Last year a few of us went down to Athens Ohio to visit June Holley and ACEnet. We were so inspired and realized that the "powers that be" needed to see how June's unique model has made a huge impact in an economy that was well on its way to sinking into one of their abandoned coal mines.
Sitting in a wifi cafe, we formed the concept of Entreprenet-tours, a sort of travel agent for economic development and civic entrepreneurs to see regions that have found innovative ways to stimulate growth. The trips would be like retreats, shared with other civic minded folks where learning concepts, meeting with regional leaders (not necessarily elected ones), and discussing the days events would be the agenda. It would be an experiential learning experience that would have a strong community building component and be as different each time as the personalities and backgrounds of your fellow travelers.
Initially, we figured that Entreprenetours would set up trips to Southeast Ohio and ACEnet, but also in the offing could be Charleston, Michiana, and maybe Seattle. If you are interested in comeing to a trip, contact me, George, Jack, or Valdis.
The response from the first tour was so good and we troupadors had such a good time meeting and talking with people along the way, we decided to do another.
We will visit different spots along the way and this time with alot less rush. The schedule below:
9AM - 11AM > 185th St Arabica in North Colinwood
11:30AM - 1:30PM > Mustard Seed Café in Solon
2PM - 4PM > The Business Center Downtown
4:30PM - 6:30PM > Fairview Park Library
7PM > Brendan O'Neill's Pub in Westlake
The plan is to do interview/dialogs with social entrepreneurs at each spot. We have some people scheduled, but the fun is in the accidental conversations.
So if you are in the neighborhood during any of the above times on Thursday May 12; come in, have a cup of coffee, open your laptop and join us!
Here's a company that isn't waiting for the city of San Francisco to do something. They appear to be a company that will come in and set up a wireless network in your home, office, or neighborhood.
Scott points out that the media out there ran the story (probably with a positive slant), yet private efforts here are ignored or buried underneath stories of the super-funded, top-down nonprofit spin-stories.
For example, does anybody remember hearing about Ron Copfer's Fathom Interactive opening up their wifi access downtown a few years ago? Did you hear about it through the mainstream media or via blogs, conversation, or emails?
Makes you wonder if this is one of the reasons that the West Coast seems to continually bounce back from economic downturns while we remain mired in conditions that developed decades ago.
Ever since Valdis convinced George to jump to the Mac side of the river, I've been a lone (and sometimes frustrated) Wintel user.
Now it has leaked to my own home. Maritza brought home this iMac, invading the sanctity of my office space.
I guess I deserve it since below you can see two computers in various states of disrepair that I promised to have up and running for her...oh about 8 months ago.
Last night at the Cleveland Public Theater annual Silent Auction, I ran into Jim Metrisin, one of my photographer friends from when I first moved to NEO. I had not seen him in about 8 years.
I hardly recognized him and he, me since we both got a bit older and fatter, but the personality and the witty repetoire that made him so much fun to be around was still there.
We caught up a little, he introduced me to his wife Lynna, and he told me of how some of the old photo crew get together for wings in the Flats on some Thursday during the month. He invited me see them.
Soon after, our mutual friend Kenn Lewis and his wife showed up and the banter commenced. I had not seen Kenn in over a year even though he has moved to my neck of the woods. I told him he needs to have a party.
I also saw Bruce Abrams and his wife Sarah Townsend.
Rabbi Bruce married Maritza and I! It must have been at least three years since I spoke to him and 4 or 5 seen I saw them. I didn't have the heart to tell them I went Bu-Ju.
All this after I spent an hour at Bella Dubby where I ran into Lori Diemer, someone I knew from being active with DIBS (Downsized Into Business Startups). Two years since talking with her.
So good to reconnect and it reminds me what it was about Cleveland that made me decide to make it my home.
Last night I went to Artefino for the Latino Art Show sans my connection with Latin anything, my latina wife. She was going out for dinner and dancing with friends, and I figured I'd kill some time and maybe meetup with G and Jack later, if they were doing anything. I also had an ulterior motive to speak to Hector Vega, the artist-proprietor, about why he left Phoenix Coffee. (Shame on me! I'm becoming one of those salespeople.)
Anyway, not really knowing anyone, I took my merlot and munchies to a table strategically located for people watching. I saw I guy that I was dancing around at the buffet table and he was getting ready to sit by himself at a nearby table. I waved him over since we had that intimate moment around food and we started to get to know each other.
As serendipity would have it, he works at my former corporate prison, Philips Medical Systems and he is good friends with one of my few remaining buddys there. Jim called the other guy and we all decide to lunch next week. Jim and I spent the rest of the night sucking down wine, telling jokes, and discussion the difference between corporate and entrepreneural life.
The conversation attracted Jeff, a songster, near-minister and good soul, who contributed to the fun and stimulation. We moved the talk to the similarities of Judism, Christianity, and Buddhism which set up a great discussion on how to make a living ethically. I pointed him to Jack's blog and hopefully he will see Jack's Manifesto of Social Responsibiliy.
What a night! Sorry if I missed anybody expecting me in Tremont's Kelly Randall Gallery, but when the vibe is right, why fight it. And what an unexpected vibe!
Enough with the Phoenix Coffee self promotion and on to my other passion...Universal Wifi Access.
After attending the first National Summit of Community Wireless Networks last August, I ran into Tom Furnas, Senior Director of Technology at Ideastream and board member on OneCleveland, in the Warehouse district. I told him about what work was going on in Urbana, Ill. by CUWiN and that I thought it would work well as part of Tremont Wifi Neighborhood project. He said that sounded good and that it aught to cost $50-60,000. I said more like $10-20,000. He didn't believe it.
Well, Sascha Meinrath, the head of CUWiN, published numbers as part of a presentation at Open Space Austin Tropos, a commericial (and proprietary) mesh network provider, announced that cost per sq. mile would be $68,000. Compare that with what Sascha shows.
So here's some numbers for a CUWiN-based system...
1 square mile = 27,878,400 square feet.
CUWiN's existing network has links as short as about 100 meters, and as long as 400 meters (or more). So I've broken down the network cost estimates into a "low-", "medium-", and "high-cost" breakdowns to give an honest assessment of the potential spread for different geographies.
Node radius Sq Ft Covered #Nodes Needed Cost*
1,000 3,140,000 9 $3150
500 785,000 36 $12600
250 196,250 142 $49700
*Note: Current costs for the equipment CUWiN uses are $350/node.
So using the middlin numbers for Tremont's geography and estimating that we want to cover about half of Tremont's 6 sq. miles, it would be around $38,500. We were both off significantly, but compared to the $50,000 OneCleveland says the equipment costs are to get onto their fiber network and without any "last mile" consideration, it still is quite cheap and much better than hiring Tropos to do it for us.
Click on the espresso machine on the left…(above)
Insert the coin in the slot…
Select your beverage…
Click on the filled cup…
Finally, click on apri.
I know what is in Phoenix's coffee. What's in your?
Yep, that's what I am! Now that I have been able to free myself from the pressures of the nonprofit sector, one of my new endeavors is selling coffee to the wholesale market for local legendary roaster, Phoenix Coffee.
I love coffee almost as much as George and Sarah appreciated some referrals that I sent their way. So they asked if I would be interested in doing this for them part time. I jumped at the chance to do something totally foreign to my experience (retail, sales) and to be able to work closely with one of the legends of the coffee business, Carl Jones.
So far, I am loving it. I get to talk to people about a passion I have, I get to learn even more about coffee, and I get to act as a connector, in social network parlance, bringing people together for their mutual benefit. Not too different to what I saw myself as doing with NEOBio, but without the politics and with some financial rewards. This social network/ positive Karma stuff works!
So if you want some world class artisan roasted coffee made right here in ClevoNEO, click or call Phoenix Coffee. And tell them Steve sent ya. (I need the commission.)
Although, it has not been officially announced yet, I'm pleased to let everyone know that as of last week, I am no longer the acting director of NEOBio. The new Director is Carol Duane of DandD Consultants of Mentor. I wish her much luck and will stay involved in a limited capacity to help Carol along as needed and as I am available. They even gave me this neat plaque of appreciation.
As I have often complained to my compadres, NEOBio was eating my lunch as far as how much work was involved. Originally, I was only going to stick with it for a year, but CIL grants and my greed for cash kept me at it for another.
Yet, this was a labor of love. The bioscience community in Northeast Ohio (and in the State) is fragmented, political, and hierarchical. The start-up, emerging, and nascent bio companies, unless they have management in the clique, are ignored. This is a shame since history has shown how nearly every big homerun company started as a couple of people sketching in a lab book or on a napkin.
I'm happy that NEOBio will survive in some way without me continually pushing and hopefully they will stay true to goal of creating a healthy, thriving community of bioscience companies, that support one another, help one another, and promote one another.
PS. As for me, I will concentrate back on my consulting company and civically, start working on my other pet passion, free wifi. Bye, bye, Stevo-bio. Hello Stevi-Wifi!
PPS. Believe it or not,I embarrassingly admit that I have been self-censoring myself in my comments about the state of Cleveland's Economic Development and the superfunded, old school pseudo-nonprofits because I feared fallout to NEOBio and those who have been staunch supporters. Now the gloves are off and though I run the risk of being snarky, I'm ready to point out some inconsistancies I noticed while uncomfortably strattling the backroom deal crowd and the populist grassroots. Stay tuned!
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