Alicia Merrill
Internship Report

What the project is about:

In an effort to reduce landfill use and to encourage recycling of household items that are still useful, the 2Good2Toss website was created. It is a site where locals can post either items they have or items they are looking for. The site is free to use and offers and easy and efficient forum for the transfer of used goods. My job for the semester is to become familiar with the site and to promote its use in the community. I will give presentations to local associations about the website in an attempt to increase its use. I have to keep track of the number of items on the site over the course of the semester to see if I am having any impact.

How I approached the issue:

Based on my own background growing up with horses and horse people, I decided to promote the use of our website through the local farming/ranching/riding community. I worked with Sandra Cannon to learn about the site then contacted local groups about the site. The first positive response I received was from the Valley Girls Barrel Racing Association who invited me to their meeting on March 16. I developed a short speech to give to the group about the site and got copies of brochures from Sandra. Sandra and I are tried to contact a second group for me to present to (possibly the Rotary Club) that was more business related but we didn’t find anyone who would let me come speak. I also worked on flyers to put in local feed and farm supply stores.

What I did:

My first presentation went well. The audience was 16 women varying in age from 13 to 78. They are a great group and seemed interested in the site. Many of the women told me that they thought it was a great idea and a few asked about items they would like to get rid of. One woman asked if the site would continue to be available even after I graduated. I got the impression that several of them would try it out and I hope they brochure will remind them to do so.

I was unable to find another group to present to. I contacted a total of fifteen groups in the area and the VGBRA was the only one to give me time to speak to them. Sandra and I discussed the best way to approach the issue for the later part of the semester. We decided that I should make posters that speak to the horse industry. I went to the barn where I keep my horse to take some pictures for the posters. I took pictures of old PVC pipe, wires, old fence panels, and some old refrigerators. Unfortunately, the entire roll of film was overexposed and none of the pictures were useful. I looked around on the internet for pictures to use and found several pictures of pipes, scarp lumber, fence panels and old wire. I emailed a total of eight webmasters to ask for permission to use their photos in my website. I still haven’t heard back from any of them so I was unable to complete the poster side of the project.

Concerns:

I worry that the website is not very user friendly. It looks a lot more complicated than it is and I am afraid that this will scare some people away from using it. Another big concern I have is size of the existing user group. I worry that a small effort like my presentation will not be enough to jump start the use of the site. It seems like something huge where lots of people all contribute at once will be necessary to really get things going. I worry that without a dramatic increase in the use of the site it will continue to remain stagnant with only ten or fifteen items. There isn’t enough variety in the available and wanted items on the site right now to attract a lot of users and keep their interest.

Reflections:

I found the project frustrating at many times. It was hard to talk to so many groups who weren’t willing to give me any time to tell them about the program. When I did present, the group seemed very interested in the site but there wasn’t any increased use of the website as a result of my speech. When I switched to posters, everything I tried failed. Its hard for me to see such a great resource for the Walla Walla area not being used. I think targeting the horse community is a great idea but I’m not sure how to jump start their use of the website.


Contacts:

Sandra Cannon: sandra.cannon@pnl.gov

Sharon Johnson: SJohnson@co.walla-walla.wa.us

Kate Johnson: pinesiskin@gmail.com

Bobo (VGBRA): bobomac@charter.net