Report of the Chair/
We're indebted to Charles Dickens for providing the nearly perfect phrase
to introduce a report of a year in the life of Chebucto Community Net -
"It was the best of times. It was the worst of times."
It would be difficult to imagine a time in which so much went wrong but,
in going wrong, seemed to lead to so much that went right.
Last June--the month of our ninth birthday--Chebucto suffered a major
equipment failure whose aftermath lasted throughout "the summer of our
discontent." Technical volunteers and paid staff worked around the clock,
quite literally at times, to restore some semblance of normal service. At
the same time, they were struggling to deal with those twin monsters of
the Internet, viruses rampant and spam monumental. Hardware was found to
be worn out and unsalvageable. Our bills for new equipment mounted and
mounted. And we feared for the future on a number of scores.
We were afraid of a significant loss of membership as our service limped
along, well below strength. But although some users were quite justifiably
disappointed at our less than stellar performance, the mass defection
never occurred. Users wrote to thank the technical team for their hard
work and to express a new appreciation for Chebucto's role as a dedicated
spam and virus fighter. One of my favourite letters came at a time when
the team was fighting the so-called SoBig virus. It said, "Compared to you
guys, SoBig is just so small." And at the end of the year, Chebucto showed
a marginal increase in membership, for the first time since 1996.
Our fear that equipment replacement costs would have a disastrous effect
on our hard-won financial stability also proved ill-founded. All purchases
were funded out of operating revenue with no impact on our reserve funds,
allowing us to end our fiscal year with a small surplus.
The Inner City Project, in which Chebucto had formed a partnership with
the Halifax Inner City Initiative and Genuine Progress Index-Atlantic,
completed the first of what was to have been a three year project. The
management focuses of each of the three groups did not prove easy to mesh,
however, and the project did not proceed as originally planned. But
Chebucto did complete all of its undertaking during the year and in doing
so, made many contacts and identified a number of areas in which we can
contribute through working directly with the inner city community.
Recently, we have become associated with the Nova Scotia branch of the
Canadian Volunteerism Initiative. Through this group we have joined the
Halifax Regional CAP Association, the CAP Society of Cape Breton County
and the Community Services Council of Newfoundland and Labrador in an
agreement to assist voluntary organizations in Nova Scotia to strengthen
their technological capacity. You'll be hearing more about this venture in
We continue to reach out externally. In June we partnered with HRM CAP for
an exhibit at the 50+ Expo held at Exhibition Park. September found us
back at Pier 20 for Word on the Street, answering questions, showing our
PowerPoint presentation on Internet safety, handing out brochures and
hightailing it out of there just ahead of Hurricane Juan. Mark Alberstat's
"Mousepad" column is now in its second year of appearing every second week
in the Sunday Herald. Our activities in developing WiFi were
understandably deflected as we coped with last year's technical challenges
but will be back on our agenda this year.
We have considerable work ahead of us. We must find ways of making
Chebucto's array of services much more widely known, as a means of
generating more new accounts. In this, as has always been the case, our
current members are our most effective ambassadors and I encourage you
strongly to promote Chebucto vigorously within your own circles.
In his tenth anniversary message, Chebucto's first Chair, David Trueman,
congratulates "the entire Chebucto community for the success you have
built together." On the brink of entering our second decade, we will need
to continue to work together in service to our community.
Happy Birthday. Carry it on.
Chair, Chebucto Community Net