New Nonprofit Smallbean Recycles Donated Electronics So They Can Do Great Things in New Places

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Smallbean (http://www.smallbean.org), collects and reuses donated electronics from the United States as a means for providing technology education and preserving culture in the developing world. Smallbean believes that the recently retired but still functioning electronic gadgets collecting dust under your bed can be productive again in the hands of someone new.

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“ The point of Smallbean is to recycle the value stored in your old laptop to support technology education and as a means for sharing diverse life stories and cultures around the world.”

Meet Smallbean, (http://www.smallbean.org ), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, that collects and reuses donated electronics from the United States as a means for providing technology education and preserving culture in the developing world. Smallbean believes that the recently retired but still functioning electronic gadgets collecting dust under your bed can be productive again in the hands of someone new.

“I’m guilty of it so I know that there are lots of other people out there with iPods that have been replaced by iPhones and wonderfully functioning digital cameras just sitting dark and unused in the back of a drawer,” says Sean Hewens of the inspiration for starting Smallbean. “We often hold onto our unused gadgets because we inherently know they have some value. The point of Smallbean is to recycle the value stored in your old laptop to support technology education and as a means for sharing diverse life stories and cultures around the world.”

The organization took seed in 2008 while Hewens was working as an attorney for the United Nations in Tanzania. Therefore, it is fitting that Smallbean is launching the Citizen Archivist Project at a public secondary school in Kwala, Tanzania in February 2010.

As part of the Citizen Archivist Project, Smallbean is working with students and teachers to supply technology such as computers, digital cameras, audio recording devices, and solar suitcases that participants will use to document events in the everyday lives of their communities. The technology and solar power system used during the Citizen Archivist Project will form the foundation of permanent computer labs in the communities participating in the project. To compliment its efforts internationally, Smallbean is collaborating with Boston-area academic institutions to create an Internet accessible digital archive that will serve as an electronic library for the media collected by the Project.

As an example of how an out of date iPod can be of help, a $10 microphone used in conjunction with most recent iPods turns the device into a digital tape recorder, giving a student in Tanzania the ability to record the oral history of a grandparent in a tribal dialect distinct to a tiny geographical area of Africa.

Smallbean launches its next Citizen Archivist Project in Kwala, Tanzania in February 2010. In advance of our departure, we’re holding a series of national fundraising events. Next up is New York City, where we’ll be hosting a holiday benefit show on December 13th at Cameo in Williamsburg with performances by up and coming NYC bands, Aleksandra Dubov, Colin Steel & The Wire*Taps, and She Loves Me She Loves Me Not (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h5ie798UlKU). Representatives from Smallbean will be on hand to talk about the Citizen Archivist Project and collect in-kind electronic donations.

For more information about Smallbean and the NYC event, please check out the Smallbean website (http://www.smallbean.org). Smallbean is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit and all donations are tax deductible.

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Kristy Thomley

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