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AGM 2002 Report of the Chair/External Committee Report
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AGM 2002 Report of the Chair/External Committee Report

Serving Your Community's Online Needs Since 1994.

Report of the Chair/
External Committee Report

[Photo: Chebucto Chair Marilyn MacDonald at AGM 2002]  Last year, when I made my report to the membership I said that, after a rocky start, the year 2001 had led to a renewal process within Chebucto and a search for relevance to a community whose needs have changed since our net was founded in 1994 but which, I believe, can still benefit from what we have to offer.

In 2002, moving on from the soul-searching of the previous year, we began to sense a direction and move toward making our visions become realities. You'll hear much more detail from the committee reports and the report of our treasurer. I would simply like to give you my sense of where we seem to be going in some specific areas: service to users, community projects and outreach, new technology, the state of governance and finance.

No question about the big news in user service. The much-heralded, long-awaited 56K dialup service became a reality. Also, an efficient spam filter service was implemented. Technical upgrades are a matter of course with us and you'll undoubtedly hear more when our technical chair makes his report.

If you were here last year, you'll remember the presentation on the Inner City Project. It is an effort to frame an asset map for the specific area of Halifax bounded by Cogswell, Agricola, North and Barrington Streets; to record data and to suggest methods of measurement by which the community can take charge of monitoring progress in its attempt to improve its quality of life.

Chebucto has entered into a partnership with GPI (Genuine Progress Index)-Atlantic and the Halifax Inner City Initiative to bring this about. Funding for the first year of what is planned as a three-year project has been secured from federal and provincial sources. We have an office on Gottingen Street. We have staff.

For its part, Chebucto, which is the technological driver on the project has been busy: a website has been set up by our office and is ready to be filled with information; a virtual community net is up and ready to go and can be used for account sign-ups by individuals, community organizations and businesses. Future features will include a searchable résumé bank, a searchable volunteer bank and others.

The External Committee of the Board has been active in various aspects of outreach. Last September, we were back at Pier 20 on the waterfront to again take part in Word on the Street, complete with new brochures, T-shirts and a lot more visitors to our booth. After a degree of courtship, The Coast finally came through with a feature article on us, noting that we're "the greatest deal in town." After more courtship, we convinced the Herald that a contributed column from Chebucto would be a good idea and "The Mousepad" skittered into view on January 26, print and online, and runs every secnd week in the Sunday Herald, written by board member Mark Alberstat, with occasional help from his friends.

Chebucto has established a group to plan its role in the rapidly developing area of wireless technology. A WiFi list has been established for online exchange of information and discussion. Recently, Arved Sandstrom, a longtime Chebucto member, has volunteered to lead the team in its efforts.

Both finance and governance have been stable for the year. Our financial position is good. The Board has had one resignation, that of Mark Rushton whose circumstances prevented his attending meetings in person. Mark has been a dedicated volunteer and he's still with us online, as an enthusiastic member of the WiFi group and of the External Committee. In his place and to finish out his term, the Board was fortunate to recruit Joan Jones, a well known human rights activist, newspaper columnist and a management committee member of the Inner City Project.

Renewal and relevance seem to have worked. But we have challenges. Membership, largely in the area of text-based users, has steadily declined. Overall membership fell from 2178 in 2001 to 1870 in 2002. But groups and organization accounts, both profit and not for profit, rose from 80 in 2001 to 122 in 2002. The cancellation by Dalhousie as of July 15 of its Premium Dialup Service and the university's recomendation to its members that they seek membership in Chebucto is bringing us a steady trickle of signups and we hope to pick up a good portion of its 600 subscribers.

On New Year's Day this year, a number of people, including several from Chebucto, got together for a special levee to celebrate the 20th birthday of the Internet. There was a cake, glasses were lifted in toasts and there was the predictale talk about how far things have come and where they're going. It wasn't a bad way to start the New Year.

Two months from now, Chebucto will mark its ninth birthday as a community-based Internet provider, a pioneer, one of the oldest in Canada. Nine years is a long time and it hasn't always been easy.

Bring on the cake!


Marilyn MacDonald
Chair, Chebucto Community Net














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