Today I toured Free Geek, an awesome computer re-habilitation and recycling center here in Portland that has spawned other centers in many cities. It’s an amazing facility. They use mostly volunteer labour to process incoming donations, keeping the best parts in order to make computers. They then install Ubuntu linux on the computers and donate them to their volunteers and the community at large. And they run educational classes to teach people how to do all of this and how to use the computers.
The place is clearly a geek heaven – there are countless pieces of geek art, tiny little geeky jokes all over the walls, and more computer parts than you can shake a stick at. Our tour guides were awesome and very forgiving of our need to check out all the little details. The tour is actually organized in order to orient new volunteers to the layout and how the place works, so we totally crashed that party, but they liked us anyway :-). They even have a museum of very old computers, including an Apple IIe, a NEXT box, an Altair 8000b, and numerous other famous computers. I highly recommend touring Free Geek, it’s an awesome place and we need way more of them – they are doing great stuff.
I’m going to try to resurrect my flickr account tomorrow, so you can see all the art, but for now you’ll just have to stick with these three images, showing the outside, our tour guides, and some of the rehabilitated computers just prior to donation.