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News >  K-12 education

Media artist refurbishes computers, laptops as starter machines for people in need

UPDATED: Wed., Jan. 20, 2021

By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

Local media artist Linny Dee has been refurbishing cast off computers and laptops and is now in search of an organization or program that is in need of “starter” computers for basic tasks like applying for jobs.

Her mission started simply enough. When she was younger, she and her father would go to the Eastern Washington University surplus sale every year, where everything from furniture to outdated computers are sold.

“They used to have a ton of computers all the time that were discarded,” the Cheney native said.

One year she bought two computers because she wanted something to make art on.

“I just started doing some tinkering on it, doing some updates, fixing things,” she said.

She never ended up using the computers for her art, but she kept them. She began attending Evergreen State College, where she met some international students who didn’t have computers . One of her refurbished computers went to a student with a young family. The student had previously stayed in the campus library most nights until midnight in order to use the library computers, arriving home when her family was in bed.

The computer was basic, but it served its purpose.

“She used that computer for a year, year and a half,” Dee said. “She got her degree and more importantly, she didn’t have to worry about staying in the campus library all night.”

Dee was inspired to get more computers and work to make them usable.

“I thought this was a really good idea,” she said.

She loads Microsoft Office and other basic programs to each computer.

“I work with what I have,” she said.

Many of her laptops are elderly in computer terms, some dating back to 2003. They may not be state of the art, but they can be used to apply for jobs and do homework, Dee said.

“I can get them running,” she said. “They can serve a purpose.”

The computers she refurbishes are intended to fill the gap until the person can get a better computer.

“It’s still better than nothing,” she said. “It’s a vehicle to get things done.”

Having a computer and a smartphone is key these days, Dee said. Most businesses only accept online job applications.

“Everything is moving faster and faster to the digital age,” she said. “They’re pretty much vital at this point. You can’t do anything without a computer, a smartphone or both.”

Dee earned her degree in theater and film from Evergreen in 2019. She said she’s in a high-risk category for COVID-19 and refurbishing computers has given her something to do while she quarantines at home to avoid getting sick.

Dee said she has seven computers that she’s completed and has been reaching out to local organizations to find where there is a need for them. She’s also accepting donations of old computers that she can refurbish and find new homes for. She accepts laptops and desktop computers.

“Laptops are definitely the ideal option, but I take both,” she said.

Since older computers often lack built-in web cameras, she’s accepting donations of web cameras in addition to mice, keyboards, monitors and headsets.

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