(by Timothy Falconer, from newsletter)

As I write this, Hurricane Omar is about to make landfall on the US Virgin Islands. From my talks with our friends, it’s fair to say that everyone’s scared. Guy Benjamin School has been closed all week. Ferry and mail service have been stopped. Mary Burks has moved her live-in boat to Hurricane Hole. Jan Kinder has been boarding up buildings since 6 AM. Everyone’s braced for impact.

Looking at the satellite images tonight, I’m reminded of our first Waveplace proposal, which starts: “Each summer and fall in the Caribbean, locals watch the weather with a collective pending dread. Every counterclockwise swirl of white that makes its way westward over the Atlantic might be heading their way.” Later it discusses how the Caribbean suffers greatly from “economic downturns”, which couldn’t be more relevant this October, with a very bleak tourist season expected.

From the start, Waveplace has had the same mission: “to create a thriving new industry in the Caribbean independent of tourism.” By teaching children to create with computers, we’re setting the stage for a future where they can earn a living exporting their creativity to the world without leaving their homes. Never has this need been greater than right now.

In the last year, Waveplace has achieved some pretty remarkable things. We’ve held pilots in Nicaragua, Florida, Haiti, and the Virgin Islands. We’ve given laptops and training to more than 100 children and taught 25 adults to become Waveplace mentors. We’ve shot some incredible video and created two versions of our courseware which are now being used by groups around the world.

To finish out the year, we hope to complete our documentary and courseware. Before that though, we’re having a live video event with all four pilot areas on Friday, October 24th at 4pm ET (GMT-4). Children from St John, Haiti, Florida, and Nicaragua will present their Etoys storybooks live to the world, so be sure to tune in by visiting http://waveplace.com/awards. If you can’t make that time, you’ll still be able to watch the recorded video later.

Speaking of video, Bill Stelzer somehow found time away from his own hurricane preparations to upload his latest new video of our pilot in Nicaragua. Watching this one brought me to tears. Never has the heart of our efforts been so skillfully expressed. Bill’s a true talent. I can’t wait to see his fuill documentary.

(the next morning) Great news! Everyone’s okay. Omar missed Saint John.

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