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Soup Hub

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About the Soup Hub

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Background

The Soup Hub came out of a project named Open Communities, which was part of the Retake the Net initiative.

Founded in mid-2011, the project originated from the desire to use open source software and open source principles beyond the tech world, in our wider communities, to help those amongst us who need it the most. The project acknowledges that poverty goes beyond inadequate food, clothing, or shelter. People also need access to information and knowledge. They need ways to communicate and share, and safe environments that foster inspiration and ideas.

Inspired by projects such as One Laptop per Child, whose mission is to empower the world’s poorest children by giving them access to educational tools, the Open Communities project aims to use low-cost or surplus hardware, open source software, and concrete application of open source philosophy to empower people who otherwise couldn’t afford it to participate, learn, share, and create.

We started by engaging with existing groups, such as Wellington ICT and Computers in Homes, to see where they have gaps or could use help, and then fill one or two of those gaps. From those conversations, a three-fold focus emerged:

  1. Going where people are
  2. Adding in open source
  3. Connecting isolated initiatives

In August, we started working on a prototype of a computer hub at a central Wellington soup kitchen at the Suzanne Aubert Compassion Centre. We spoke to soup kitchen guests about their needs and wishes, and received an enormous amount of input and support from Wellington ICT on how to get started and what to pay attention to. The prototype is comprised of

  • the actual computers – two machines to start with, using refurbished surplus hardware
  • software – mostly a Linux-based operating system and a browser
  • some supplies (printer)
  • internet access through the centre's existing network
  • this wiki, to serve as a web presence for the project as well as a repository of resources for the users
  • training & support.

The map below shows the various facets that make up the Soup Hub, even though we are not addressing all of them immediately. One of the key ideas is to develop a model which can be refined, shared, and easily re-used in other locations.

The Soup Hub officially opened on 2 March 2012.

More background on the project can be found on the Retake the Net website.

Common reasons why people want learn computer or improve their computer skills:

  • Stay in touch with friends and family - view and share pictures and updates; use email and social networks.
  • Avoid social isolation - the internet lets us connect with others through shared interests, discussions, games, etc.
  • Get access to information such as health information, getting help and assistance, resources, news.
  • Build job skills, both computer-related and other training; and related, seek and apply for jobs
  • Make information accessible, for example, screen readers for people with poor eyesight.
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Page last modified on February 09, 2013, at 05:55 PM