OLLIE gigs and Dental complaints


I'm just finishing up week one (week two for some schools) for the Winter session of OLLIE. The groups we are working with this time already seem to be an infinite improvement over some of the groups from last session. I'm not going to put all of the blame on the schools and students though.

What's Going On.


Hey everybody! Long time, no blog.

Things have been crazy around here as of late, but now that it is spring break, I have one week without OLLIE gigs to catch up on everything that I have been neglecting. That means four short movies to edit, some DVDs to create, and a website to build. We'll see how much I actually get done.

In other news, I managed to put together another Kirsten Academy class (after nearly 3 months without one). The topic this time was stop-motion animation! Check out the movies we made here. We used a program called iStopMotion, which can be purchased online for about $40. Recently, however, I was talking with Andrew of YVXN/NYMAP fame, and he recommended a program called FrameThief, which is actually free!

Comment from danielle martin on March 27, 2007 - 12:21am

Hey Gariet,

Good to hear you're getting a breather.

Did you catch the stop motion animation we made with the new CTC VISTA mascot, the robot at a MA area meeting a couple months ago? (Did you get yours?) Julie edited it and posted it on her blog.

I'm SO in for a robot inspired animation show-off!


Comment from gariet cowin on March 27, 2007 - 1:20pm

I can't believe how many robots you have! This is just like when I was a kid, and I could only afford 1 stormtrooper figure. And my friend Matt had a whole army of them! I want more robots!!!

And yeah, I got the robot. And it arrived on my birthday, so that was pretty sweet. I thought it was a birthday robot at first, actually. But I guess everybody got them.


NYMAP computer is here!


We finally got our super-sweet computer that we will be using for the NYMAP youth video exchange.  Unfortunately, I got it about 5 minutes before I left for vacation, so it has just been sitting around for the last week.  But now I am back, and ready to put it to good use.  Youth media swapping, here I come!

I'll post another entry when I actually have a chance to try it out, and learn more about the whole exchange process. 

To Wiki or Not to Wiki, that's the question


Part of my work this year for the CTC VISTA Project is fostering some resource development among the VISTAs. This is new concept for a project that has mostly focused on just training, supporting, and placing capacity building VISTAs in community and technology centers. As Paul Hansen mentioned in his Project update article in the last Digest:

"It's because a more focused structure makes it much more feasible for us to provide substantive (priority area specific) support and training to the our VISTAs. And, in a tighter network of VISTAs, members are more likely to support each other in more general ways, as they face the challenges of VISTA service."

Making it...


I have been wanting to say something about making it on low income.

One, I don't have any secret to doing so. But I aught to, I suppose.

I think I'm a bit different. A lot VISTA talk was about sacrificing by making such a low income for a year. I get the impression that for a lot of you, this is a big change. I, on the other hand, have hardly ever made more than I'm making now. And in fact, had been unemployed since June when I started my service in September.

Background Checks


Does anyoneknow how one goes about doing a background check?

We had a guy come in to volunteer a while ago, and he seemed okay. but until that point we hadn't had anyone come with us that the MoLLIE supervisor didn't know. Everyone had already worked with MoLLIE before. And for some reason, Jeanne and I thought the same thing at the same time after he left, 'what do we really now about this guy?'

It was surprising to me that in 5 years, the idea of doing background checks on people had not occured to those running a program that works regularly with children. That's like a no brainer, right? There's laws about this sort of thing, right? Well, from now on we are going to do checks on employees and volunteers, we just have to figure out how.

Comment from Andrea Collopy on October 17, 2006 - 4:27pm

Generally people have to go to a "background check company" and get fingerprinted. The fingerprinting aspect is crucial to find out if the person has any recorded criminal offenses, especially if it involves children. Simply looking someone up online does not tell you much. Check with local organizations, especially those that work with youth (maybe the YMCA?), and see who they use to do background checks. Either let them know who you are or pretend to be a volunteer and find out where you would have to go to get a background check. Hope this helps a little!

Comment from Corey Funderburk on October 17, 2006 - 5:32pm

I ran into the same sort of questions as we are helping with a mentoring program here. The volunteers are doing some work with the YMCA who requires them to be fingerprinted (they call it "livescan") and also receive a TB test. I guess for the fingerprinting you would need to find a local place in your area, the Y here does it on their own I believe. I did some research for the TB tests and found out that the county does offer free and/or low costs TB screenings, so your city might as well. As far as a real "background" check, such as criminal history and what-not, I believe that the state or city website has a lot of that information or else they give information to websites like SafetyNet and Meagan's Law. Hope that helps at least a little!

Comment from Laura Hanley on October 17, 2006 - 5:41pm


 I'm actually in the process of going through the whole background check process for the YMCA (for the same program that Corey mentioned in her comment).  I haven't actually physically gone in yet, so I can't tell you exactly how it's done, but my next step is to go in for  "Live Scan Service," which will include fingerprinting.  The Y here uses Identix Identification Services to conduct their background checks.  You may want to check out their website to see what sort of information they have there, although I can't make any promises as to how useful it may be as I haven't visited it myself.  Their website is www.identix.com.  Good luck and hope it helps!

Comment from Richard T. Anderson on October 18, 2006 - 8:40am

Thanks all for your helpful comments. I hope I can be so helpful in the future.



Comment from Laura Mieczkowski on October 18, 2006 - 2:09pm

I just went throught the same process. Go to the DCFS website for the state you are working in and they will tell you what you need, as well as give suggestions of places you can try. I've also found other organizations that work with children in your area, with whom your NPO might be friendly with generally give good advice.

Good luck,


New CTC VISTA Project Flyer


Bad Old Clipart Made NewHere's an updated copy of our CTC VISTA Project flyer. It's handy if people ask you how to get or become a CTC VISTA. Paul made it but I've been updating it - It's spurning me to want to learn more about Adobe InDesign.  I also enjoy Paul's treatment of old VISTA organizing clipart...

Recoil magazine


While at the PSO I wore a black t-shrit that said Recoil on it. Recoil is the name of a local free magazine printed on newsprint. On the front is a magazine devoted to local events and advertising, articles about and interviews of bands (local or those coming to town) and reviews of CD's local and national. On the back is a satire magazine of fake and funny news articles a la "The Onion". 

I was wearing this shirt when we took the big group photo. That photo that greats us when we all when we click on"vista blogs". The word Recoil has been removed from my shirt. I'm guessing someone thought that it was a possible copyright issue or something. But I hardly think a local Grand Rapids magazine will be suing AmeriCorp for use of the logo.

Comment from Paul Hansen on October 11, 2006 - 11:23am

Thank you Richard for trying to stur-up some controversy but, no, it was not censorship (I didn't know or care what recoil was) that lead me to remove the word from your shirt... and it was not concern for some copyright issue... it was *aesthetics* that made me do it. I just couldn't stand the sight of the word.

If it really matters to you, I would be willing to put it back... maybe in gray rather than white letters...


Comment from Richard T. Anderson on October 11, 2006 - 1:26pm

No, that's okay Paul. No biggie.

It is probably better from an aesthetic point of view.

I hope my blog wasn't irritating or out of line in some way.



Comment from Paul Hansen on October 12, 2006 - 12:08pm

Your blog entry was in no way out of line. If it was, I would have simply deleted it.

Comment from Richard T. Anderson on October 13, 2006 - 3:59pm

Good to know.


Oh my. Now that's the power.




Does anyone know if there is a way to be alerted when someone comments on your blog? Or somewhere where recent activity is summarized so that you don't have to look at every one? Thanks!


Comment from Richard T. Anderson on October 2, 2006 - 4:23pm

Great idea! I second the motion that we have an alert for comments somewhere. Either when we log in something that says "New Blog Comments" or an email.

I think we have to talk to Ben about this. Hopefully he is reading blogs, but we may have to email him directly.

Peace, Rich

Comment from danielle martin on October 2, 2006 - 10:46pm

Hey Corey,

I'll check with Ben about the notification, but a better aggregation page is coming very soon, complete with latest comments as well.




Wow...I'm glad everybody seems to be having a super-fun time in San Diego. I've spent the whole week updating 16 iBooks, using only a single installation disc, and a slow internet connection. fun.

Also, I finally got around to applying for food stamps. I'm not sure how much they are giving me, but it's not going to be as much as I had hoped. It turns out that if I had applied BEFORE the PSO, none of my "living stipend" would count as income, but having applied after my term of service began, it all counts as income. Making me poor, but not poor enough.

Comment from danielle martin on October 1, 2006 - 9:14am

Hey Gariet,

Where are you going to post your video? May I plug Blip.tv, then you could tag it "ctcvista" and it'll show up on our site! Check out my vlog on Blip if you'd like - http://mizzd2006.blip.tv/.

Did you hear anything yet from the MNN folks about digital distribution?


Comment from gariet cowin on October 2, 2006 - 2:12pm

I had a meeting with a couple other PCM folks last week, where we discussed the possibility of working with MNN (and a few other places around the country) on a digital distrubution network. I don't know a whole lot about it yet, but I think something should be happening with that fairly soon.