East Cleveland Undivided about bridging the digital divide

Submitted by Norm Roulet on Fri, 06/16/2006 - 03:38.

(This article was written as a progress report for the East Cleveland newsletter to residents of the city,
from my role as a technology advisor to the city, and includes very exciting developments for all of Northeast Ohio) 

Greg Williams, son of Hot Sauce Williams Founder Lamond Williams, helping bring surplus computers into the new digital divide bridging center they are helping create at their property in East Cleveland - the awesome, historic former Hough Bakery Complex on Lakeview - where the ongoing REALNEO team is founding an open source incubator for entrepreneurs to help truly jump start the new economy in NEO... at the Star Incubator (the complex was the Star Bakery before it was the Hough Bakery).

The City of East Cleveland is leading Northeast Ohio into the new economy by bridging the digital divide. This means the City of East Cleveland is upgrading our internal computer network and services, increasing city bandwidth to the Internet, enhancing our website services, making sure all of our residents who want and need personal computers may have them at home, providing training in some computer programs, and helping residents get access to the Internet at the lowest possible cost or for free. This all provides a "bridge" for residents to go across the "digital divide" to the "new economy". Welcome!


REAL NEO stars Joe Stanley (doing the heavy lifting), Greg Williams and Phil Lane, showing REAL NEO open source economic development in action, in East Cleveland.

There is no other community in Northeast Ohio providing such a comprehensive digital divide bridging program for its residents, and it is all made possible through support from the Cleveland Foundation and other supportive organizations and volunteers, at no cost to the city and residents - we've actually received well over $100,000 in foundation supported information technology upgrades, and this will save the city over $10,000 in telecommunications costs in the next year alone, and increase city efficiency and revenues.

REAL NEO star Phillip Williams is overseeing new technology deployment for
East Cleveland network upgrades, at the East Cleveland data center

In addition to making the City of East Cleveland more efficient and effective, this program, called East Cleveland Undivided, has already distributed over 70 free, reconditioned laptop and desktop computers to East Cleveland senior citizens and students at Shaw High School, and our volunteers are in the process of preparing 100s more computers for distribution to more residents this summer. By the end of 2006, the City is making certain every resident who wants a computer but cannot afford one will receive a computer and software for free.

The free computer program works like this...

Local volunteer technology consultants have arranged for large Northeast Ohio businesses and organizations to donate computers to the City of East Cleveland – computer donors have included Progressive Insurance, the Benish Friedlander law firm and Case University. Our volunteers reconfigure the computers with a free operating system called Ubuntu and other free software that is better than commercial software, and all free. The computers are then tested and matched with monitors, keyboards, and mice and given to residents who have shown interest to receive a computer, but are not able to afford purchasing new computers.


REAL NEO Superstars at the Helen S. Brown Senior Services Center teaching each other all they know about computing - intergenerational learing is especailly valuable for learning information technology... the young man is the expert in this room

Through the generous support of the Williams family, of Hot Sauce Williams, space and connectivity is being provided for this program in the former Hough Bakery complex on Lakeview, in East Cleveland, where the Inner Circle Restaurant is located. The Williams are also working with the City of East Cleveland and our volunteers to establish a start-up business incubator, community computer training center, digital arts center and Cyber Cafe, bringing the new economy directly to East Cleveland in many new ways.

On top of the East Cleveland Sewage and Water Building you'll notice a small square antenna - there is one on each major city building, and the interconnect to enable the high speed East Cleveland eGovernment network and high bandwidth connection with the Internet



The City of East Cleveland is also upgrading our eGovernment network. East Cleveland Chief Information Officer Abulimen Alli is leading the installation of high speed connections to the Internet for all major city facilities, including the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Center and the Helen S. Brown Senior Services Center. The Helen S. Brown Center has also upgraded its community computing center, serving our senior citizens, with the help of the MacGregor Foundation. Additional community computing centers are planned in other convenient locations around the community. Of course, the spectacular newly renovated East Cleveland library provides the community with a state of the art computer center, as well.

REAL NEO Superstar and City of East Cleveland CIO Abulimen Ali, configunring the network with a network engineer from IBM, which provides the final integration of all systems with the Internet.


The new, wireless, high speed East Cleveland eGovernment Network is being installed right now - you'll now see small square wireless antennas on top of all our major city buildings. The network will allow East Cleveland to offer new information services to staff, citizens and residents. While upgrading its network, the city is upgrading servers and software that help us run our government efficiently, and providing new information services to businesses and residents via the city Internet website and portal, at http://eastcleveland.org, which uses a unique, free technology to allow residents to better connect with government.

East Cleveland residents make excellent use of the East Cleveland


Looking forward, we are working to extend the internal network out into the community as a wireless "mesh" neighborhood network, offering better high speed connection to the Internet for residents and businesses in East Cleveland. This is one of the first such initiatives in the country, placing the City of East Cleveland and all residents at the forefront of the information revolution.

Over the next six months, the City expects to have enough computers processed to distribute 1,000 more desktop and laptop computers to residents, for use at home, and we expect to have several new Internet access options available to residents. Mayor Brewer will keep residents informed of progress on this initiative through our Town Hall meetings, the city website at http://eastcleveland.org and via this newsletter.

This program has been made possible through the East Cleveland 2010 collaboration between the City of East Cleveland, the Cleveland Foundation, Cleveland State University, OneCleveland and computer consultants David Porter, Norm Roulet, Phillip Williams, Ed Hauser and Sudhir Ragupathy, under the leadership of Mayor Brewer and Chief Information Officer Abulimen Alli.

For additional information on this comprehensive program, please contact East Cleveland Chief Information Officer Abulimen Alli, found on our website at http://eastcleveland.org/it, by email at abu [at] eastcleveland [dot] org and by calling city hall at 216-681-5020.

At the Star Center, REAL NEO STARS Greg Williams, Phillip Williams, Ed Hauser, Lamond Williams and Joe Stanley rest before dozens of computers just brought from Max Hayes High School for reprocessing with Ubuntu and other open source software for distribution back to graduates of the Cleveland Municipal School District Continuing Education Department Multi-Lingual, Multi-Cultural computer training program - one of the great education programs in the region - this is all volunteer so if you will help get in touch... norm [at] realinks [dot] us


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Congratulations Guys!

It is so inspiring to see the great work you guys drove forward yesterday - and I am so sorry critical appointments yesterday precluded my participation - I can't wait to jump in and join all of you in this effort and the many others which will be upcoming in  East Cleveland.   You truly are RealNEO stars , making outcomes that really matter happen.   As for the rest of the sustainability / community development cadre in the region - take note! We need to pull together a collaborative effort to holistically address those quality of life issues that will continue transform this great community and enhance the quality of life of all its residents.  The Digital Divide and Lead Eradication efforts  are two areas of high priority already taking shape in the form of transformation-based projects.


does my heart good...

It does my heart good to see this actually happening. So often, all that transpires is a lot of talking, projects are funded, directors are hired, salaries are paid, and then no action--or, worse yet, the public is sold out, the nonprofit and its employees become the most important entities in the equation, and the public interest gets betrayed.

I'm proud to know you guys. I am at your disposal. This looks like the real thing.

Norm Can Do More!

All right, all right...this is great progress, but for a hyper guy like Norm, it doesn't scratch the surface.  More..MOre MOORE! 



Jeff, you're not talking about that Dan T. III from up the hill, in 44106, are you?

Dan Moore's welcome at the Star

Although I think he has millions of square feet of his own entrepreneurial initiative around NEO, he can be a motivational advisor... 

I take your challenge - open source mapping is coming

You're right, Jeff... I'm just getting started. We've been working on putting together a group of open source computing, mapping, GIS, planning, supercomputing and environmental experts to create the ultimate colaboration to start planning NEO well - one intended outcome is planning the independent green republic of East Cleveland - the primary outcome will be eradicating lead poisoning in NEO by 2010.

Neomainstreet.com joins Star Inc.

My name is Joseph Stanley, founder of neomainstreet.com.  I am very excited about this opportunity to make Star Inc. my home base.  As an urban designer and space planner I look forward to working in East Cleveland with the community and civic leaders so that we can create a clear vision for the future of this city and implement it.  

your office mates

So, Joe, will you or Norm or somebody be keeping us up to date on your office mates, or co-tenants, or fellow denizens, or whatever you will call all of you assembled over there where once Hough was king?

Join Star Complex community - be a superstar

Just a bunch of new economy superstars saving the planet and humanity. Currently, this is home to all my personal intellectual property and initiatives and good deeds and those of many associates.

  • Being the world headquarters of Hot Sauce Williams, the world's best BBQ company...
    • I'm sure nobody outside the Star Complex knows that this is where Hot Sauce Williams produces their BBQ sauce for their outlets and for retail sales, and they produce sauces and salsas for others, and they work with the Botanical Gardens to teach children how to make the Victory Garden Salsa there - so they have a huge food production and bottling area for anyone who wants to try getting into that business (or adding a product to their mix).
    • They have a full commercial kitchen where they make all the great baked foods, greens, etc. for their restaurants  (on our first tour of the complex, they'd just finished the sweet potatoe pies... yum) - who wants to try getting into the food business, because you can cook up ideas here
    • We are the site of the Inner Circle Restaurant and the Hot Sauce Williams chain and the Williams will dig working with entrepreneurs on concepts to grow that... we'll already have the colest cyber cafe in the world so what else?

Also getting situated here are already many initiatives created and/or driven by a dynamic family of entrepreneurs and our community, including

  • East Cleveland 2010 - the collabration to make East Cleveland the world's healthiest, best educated, greenest, technologically savvy, most satisfying livable community in the world will now have a place in the community to share insight where it belongs
  • CCOAL - Concerned Citizens Organizing Against Lead - the nation's leading outreach, advocacy and lead eradication organization, founded by and serving the families who have been impacted by lead poisoning, and open to all people who want to eliminate this problem from society
  • NEO Mainstreet - Cleveland Institute of Art produced superstar designer and planner Joe Stanley based his senior project on redesign of the University Circle Triangle and Beach properties, and went on to found NEO Mainstreet to advance urban planning excellent - he will further his work from the Star, bringing great talent to the planning  community and East Cleveland via the complex
  • Joe Stanley, custom furniture - Joe Stanley is also a custom furniture designer, who's work is featured throughout the CIA Future Center - he will be available at the Star Center to work with customers, and will begin some prodcution at the complex
  • Hunsei Engineering - Gregory Arheghan is a Case Engineering graduate who will base his civil engineering practice at the Star Complex, bringing unique skills that compliment the development ahead in the neighborhood and complex
  • Great Lakes Wind - NEO Wind Tsar Jeff Buster has indicated he will base his Great Lakes Wind initiative at the Star Complex, helping bring wind energy and related manufacturing to a region that truly needs a visionary leader
  • East Cleveland Undivided - the community based initiative to bridge the digital divide in East Cleveland, including processing distributing used computers for free to residents and deploying a community Internet
  • The May Show - after the Cleveland Museum of Art killed the much loved May Show, I registered the name and URLs to keep that from being abused in any way - I view this as a community asset and will work with whoever is interested to return that to its rightful place as a brand for greatness in the Cleveland arts - first steps will include having art shows at the Star Complex and using technology to help area artists and the Cleveland arts sector become more successful
  • Cleveland School - I also registered this name to protect it for the arts community - the Cleveland School is the identity used to refer to a sector of artists from Cleveland from the past - I see it as a mark of excellence for the future
  • Star Media - as a result of an Excellence Roundtable of area filmmakers and film sector leaders, including Bernadette Gillota, Robert Banks and Laura Paglin, it was determined NEO needs a new type of "media arts center" - there are many models in the world and we will use the Star Center to experiment with related concepts, providing a media lab and incubator for rich media artists including filmmakers and musicians
  • East Cleveland documentary - Laura Paglin intends to produce a documentary about East Cleveland, and the Star Incubator will be at her disposal as needed
  • Star Sound - Charlie Mossbrook is well known in NEO as a top musician and music engineer and producer and he has agreed to operate programs out of the Star Center to help young musicians have access to the facilities and support they need to determine if they have what it takes to become a superstar outside the incubator
  • Star Radio and TV - as the Star Incubator will nurture music and film artists to create great content, we will provide technology to get that into the global community through Internet radio and television technologies
  • NEOPEN - as my partner Phillip Williams and myself are two of the most aggressive free and open source software (FOSS) proponents in the world, it is safe to say the Star Complex will be the center of FOSS awareness in this small corner of America - time to fill that void with 1,000s of new experts in the community, and we'll be driving the NEO FOSS revolution from the incubator
  • NEOPLAN - for about a year we've been talking about deploying an open source GIS mapping supercenter and now that initiative has a home
  • REALNEO - you know

I know I'm leaving out lots of activities... what else... you see the type of new economy mix we're driving and finding drawn to the Star Complex... innovative leaders of the new economy in technology, art and rich media, planning, design, development, health... and the Star Complex can handle all of that, plus anything one's heart and mind could imagine that fits in a multi-acre, multi-100,000 sq. ft. complex... you get the idea. If you want to part of this family - get in touch with norm [at] realinks [dot] us or phillip [at] realinks [dot] us. Terms are collaborative and cost is low - we'll ask everyone to throw a few bucks a day into a shared account to pay utilities and a bit to the Williams for rent - really struggling entreprenereurs who can't afford to help pay expenses will be welcome and all community members will be expected to work together as a team in peace - you'll have access to space, bandwidth, technology, and a mind-numbing array of other assets, and the coolest group of people I've ever known - no other rules on how this will all work yet so get together with us now and help build your Super Star Complex - be a superstar!

Now Realneo is cooking!

I think the coolest part of all of this is the location. The Williams family members are  some of Neo's most admirable entrepreneurs and their building has truly exciting potential for us. Since I found out that they are already outfitted with a professional kitchen, I have nt been able to stop thinking of ways to help them utilize its potential and improve the local cuisine. I know others have exciting ideas for the kitchen too.

Yes, at the Star Complex you can really get cooking

  • I'm sure nobody outside the Star Complex knows that this is where Hot Sauce Williams produces their BBQ sauce for their outlets and for retail sales, and they produce sauces and salsas for others, and they work with the Botanical Gardens to teach children how to make the Victory Garden Salsa there - so they have a huge food production and bottling area for anyone who wants to try getting into that business (or adding a product to their mix).
  • They have a full commercial kitchen where they make all the great baked foods, greens, etc. for their restaurants  (on our first tour of the complex, they'd just finished the sweet potatoe pies... yum) - who wants to try getting into the food business, because you can cook up ideas here
  • We are the site of the Inner Circle Restaurant and the Hot Sauce Williams chain and the Williams will dig working with entrepreneurs on concepts to grow that... we'll already have the colest cyber cafe in the world so what else?
  • I'm into IT and know how to create revolutions with that - who wants to revolutionize the food sector in NEO? We have the place for you to try at the professional level, right now, today.