News From The Mountain

Volume 2 No. 1, August 1995

News From the Mountain is a feature of La Plaza de Taos Telecommunity. Our aim is to present updates, announcements, and feature stories about events and people important to La Plaza. In this issue, you will find Headline stories, including a piece on the Kellogg grant La Plaza recently received and an article on the upcoming International Telecommunications Conference which La Plaza will host. Also included is our section "On the Road", with updates on recent activities La Plaza staff have participated in across the country and around the world. You will also find Notices of upcoming La Plaza events and a feature article on Shawn Draccup, HTML Design Engineer for La Plaza. News From the Mountain is written and edited by Richard Bryant and Cathy McAleer with great help from Shawn Draccup and the La Plaza staff.

Information in this newsletter may be freely distributed, but it must include a reference to the source: La Plaza--News from the Mountain Vol x, No. y, Month, Year.

All rights reserved. R.W. Bryant, La Plaza Telecommunity, 1995





ONLINE WITH: Shawn Dracup



On Friday, July 14, La Plaza hosted a block party to celebrate its recognition as one of the six top community projects for the NII (National Information Infrastructure) Awards (see related story below). The party also provided La Plaza with the opportunity to thank the many individuals and groups who have helped La Plaza in the past, and who continue to offer their support. Patrick Finn, who hosted the event, noted that Taos has "created something outstanding" and that we are "now part of a global revolution." In looking towards the future, Patrick asked, "Will this technology really serve the people of Taos county, can we create new jobs, improve healthcare, expand educational resources? Can we find homes for the homeless, provide assistance to those less fortunate, and generally improve the quality of life?" He answered with a challenge: "What is possible is up to us. Our collective efforts will make the difference. The only limit is our openness, imagination, and will."

After the speech, Certificates of Appreciation were given out to the many people and organizations who have participated in making La Plaza the success is it. Those who received Certificates included Taos Mayor Fred Peralta, UNM-Taos Director, Dr. Augustine Martinez, and Ms. D.D. Downs, co-founder of the Downs Media Education Center. Dr. Sig Hecker, Director of Los Alamos National Labs, also received a Certificate for LANL as did Steve Cisler, Senior Scientist for Apple Computer who surprised Patrick and the audience by announcing Apple's gift of a Web Browser to La Plaza (see related story below). Volunteers and staff were also recognized for their generosity and continued support.

Despite the rain, which allowed for the audience to join speakers on the covered stage at Kit Carson Park, the free food and drinks and music by the Jenny Bird Band, combined to create a fun celebration for all who attended.


La Plaza, along with such luminaries as the Library of Congress, New York Public Library, Harvard University, and the University of Michigan, among others, has been awarded a 3-year grant by the W. K. Kellogg Foundation. The grant, which exceeds $900,000 over the three-year period, will be used for a project to create a new virtual library of regional resources, as well as links to other virtual libraries worldwide. The grant will also be used to expand the existing infrastructure of La Plaza and to provide training and education for residents of the greater Taos region. It will also provide for La Plaza to have it's own T-1 line. The project falls under the W.K. Kellogg initiative, "Human Resources for Information Systems Management (HRISM)" and, specifically, the Kellogg "Strategy II: Redefining Community Library Service."


Steve Cisler, Senior Scientist at Apple Computers, announced at the Block Party that La Plaza would receive a new Web Browser. The gift is one of many that Apple Computers has provided La Plaza and we continue to be delighted with their support.


May 14 - 18, 1996, La Plaza will host an international community networking conference. The conference, held for the past two years in Cupertino, California by Apple Computers called "Ties That Bind: Converging Communities," (see article below) will take place at the Taos Convention Center. Sponsors for the 1996 conference include Apple Computers and the UNM-Taos Education Center. The conference will deal with various aspects of community networking, including organizational development, community outreach, education, sustainability, government, and technology. Speakers will include: Adam Clayton Powell III, Howard Reingold, and Steve Cisler. An evening question-and-answer panel of La Plaza users will also be scheduled. Approximately 500 people from all over the world, including representatives from Japan, Chile, and England, are slated to attend. Cost for the conference will be $300.00 with some scholarships available. Registration forms will be available mid-winter 1996. Check with La Plaza for further details.


CALIFORNIA: May 2-5, 1995 Patrick Finn, Richard Bryant, and Paul Cross attended the "Ties That Bind: Converging Communities" conference, sponsored by Apple Computers, Inc. and The Morino Institute held in Cupertino, California. The conference, which La Plaza will host next year (see article above), featured 30 speakers discussing various aspects of community networking. Papers presented included such important topics as "The Internet and the Poor," "The Net and Federal Indian Law," and "Laws of Electronic Communities & Their Roads..." Patrick and Cyd Strickland, from the Fielding Institute, presented a paper entitled: "Bringing Communities Together -- La Plaza Telecommunity Foundation" which introduced the international audience to the work La Plaza has done and continues to do.

CALIFORNIA: In May, Richard Bryant was invited to sit on a panel at the Partnerships in Networked Health Services conference, sponsored by the U.S. Public Health Service. The Rancho Mirage, California meeting brought together a diverse group of healthcare professionals from government, the private sector, hospitals, clinics, physicians, nurses, and community networks. The conference was convened to discuss approaches and problems with using electronic networks for improving and reducing costs of health care in the United States. There was much discussion of the need for network security for the protection of patient records, financial information, etc. It was also stressed that the systems must be easy to use -- particularly in order to get physicians to use them. The session in which Bryant was a presenter specifically discussed the role of community networks and networked healthcare. Bryant discussed using the community network as a central locus from which virtually all community networked services can be run -- including health care. This approach was well received by other members of the panel and the audience.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: On July 12 Patrick Finn, Paul Cross and Richard Bryant enjoyed the humor of Master of Ceremonies, Dick Cavett, at the First Annual NII (National Information Infrastructure) Awards Ceremony. As one of six nominees in the Community Award category, La Plaza was privileged to attend the event in our nation's capital. Keynote speakers included Ron Brown, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Chairman of the U.S. Information Infrastructure Task Force. Vice-President Al Gore virtually presented a message to all who attended. The winner of the Community Award was The Alzheimer's Disease Support Center on the Cleveland Free-Net. Other awards were given to organizations in Business, Education, Government, Health, and Arts & Entertainment.

WASHINGTON, D.C.: Paul Cross and Richard Bryant presented at "American Communicating Electronically" at the Small business Administration Offices in Washington, D.C. Federal government attendees included three from the White House, and a cross-section of federal agencies. All were impressed at the extraordinary progress accomplished by La Plaza. Paul and Patrick first presented to this group in November 1993, when La Plaza was in its conceptual stage. Many complimented them on our beautiful site on the World Wide Web.

The following week, Rick and Paul presented at SGI's Webmania '95 show in D.C. Over 600 people from the federal government and industry were in attendance. La Plaza was the only telecommunity at the show, and received a great deal of attention from very diverse sectors of the federal government and industry. Paul summed it up: "It was another successful trip to D.C., even if it was 102 in the shade!"

CALGARY: Patrick Finn went to Calgary in Alberta, Canada, to initiate a community network centered on diversity. Invited by the Multi-Cultural Commission of Alberta, Patrick facilitated a two and a half day workshop for the pilot participants representing diverse agencies including health care, Calgary Freenet, communication activists and University Information Systems people from across the province. As part of the Multi-Cultural Commission's Summer Institute, Patrick facilitated both a pilot program workshop for 20 people and an evening discussion with 45-50 people representing different government agencies. The participants were extremely happy with the results and are currently working on starting their own community network of diversity.


The La Plaza Community Advisory Forum Meetings Dates:

August 24; September 21; October 26
Time: 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM
All meetings are held at the El Alcalde Room at the Taos Civic and Convention Center
Everyone is welcome to attend!

Quick Start II

For all La Plaza users, intensive classes are now available in:

Pine (Thursdays 9:00-11:00)
Lynx (Wednesdays 1:00-3:00)
FTP (Thursdays 7:00-8:00)
TIN (Fridays 10:00-11:00)

Fee: $10

Volunteers may take the classes for free. All classes are held in the LRC. Reserve your space by calling La Plaza at 751-HELP or contact totem for more details.


Shawn Draccup (ccdracup), HTML Design Engineer for La Plaza (aka the HTML Queen), recently took the time to answer some email questions for News From the Mountain:

NFTM: When did you join La Plaza?

SD: I began volunteering for La Plaza in November of '94. I had just moved back to Taos from San Francisco where I had been working in computer graphics. Patrick was in the process of readying La Plaza for the December 6th flipping of the switch. We weren't putting graphics up at that time so we were basically learning html and getting the textual skeleton of the system built. Jim Tucker, Patrick, and myself did most of the html mark up, keying and organizing data. We were assisted of course by the volunteers and community effort to gather the information needed.

NFTM: What, exactly, do you do for La Plaza?

SD: Gosh... I do a lot here. It's the phenomena of the new seedling organization where each member of a small staff has an opportunity to draw on a range of talents and abilities and wear more than one hat in order to get things done. I officially work for the "content" portion of La Plaza. I create and develop the text and images on the La Plaza web pages. ...I also do a lot of organizing and directing of volunteers who do research for La Plaza and who bring information about and for the Taos community. I enjoy being part of the Community Network in this way. I believe this service is very beneficial. It's wonderful to watch it grow and to be able to contribute to that development.

NFTM: Shawn brings to La Plaza a wealth of diverse yet interconnected experiences. She has worked in New York City running trade shows and developing a sportswear line for her company. She also worked for a music industry merchandising company, called Winterland Productions, in their art department where she was involved in converting a traditional (analog) graphic design studio into a cyber one. Located in San Francisco, Shawn says, "It was great. We were working with large graphic files so the least amount of ram on any machine in that room was 72 megs. That was where I learned the graphics programs I use."

Shawn was also a fashion model for 3 years and has done editorial work for Vogue, Mademoiselle, Self and other European magazines. Shawn has done runway, Fashion shows, acting and film work. All this has helped her in a new role at La Plaza as public speaker. While the Executive Staff of La Plaza was out of state accepting awards and presenting, Shawn was asked to do a presentation for a large group in Albuquerque. The presentation was successful and perhaps Shawn will continue wearing this hat in the future. For now, however, she is very busy working on the Trading Post @ La Plaza and other html projects.

NFTM: What other things in your life influenced your decision to do this kind of work and to work for La Plaza?

SD: Well, I have contemplated my "life's work" on more than one occasion. I've finally come to realize that one doesn't choose ones "life's work" as much as it chooses you. I just do what feels right to me and if it doesn't feel right I change it. I figured that if I did that practice long enough and stick with the stuff that feels right, eventually my "life's work" would come about. So I studied visual arts for four years, and most recently photography. I always had a problem conceiving of making art for monetary profit. So I do this. And trust that ones life's work is what one happens to be doing at any given moment.

NFTM: How often do you spend doing your own thing on the net? and what kinds of things do you like to do on the net?

SD: My own thing on the net at this point happens to be building and maintaining La Plaza. I do a bit of searching and surfing for my own entertainment but not a lot. At this point my idea of entertainment is relaxing in the sun on the side of a mountain somewhere. Personally, I use the net mostly for information. I'm interested in Art and Science and sometimes I go for a little Pop Culture. I appreciate having access to the world in this way. It keeps me from getting small-townitis.

NFTM: We are all pleased that Shawn has joined the La Plaza Staff and continues to do such outstanding work for La Plaza.

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