taking Queensland as an example. Currently we are looking at running
our first large project that will commence in February and run for 3 months.
Further ahead we will need to be planning for running our own work for the
dole project, looking for permanent accommodation, fundraising, managing
volunteers etc. In general I think we will be pretty busy and will not have
many resources to spare for starting a new regional branch. Sure we would be
happy to offer encouragement and answer questions. We should be able to find
some people to act as technical mentors if needed. At the moment we have no
cash, so you should not expect any money. From time to time we may have some
spare PCs but I can't guarantee anything. Depending on exactly how regional
you are talking I might be able to take a drive one weekend and wave the
flag. Does this paint a better picture for you ? Maybe in 12 months when we
have wftd funding, our own place, a full-time staff, grants and funding
coming from all directions, then it might be a different story.

Hope this is constructive.

Tony Joblin,
Convenor - Computerbank Queensland
A Branch of Computerbank Australia Inc.
Box 1423, Coorparoo DC  4151
Tel: 07 3371 1311 (W), Email: cbq-exec@dstc.edu.au

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