ACTS Institute Inc


June 14, 2009

(Autobiographical Summary of Computer-Related Activities Conducted by Charlotte Plotsky of ACTS Institute, Inc., a nonprofit tax-exempt Illinois-based organization)

I first became interested in new technologies for my small consulting and technical assistance business in the ‘70s. ( ACTS By Charlotte Plotsky). I bought the first VCR on the market, an RCA VHS monster (compared to later VHS recorders) and a Commodore 64 PC. I used the latter primarily for word processing and some data base management, e.g. for mailings, and adapted a very simple address mailing label software program to inventory educational materials.

1985, showing me standing and talking artist Evadene Judge through her first use of a drawing tool at the computer.

1980 – 1982 – (Written Materials Only)

After I helped co-found a small nonprofit tax-exempt organization, ACTS Institute, Inc., in Illinois, I decided to conduct an overview of the new information utilities and report on it in the Institute’s VISTAS periodical series “for people who care about knowing.” I found so much worthwhile material for our market, I decided to devote two entire issues (Vol. I No. 2 and Vol. I No. 3) of our bi-monthly to it, and included a glossary of terms, as well. VISTAS on Information and Telecommunications (Part I) was published in March/April. 1981, and Part II was published May/June 1981. At the end of the year I did an update. Finally, I put both issues, the update, the glossary + additional materials into a Report Form, VISTAS on our Information Age and the Telecommunications Revolution,” published in 1982. I also began collecting cartoons relevant to the subject.

1989, photo of me awarding a Continuing Education Credit (CEU) Certificate to ACTS Institute member Sandra Gaynes, upon her successful completion of a computer tutorial program sponsored by ACTS in Kansas City, Mo that I taught.

1981 – 1983 – (Visual Materials, Seminar with written materials and Exhibits)

I worked on several media projects. My first was called “Video: A Community Development Tool,” produced in 1981and previewed in 1982, as well as 1983 in Illinois by the Institute. Working with Rock Valley College in Rockford, Illinois and Artist Susanne Kaufman, I also had video footage made of Ms. Kaufman’s “Connections” art series, based on the computer chip and the brain. .A third video featured footage taken on site in Miami, Florida under my direction, made possible by a $1,000 award I obtained from Altos Computer Systems in 1983. That footage was on Miami-Dade Community College’s “Project Camelot,” which I had featured in VISTAS on Education and Learning (Vol. II No.2).

I also put together a seminar for a conference held at the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago, Illinois in 1983, and included handouts. The Institute also had an exhibit table with the videos we had made running on a monitor. Handout materials were also made available there, which another one of our Resource Faculty Member (Barbara Abrajano) supervised.

This is a photo of me with Institute member Dorothy Howard of Kansas City, visiting us at ACTS Institute's ACT I Creativity Center in Lake Ozark, MO, where I taught a number of people.

1983-93 – (Acquisitions, Research & Applications

In 1983, we began acquiring some published materials on computers for the Institute’s free lending library. That same year, I was featured as Edith Bunker in the video of a script, “Archie and the Community,” a wry commentary on our computer age, performed in Illinois.

I also began writing proposals for grants. The first one I got was from the Illinois Arts Council in 1984 for a Short Term Artist Residency by Joan Truckenbrod of the Computer Graphics Department of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Together with the Evanston Arts Alliance, the Institute sponsored a seminar for teachers and artists in the North Shore Suburbs of Chicago to learn more about the artistic potential of the computer for them and their students.

In 1985, the Institute was awarded two more grants: one was to contract with Northwestern University School of Music to conduct a study for us on computer-generated music software, and the other was with John Manning of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s program regarding computer-generated art and design software. Based on the consultants’ recommendations, ACTS purchased some software and began using it.

In another video made possible by a small grant from the Illinois Arts Council,. I demonstrated what a small nonprofit could do with very simple software, e.g. banners, flyers, note cards, posters, etc. In the same video I interviewed an artist, Evadene Judge, who had no prior experience with the computer as an artist after I had shown her how to use some simple graphic design tools and she demonstrated them.

In addition, I obtained $1,000 grants from both the Illinois Arts Council and the Missouri Arts Council which helped the Institute’s ACT 1 Creativity Center’s artists/writers colony in Lake Ozark, MO provide hardware, software and technical assistance for musicians, visual artists and writers should they wish to avail themselves of it. In 1985, Artist Evadene Judge offered workshops under Institute auspices on “Techsketch,” “MicroIllustrator” and “The Print Shop.”

In 1986, after I moved to Kansas City, Missouri to be closer to the ACT 1 Creativity Center of ACTS Institute, I began offering computer tutorials free of charge to older women to use as tools for personal and vocational growth. I did this under the Institute’s umbrella so that we could award them CEUs (continuing education units). Some of these women then did volunteer work with the Institute, using the technology to help with mailing lists, inventory projects, etc. At least one woman was able to obtain a part-time job with a public radio station as a result. Also in 1986, Evadene Judge created several designs for the Institute for us to use in promotional and marketing materials, and was again featured at ACT 1 in Lake Ozark, Missouri.

1992, This is of a letter Dorothy wrote me on how she applied her new-found knowledge.

In 1993, I expanded my tutorials in Kansas City to help plan and execute an Electronic Networking Workshop for Potpourri’s Annual Writer’s Forum.

When I moved to Florida in 1992, I retired from this kind of work except for my own benefit as a writer/editor.