Which Designs Should We Take to the Maker Faire?
Which is your favorite? Which are your kids favorites? Help us decide.
Tell us what you think on our facebook page
Which is your favorite? Which are your kids favorites? Help us decide.
Tell us what you think on our facebook page
Today, at the Maker Faire, I was interviewed for Bay Area Backroads. I'm not quite sure how people get used to having cameras pointing at them, as it certainly unsettled me.
It was actually kind of cool. I didn't see that they had a camera, at first. They asked me what we were setting up for...and I was just myself, talking about the Cell Project. Then they wired me up with a mic, and started shooting. I have to say that they were a little more reserved once the camera started running, and I think this made me a little more reserved as well.
I'm learning that when it comes to filming, I do much better when I don't know the camera's running. All I can say is, well....I hope they edit it well, and that GalaxyGoo at least gets a mention in the show (which should air in the Fall).
Did you notice the new category on this blog? Well, I'm pretty excited about it: XO laptop.
A while ago, we sent in a project proposal to the OLPC developers program. Today, I found out it was approved, and that two XOs are on the way.
I can hardly wait to get started! already studying the specs, before I even have the machine in my hands. Working in a Linux environment will be new for me, and while I've dabbled in Python I haven't done much with it yet. That's about to change. I get to be a newbie all over again!
How's this for a little experiment in social networking for a good cause? And the timing is great!
About the Causes Giving Challenge The Causes Giving Challenge launches on December 13, 2007 at 3pm EST and ends on February 1, 2008 at 3pm EST. Through the Challenge, all users of Causes on Facebook are invited to participate by creating a cause. A total of $250,000 will be awarded to the causes of those individuals who inspire the most donors to give to their charity.
$50,000 to the Cause with the most donors
$25,000 to the next two Causes with the most donors
$10,000 to the next ten Causes with the most donors
AND $1,000 each day to the Cause with the most donors that day
We believe that this campaign has the potential to show the extraordinary impact that new technologies and online communities are having on giving.
~ The Case Foundation
Note that it says the "most donors" not the most donated. So, if 200 people donate $40 each, we could be in very good shape.
Our goal is to raise money for The Cell Project, bringing us closer to getting it into classrooms as an integrated project based learning activity and lesson plan.
As of a few minutes ago, the Flash-a-thon for The Cell Project was doing pretty well. We're still in the top 4, but we need your help to stay there.
Adding to the excitement of the Flash-a-thon, the stats are updated real-time, so this could get exciting. How many donors will we need to win one of those $1,000 daily grants? Or one of the bigger grants?
For a while, I've been keeping an eye on zazzle.com, and have finally taken the plunge. GalaxyGoo is now on Zazzle.com!
What was the deciding factor? They have a special program for non-profits, and all sales will result in donations for GalaxyGoo programs. Once we got into the system, I was delighted with how easy it is to get up and running.
Recently, I discovered the Causes app on FaceBook. This application puts the power of online social networking into grass-roots efforts and fund raising. As the head of a non-profit, naturally I was curious. Getting set up was fairly easy and their staff was very helpful.
If you're on FaceBook, you can add GalaxyGoo to your causes with a simple click. You can recruit new supporters, make a donation, or just show your support by "being there". Note that the "invite" feature is stalling, currently. I've been reminding them every few days, on the app developers "wall". Trying not to be annoying about it, but it is a fairly important feature. :-)
One of the things I really like about the app is that as an individual, you can support several causes all in one place. Very cool! It really takes the supporters perspective into account. If you're a publicly minded person, it can be challenging to keep track of the causes you support.
It's also been more successful for GalaxyGoo, as a fund raiser. In the first few days, we had $75 in donations from three different supporters. In contrast, our six degrees badge has yet to see any action.
Recently, we were looking at a grant from the US Department of Education. In addition to expected elements like project description and budget details, there was a mandatory survey that seemed completely irrelevant to a program in science literacy. It's called the "Faith Based EEO Survey".
I know this is old-news for the non-profit sector, but it was the first time I'd actually seen the form myself. Once getting over the initial surprise, the form itself seemed very odd. The survey consisted of seven questions:
If an organization is faith-based, doesn't that exclude it from being a secular organization? It seems like a trick question, somehow.
GalaxyGoo has participated in the Blogathon twice now. It's been a lot of fun and we posted some great experimental Flash projects.
It's time for us to spin off on our own, with a less hectic schedule and more community participation. I'm thinking that we should spread the posts out over a few weeks and encourage the community to post links to their adaptations. Perhaps we should arrange some nice prizes.
We need a name! Current candidates are "GalaxyGoo-a-thon" and "Flash-a-thon". Obviously, we need more ideas.
I've turned off comments on some, but not all, of our posts as part of the long defensive battle against blog-comment spammers/vandals. Sometimes it sure seems like we're trapped in a siege-war.
While all comments are moderated, it's still a constant chore to deal with all the spam attacks. The last couple weeks have been particularly bad.
I'm tempted to add captcha, but I'm not sure if the accessibility issues have been worked out yet.
Kevin Bacon has a new website, that he hopes will encourage charitable giving...and it's called SixDegrees.org. It's sort of a social-networking-do-good project. I haven't explored it fully yet, but I'm intrigued.
To help promote the project, Kevin Bacon is offering $10,000 matching grants to organizations. Now here's the tricky part...the site has these badges, which can be created by anyone. People can select several organizations to raise money for. Mr Bacon's grants will go to the organizations selected by the six people with badges that raise the most money. A neat little play on the whole six-degrees-of-separation thing. you can even add video to your badge.
I've set up a badge for GalaxyGoo. You can too! Just click on the "get this badge" link and you'll be on your way.
We need to upgrade our servers. As tech support tells us, our current server "is extremely overloaded" and is "using *twice* more RAM" than it's supposed to support.
We need your help! With your support, we can upgrade the server and get our database driven programs back online. We currently pay quarterly for a "Base" dedicated virtual server from Media Temple. We'd need to upgrade to a "Rave" or "Extreme" account. We do get a small non-profit discount, but the upgrade will approximately double our server expenses.
Online donations can be made through Network for Good, or Paypal:
Our mailing address is :
4014 24th street, #349
San Francisco, CA 94114
We're working on a budget for an upcoming project...one with funding that will allow us to hire outside talent for the first time, and where we'll be working with scientists from different fields.
We need to get an idea of the current commercial ranges, and are surveying firms and independent contractors on how they currently budget for the following positions:
If you'd like to help us out, please use our on-line form to contact us. At this time, we're just looking for budget information. It will be some time before we start looking at portfolios.
I'm excited to announce that Peekabootique is now carrying GalaxyGoo t-shirts. Proceeds will support GalaxyGoo, and our educational projects.
How'd this happen? Our t-shirts were a big hit at the Noe Valley Harvest Festival. This didn't escape the notice of Peekabootique's owners, who were looking for a local artist to work with to develop lines for their store. After a short series of talks, it was aggreed that Peekabootique would carry the currently available t-shirts and that we would work to develop new designs and packaging. While I can't go into any details, all designs will be science and math related.
Peekabootique is located at 1306 Castro Street (at 24th Street), in the Noe Valley neighborhood of San Francisco.
The PlumpJack group is featureing GalaxyGoo in the Charity Corner of their current newsletter: PlumpJack News -- October 2006. There's a blurb on GalaxyGoo in the bottom-right corner of the page, so you'll have to scroll down to see it.
"PlumpJack Wines Noe Valley and GalaxyGoo are working together to increase science literacy. GalaxyGoo is science, art, and discovery. The educational resources GalaxyGoo develops are free to teachers, students, and the general public.
Guess how many cells are in your body to be entered to win dinner for two at Balboa Cafe San Francisco, our PumpJack restaurant at the corner of Fillmore and Greenwich in historic Cow Hollow.
Your $1 donation will benefit science education, and give you the chance to win a great night out!"
Beneath the poster are coaster sized disks, with kaleidoscopic cell patterns printed on them. They sort of remind me of sand dollars on a beach.
Tech Soup (the technology pace for nonprofits) has published a great resource on Network Neutrality and Nonprofits, with links categorized as informative or opinion. The emphasis is on what net neutrality means to the non-profit sector.
Wow! We did it! We posted experimental Flash projects (with source files) every 30 minutes for 24 hours. It wouldn't have been possible without my amazing team. Edwin, Mike, Paul, and Stacey, and special guest Keith Peters, posted fantastic and diverse experimental flash projects (including source files). The experience made us all wish we had more time to experiment. Everyone went above and beyond what was asked of them, and in my eyes they truly sparkled.
In addition to the coders, we had an invaluable team member who may be unfamiliar to the Flash blog audience: Phyllis Pugh. Phyllis is a neuroscientist.She is also on the board of directors and is the science advisor to GalaxyGoo. If you ask me, we've just discovered a hidden talent of hers: blogger extraordinaire. Her introductions were great! She stepped up during the blogathon, even with an unexpected and personal loss.
Why'd we do this? There were two main goals: 1) inspire our fellow flash developers to do more experimentation and 2) raise money for the educational programs at Galaxygoo.
It's not too late to make a pledge of support for GalaxyGoo at blogathon.org. To every donor who pledges $40 or more, we'll be sending a cool thank you gift: a Glow-in-the-dark Astro-Logix construction toy (64 pieces).
The blogathon is almost upon us, and we're working furiously to get ready. We've got a fantastic group of Flash coders contributing files to this event. Some participated back in 2003, and some are joining us for the first time.
The projects will be in various version of Flash, including AS3.
During the event, we'll publish source files as well as finished swf. We hope that you will join in on the fun, play around with the code, and post your own variations.
The event starts at 6am (pacific), on Saturday, July 29th, and ends 24 hours later.
You can help support the educational programs at GalaxyGoo, by making a pledge of support on the blogathon.org website.
It's amazing how a simple detail can mean a big difference in expenses. The US Postal Service is a great place to find these little, but expensive details.
When I took a sample newsletter down to the post office, to check for any potential problems, I discovered something that really surprised me. On a mailing with a fold on one side, and open pages on the other, the orientation of the mailing address can add extra charges. If the mailing address is oriented so that the bottom of the type is toward the fold, everything is fine. But if the bottom of the type is toward the open pages, you have to pay a special fee of $0.13. Why? Because, the item has to pass through the machine fold-first, and if the address doesn't face the fold, it's not machine readable. The fee is a charge for "hand sorting".
What really surprised me was that there isn't any kind of software compensation for the orientation of the text, so that it can be machine read upside-down.
Ahhh, the joys of the brick-and-morter world :-)
It looks like GalaxyGoo may be offering chocolate bars as part of our fundraising strategy. Not just any chocolate, but organic chocolate. Yum!
The idea came from long-time sponsor of GalaxyGoo, Chocolate Covered (on 24th Street, San Francisco). They generously donate chocolate to our events.
Basically, existing bars will be given our packaging. The chocolate will be available by special order.
Update: This project has been postponed.
This article is aimed at non-profits, but I think there is a lot in here that applies to anyone trying to reach out to an audience. The take-away message I get is that you need to put yourself and your mission into the newsletter, instead of distancing your self from the reader. In a way, it's somewhat like writing a successful blog with a distinct voice behind it.
I would argue not to go too far with these issues, though. While you shouldn't just throw statistics and charts into a newsletter, they can be used effectively to communicate important information. They should illustrate a point you're trying to make. But if it's just filler, put in a pretty picture instead.
826 Valencia: The Writing Center helps kids develop their writing skills. A worthy goal, but how do they fund it?
With a pirate store! Yep, that's right, they run a store full of eye patches and pirate hats to fund their literacy projects.
For years now, while making small-talk at parties, the pirate store comes up almost every time the nature of my work is mentioned. The first time I heard of 826 Valencia and The Pirate Shop, was at a conference for non-profits. It was a session on the emerging earned income strategy, in the world of dwindling traditional funding sources. The whole idea of a store selling pirate-themed toys to support a program was crazy and brilliant. It works! Can it be duplicated? Maybe not, but it can inspire new ideas.
The key is to connect something that people want with something they want to support -- make it easier to satisfy the drive to "do good". Along these lines, I've been looking for things GalaxyGoo could offer to the feel-good market space.
This past November, we organized an amazing art show with works inspired by math and science. It was a successful show, but didn't raise a large amount of money or stir up a buzz in the local media. Why? I think that perhaps the ticket price on most of the pieces was outside the budget of our community of supporters. The Pirate Store is filled with inexpensive items, and they sell a lot of them.
But why no media buzz? Maybe we need to work on a smaller scale and get people more familiar and comfortable with the intersection of art and science. Reach out with something that they can hold onto. One thing we could do is to offer appealing products through services like lulu.com and cafepress.com.
Just saw today, that Keith Peters' fantastic book, ActionScript Animation: Making Things Move, is sold out. Wow! Congratulations Keith!
It just so happens that we were about to list a signed copy of the book in our MissionFish/Ebay auctions. So, if you've just got to have a copy, and you'd like to support our programs at the same time, the timing couldn't be better. The listing is scheduled to go live tonight at 9pm, Pacific.
Legal note: GalaxyGoo is a registered charity in the State of California. This is not a solicitation for donations outside of California.
Kim Klein, of the Grassroots Fundraising Journal reports that her subscribers overwhelmingly prefer paper to online delivery of their newsletter. She also suggests that organizations consider a balance between paper and online media. Grassroots Fundraising Journal - Dear Kim Q&A Column
My own thoughts on this subject are in agreement about finding the balance that works best for your own organization. We're still figuring out what that balance is for GalaxyGoo. So far, we've always published online, and only print when we have special events.
We are still planning on publishing a printed GalaxyGoo newsletter, and if all goes well, we will be opening subscriptions this year.
GalaxyGoo needs to upgrade CF on it's server. Your donation will help us pay for the new licence and will also be tax deductible. Please mail your donation to
4104 24th Street, #349
San Francisco, CA 94114
Be sure to write "for CF upgrade" in the comment line on the check, so that the donation is earmarked for the upgrade.
Since we have such an old version of CF, we can't take advantage of the upgrade pricing.
Legal statement: GalaxyGoo is a registered charity in the state of Califorina, and is not solicitng donations from outside of California.
We've launched a simple event page for The Art of Science: Art Auction Benefit Event 2005. As more details are set, in the months leading up to the November event, we'll update and expand the page.
This was a tough decision, but we're going to skip the Blogathon this year. While the last Blogathon was a great experience, several issues tipped the balance against GalaxyGoo participating this year. First of all, we've already got our hands full with the upcoming Art Auction and Benefit event. Secondly, Macromedia has already released a public Beta of the next Flash player. It seemed strange to be putting together a collection of experimental Flash pieces right now.
The last Blogathon was a lot of fun, and I wish this year's participants the best of luck.
This year, I made one big resolution, to become a better non-profit leader. I'm not wasting any time, and am already working on it. I just picked up some books I had special ordered through my local bookstore. Here's my current reading list:
The Nonprofit Membership Toolkit, by Ellis M.M. Robinson
Improving Leadership In Nonprofit Organizations, eds R.E. Riggio & S.S. Orr
Boards That Love Fundraising: A How-to Guide For Your Board, by R.M. Zimmerman & A.W. Lehman
If you are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and are interested in getting involved with GalaxyGoo at the Board level, have experience volunteering for non-profits and participating on their Boards, please contact me.
TechSoup has a new article about non-profits and weblogs: Profiles of Nonprofit Weblogs. Four organization were asked a series of questions--interesting answers.