Support Wikipedia

Joining volunteer projects is my favorite social activity. I have consistently been pleased to meet the kind of people who would also volunteer to work on projects which interest me.

Sanjeevani Booti is a non-governmental organization in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh in North India. I founded it with Raghvendra (Nandan) Upadhyay, a friend who I met and worked with while I was in India. Varanasi is the holiest city in Hinduism so in addition to having a population of more than three million, it gets a huge influx of tourists. It is close enough to Kathmandu to have received an influx of persons affected by the Nepali Civil War and trafficked Nepali women and children in general, it is on the highway connecting Pakistan with Bangladesh and therefore gets a lot of Afghani heroin bound for China, it has a major university and therefore sees a lot of smart kids circumventing the traditional arranged marriage system and dating by means of social networking websites, for religious reasons it has a lot of what Westerners would call transsexuals, and it has a lot of tension because of the changes brought by globalization. Our organization is the only one teaching about HIV, and for the reasons I named and others, it is a prime location to try to reach people. I got involved in this kind of work in February 2007 and actually began working with others to form the NGO in May 2007.

I am on the community advisory board of Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center’s HIV Vaccine Trials Unit. Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center is a medical research institute in Seattle. The HIV Vaccine Trials Unit is a division of a network within Fred Hutch that manages the largest civilian HIV vaccine research projects sponsored by the United States. The community advisory board is a group of about fifteen people who are interested in being more involved in advocating to the research teams about the ethics of research on behalf of community interests. I have been with them since October 2007.

I edit Wikipedia as user bluerasberry. Wikipedia is my favorite website because it is the single greatest resource ever designed for collecting summarized information.

I generally advocate the creation of free content and open content, separately or together as users like. I support activism done in the name of the Copyleft Movement. Everything I write or produce, including all content that I post online for any reason unless I say otherwise, is posted under Creative Commons non-attributive share alike licensing. I want anyone who wants access to any of my work, humble though it may be, to be comfortable in doing whatever they want with it. My saying this is retroactive to all work I have ever done in any media and I intend it to apply indefinitely into the future to all work I may produce at any time.

These are some organizations for which I used to volunteer.

Books to Prisoners is a Seattle-based organization that accepts requests for books from incarcerated persons and tries to fulfill those requests with donated books and donated money for postage. They are located at 45th and 16th. To volunteer for them you show up, read request letters from clients, search through their bookshelves to find a good book to meet the client’s request, then you wrap it and address it. This organization acts under Left Bank Books (at the Public Market on Pike) because most states have laws saying that only bookstores can mail books to prisoners. I used to go to them in autumn 2007 to spring 2008.

The Defender Association is one of Seattle’s largest public defense organizations. This means that when people are accused of crimes and cannot afford an attorney, they can get a free lawyer here. I was in their intern investigator program. They would give me a police report detailing the arrest of some client, then I would interview the arresting officer and any witnesses and visit the crime scene. Learning how to prepare questions and conduct interviews has been one of the most useful skills I have ever developed. I was here in summer 2004 and summer to autumn 2006.

The Henry Art Gallery is part of the University of Washington but its location on the edge of the campus make it highly accessible to non-students. They pull in some great shows. When I first came to Seattle in late 2001 they had a Takashi Murakami exhibit and about a year later they had James Turrell there. I had just come to a new city with no money and no knowledge of contemporary art and they put me through an art history class and made me a docent. I have gone to as many art exhibits at every gallery I could ever since. I especially recommend the Youth in Focus exhibits that they host, because it is important to engage young people in cultural institutions like the art world. I volunteered here between 2002 and 2005; my last year of undergraduate work broke me away.

Free and Clear is actually a commercial entity that has developed a business model to do work that is traditionally either non-profit or a government expenditure. I worked as paid staff here who helped people quit using tobacco. Their marketing strategy was to get paid by health insurance companies and the government to get people to quit using tobacco. In return, the health insurance’s beneficiaries and the persons who would be on government welfare would make fewer claims, because their quitting tobacco use would improve their health. It is unfortunate that insurance is a privatized industry that profits from governmentally-funded controls, but I think health is such a large industry that in this case it has been mutually beneficial for both public and private entities to invest in preventative measures together. I have thought a lot about this job and how their strategies could apply to generate funding for other traditionally non-profit awareness programs. I was here in early 2007.

Literacy*Americorps is a division of Americorps that seeks to teach literacy. The way it works is that the government provides funding for local non-profit organizations to pay a stipend to a coordinator. This coordinator then recruits and trains volunteers to assist with some project. I was a volunteer under one of these coordinators from November 2008 to June 2009, and the project we were doing was individually tutoring persons incarcerated at King County Correctional Facility whatever they needed to know to pass their GED test.

911 Media is a non-profit video production facilitation organization. I have taken classes here, used their equipment, and visit often. I know that I lot of people need their services and equipment, but the organization has not reached its full potential because of lack of money and lack of good community producers. I am always thinking of how to help because I know a lot of people need video content and people without much budget for this really ought to be sharing the equipment and production facility.

One response to “volunteer”

  1. celeste royce

    Hello Lane,

    I hope this finds you enjoying a well-deserved warm, peaceful summer. I was unable to reach you by the email I have so I hope you actually read this. I was sorry to hear of the loss of your mother; my mother died so many years ago from alcohol and breast cancer and my heart goes out to you.

    You may recall I mentioned that I would like to present the student wikipedia editing experience at the national OBGYN education conference, APGO/CREOG, which is in March in San Antonio. Would you be interested in working together on a presentation, for a breakout session or roundtable ( i.e., large 50+ audience, 90 minutes, with group activity of some sort, vs. smaller 10-20 people, 1 hour, at a table top presentation, also ideally with an activity of some sort)? The abstracts for presentations are due August 1st, and I would be delighted to work with you on this. If you are not interested, please let me know if there are any restrictive constraints I need to be mindful of from your perspective- I am very excited about the experience and ams eager to share with the education community, but don’t want to step on any toes or offend institutions or people. Also, if you just are not interested in this venue (and I would completely understand that) would you be willing to send some more of the paper pamphlets etc yoou shared with us while you were here in Boston? And lastly, if you are not interested, any chance you might review a presentation if it gets accepted?

    Please let me know your thoughts, and especially if there is some reason I should not pursue this from your perspective.
    Thanks, I look forward to working with you again. Rest easy in the warmth of the summer and of your friends and family.

    Celeste Royce, MD

    Director, Obstetrics and Gynecology, Bowdoin Street Health Center

    Co- Director, Obstetrics and Gynecology Resident Ambulatory Practice
    Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
    Instructor, Harvard Medical School

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purpose of this blog

This is Lane Rasberry's personal blog. None of the information on this blog is private, but it is personal and I have not written it with the intent to make it of public general interest. Anyone visiting this site has my permission to use anything they find here for friendly, share-alike purposes.