The Richmond Church of the Brethren provides free space for me and some other volunteers to operate this "Hardware Coop". We take in computer hardware that people are ready to get rid of. As our resources permit, we test it, spec it, label and inventory it, install Linux and provide "hardware grants" to those who need cheap or free hardware. What we can't re-use, we recycle.
We also learn a lot in the process. Jonathan Ulrich helped us put DD-WRT on a wireless router so it would function as a repeater, providing internet access to the room.
I built a four-seat thin-client computer lab with good performance using LTSP and Edubuntu. The thin client approach allowed us to bring 366Mhz/64Mb systems back to life by connecting them a reasonably powerful server. (Which was just an XP desktop that had been slow for lack of a memory upgrade). When the lab setup is stable again, perhaps we'll be able to grant the entire 4-seat lab to a non-profit.
With our new reliable internet access, we are able to be much more productive with our troubleshooting, research and general organization.
Soon I hope to be organized enough to take on more volunteers to share the fun and satisfaction of hardware recycling. (Not to mention preferred access to the latest hardware donations!). Also, our current resources prevent us from accepting donations from the general public. So far, the congregation and our friends have provided enough e-waste to keep us busy!
We could use help getting the valuable parts of our inventory into a spreadsheet, so we can publish what we have give out as hardware grants.
Soon I hope to organize a field trip to Free Geek Columbus. They are a model of what our future could be. I expect the visit could be inspirational as well as educational.