The Jesse Higginbotham Neighborhood Center

Formerly the “Valley Park Shelter”

On Saturday, October 6th in conjunction with the annual opening of the Mindtriggerz Project Training Lab at the Valley Park shelter, the Trust hosted its fall picnic. We were honored to have in attendance members of our City Government who coordinated a dedication ceremony in honor of Jesse. 11th District Council Member Peggy Henson, Deputy Director of Parks and Recreation Chris Cooperrider and the Trusts Director of Communications (and Jesse’s best friend) Jon Jones introduced the “Jesse Higginbotham Neighborhood Center.” Outdoor signs have been installed and an informational plaque mounted inside the Center.

The concept for the dedication had been in place for several years. Our former District Council Member, Richard Moloney (now Chief Administrative Officer of the Lexington-Urban Fayette County Government) suggested it immediately after learning of Jesse’s accident. We are thankful for the work he did and the work that both Peggy and Chris continued in order to bring this idea to reality.

The picnic was a great success with Mindtriggerz Project families past and present in attendance along with friends and supporters of our continued work. Jesse’s dad was also asked to serve on the Valley Park Activities Board to help rejuvenate the sports activities Jesse was so involved in as a youth.

The dedication was filmed by LFUCG's "City News"

The Mindtriggerz Project Training Lab is open at the Neighborhood Center each Saturday from October through May from 10am to 2pm. Please feel free to drop by and see our work in action. We continue collaborating with the Community Action Council and Cardinal Valley Elementary School to seek out and train low-income families who do not currently have a computer in their home. For more information on the purpose of our project, please visit Additionally, financial contributions as well as donations of working computers (Pentium 4 or higher) and components are very much appreciated. We encourage our community to help us help our children cross the “digital divide.”

The primary mission of the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust is to sponsor and support work in keeping with Jesse’s spirit of helping others. Please follow us on Facebook: and join the Dunbar Memorial Garden group: We encourage you to share our projects and mission with friends, family, coworkers and businesses as we continue work towards Jesse’s goals of equal access to technology and building a better community by helping others.


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Breaking the Silence: “Straightlaced” Documentary Event

Hannah Landers and Josh Shipman - Fall 2006

In January 2010, the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust in conjunction with the family of Hannah Landers as well as several other local organizations hosted the Kentucky premiere of the documentary “Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up.” We were overwhelmed by the outpouring of support for the premiere and were amazed at the “packed house” it drew. Money was raised both for a scholarship given in Hannah’s honor and a donation was made to the Trevor Project in honor of Josh Shipman.

On September 22, 2012 the film will again be shown during an event hosted by the organization Breaking the Silence: Empowering LGBT Youth in their Relationships. Again, the Trust will be involved. Among our Board of Directors is a recent graduate of the University of Michigan who was among the first members of Dunbar High Schools Gay-Straight Alliance. She knew Jesse, Josh and Hannah and has spent many hours assisting us with the various projects of the Trust. Natalia Truszczynski, a graduate student at the University of Kentucky, has been actively involved in a variety of LGBTQ groups and domestic violence prevention organizations. She is a tireless advocate for acceptance, for change and for helping others. Natalia will be among several speakers at the upcoming showing of “Straightlaced.”

Additionally, in honor of our beloved Hannah, the Trust will be donating a $50 gift certificate to be used as a door prize at this event. The recipient will receive their personal selection of native plants propagated at the Dunbar Memorial Garden next Spring.

We are very honored to be a part of this event and ask everyone to come out and support it, to continue to work for change in attitudes and policies that are inclusive of ALL and to especially remember to support our young people, they are what matters most.

Save the date: Saturday, September 22, 2012
“Straightlaced: How Gender’s Got Us All Tied Up”
Kentucky Theatre, 214 East Main Street, Lexington, Kentucky
10am to noon

Additional information on the event may be found on Facebook at:
Breaking the Silence is on Facebook at:

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So many to thank but where to begin? The incredible success of our 3rd Native Plant Sale

We could not have done this without you.

Today we hosted our “3rd annual Native plant sale” at Dunbar and raised just under $800 ($770 to be exact) – our most successful Garden event ever. Between the high-fives, group hugs and UNO games, our volunteer force of a dozen of the best, brightest and hardest working assisted buyers with selection, check-out and carrying boxes of plants. So our first “thank you” goes to them. As Jesse would say: “You r0x0rz”

Set-up began at 9:15am – tables positioned, plants displayed as our first wave of customers arrived EARLY. In our first hour, we sold well over half of the days proceeds. It was intense. And rather incredible.

Entering the pavilion at Dunbar










After the initial “rush” our buyers came in smaller groups but continued to keep us all moving – and talking – and talking native plants. The False Blue Indigo sold out fast, as did the Ironweed and Joe-Pye (thank you to the gentleman who knew more about this fabulous plant than I do) and by days’ end even our Rattlesnake Masters were all off to new homes around Lexington.

Native plant lovers in action








We watched folks exchange hugs, gardening tips and business cards – and at the end of the day, managed to send a few plants home with our volunteers as well. And, to top the day off, we had a visit from Dunbar’s Beta Club sponsor teacher – her students who won a $500 grant will be purchasing 5 new picnic tables to install at the Memorial Garden. More students will be able to enjoy the garden at lunch, more students will be able to learn, study and work with us as we continue this project instigated by Jesse and Hannah and Josh’s friends – to celebrate life with a labor of love.

How cool is that?

Thank you Miranda, Sarah, Katelyn and Lindsay. Thank you Jaz, James, Josh and Katie. Thank you Taylor and Satya and the young man whose name I missed in all the activity. Thank you Walker, Mrs. Wiley, Katherine and Lana. Thank you to Jesse’s dad and his best friend Jon.

And a million thanks to those who came out to support our work and gave our native plants new homes. <3

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J is for Jesse: gardening, grants and current events

On Jesse’s birthday, March 10th, we visited the Dunbar Memorial Garden and were given not only a sneak peek at what’s in store work-wise but also a curiously formed branch on the yellowwood, which we are now calling our “J is for Jesse” tree. Those who knew Jesse’s incredible genius and energy can attest to the fact that if a miracle might be made, he’d find a way.

J shaped branch in the yellowwood

While the students were on Spring Break last week we utilized the time to assess, weed and make plans for our work there this season as we prepare to start digging plants for our Native Plant sale scheduled for Saturday May 19, 2012 from 10am to 2pm at Dunbar High School. There will be several surprise offerings as it seems the mild winter did more than just cause early weed issues – we found two lovely Golden St. John’s Wort specimens along with a variety of beardtongue and several false blue indigo plants.

In other garden news, we learned that two students in Dunbar’s Beta Club applied for and received grant funds to be used at the garden. Additionally, the Trust applied for and received funds from Lexington Council Garden Clubs and will utilize this much appreciated money for a 15′ by 30′ plant bed addition. We will begin by amending the soil: tilling and adding compost then topping the area with a layer of cardboard and mulch to help create a good environment for moving plants in the Fall. Saturday work sessions will begin again on April 21st – additional details may be found by joining our Facebook Group.

As the Mindtriggerz Project winds down for the season, a new dynamic to the Saturday Training Lab was added this winter: several adults asked to be given computer instruction and were welcomed. In keeping with Jesse’s spirit of helping others through and with technology, we expect this new dimension is further evidence of how much work there is still yet to be done to “bridge the digital divide.” The Training Lab will remain open through mid-May then reopen again in October.

Ever thankful for the physical, emotional and financial support provided by our community, Jesse’s friends, and the Trust’s board of directors, we continue work in Jesse’s name and honor. Visit – please feel free to share news of our projects with others.


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TED Talk on the Digital Divide

Below we have shared a short TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) talk given by Aleph Molinari regarding what the oft used term “Digital Divide” means. He makes a very interesting case for the reality and proposes a way of thinking about the problem that may lead to some real and meaningful solutions.

Growing up, Jesse and I would discuss this subject quite often, as we could see the effects of the digital divide all around us. Let me be clear and say that this divide was not just a lack of access to equipment and technologies, but also to information and the know how to employ said technologies. This was and is a problem that has to tackled from the widest angles and its one that exists the world over, from our communities to those of third world countries.

In the western world, its almost a necessity for one to have access to computers and the internet just to get through the day to day. The most ubiquitous example probably being the use of email. There are many examples of companies that exclusively take applications via the internet.

To us, it made since that we should invest and work towards bridging the divide because while there may be up front costs, the return on investment could be enormous. We can already see this in various scenarios that have allowed people to access technical resources in order to better themselves at a reduced cost. For instance distance learning has allowed high school and college students in various parts of the world to take classes that they might not have had access to. And while those courses might be just as expensive as regular courses, there can still be a savings because the student does not have to travel, or because the student could be capable of maintaining a job while pursuing their studies at their own pace.

Another example that comes to mind is in regards to financial matters. Financial literacy is one problem that keeps many people in the same cycle. With the advent of online banking however, many people have been able to reclaim their financial lives and really see whats going on. Something as simple as being able to scrutinize spending, pay bills quickly in a pinch or even just being able to schedule them can be a very empowering tool.

Check out the video and see what you think!

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Updates in Technology

Hello readers and supporters of the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust! We wanted to provide some updates on what we’ve accomplished on the technology side as well as some other interesting tech news. First we’ll talk about the local issues.

As of last week, we have delivered our 78th computer to a deserving family through our Mindtriggerz project. We are on schedule to deliver our 100th computer this year. We would like to give a special thanks to the Spencerian University students who by way of their Computer Hardware Independent study program assisted us in the refurbishing process on several machines recently. In order to help further our progress and expand the scope of the Mindtriggerz project, we have created a wish list on for items such as surge protectors, flash drives and computer speakers. These items will allow us to better serve our clients. If you are interested in making a contribution by way of the wish list, please click the link below.

Jesse Higginbotham Technology Wish List @

On another note, we have been tracking the progress of the Broadband Coalition (Free Lexington Public Wifi). The project began in 2010 as a collaboration between several groups such as the Blue Grass Community Foundation, LFUCG, UK, LPD as well as the Lexington Public Library System, Connect Kentucky and the Urban League. The project was primarily funded by John S. and James L. Knight Foundation by way of a $560,000 grant.

The project was proposed in order to provide free internet/wifi access to residents of Lexington’s East End and Cardinal Valley neighborhoods as well as to offer computer training classes. By providing Free Wireless access, this project would offer residents of these areas greater economic prospects and opportunities such as being able to apply for jobs online or take online classes. This internet access would also be useful to the public safety sector such as police, EMT’s and emergency responders.A good deal of progress has been made thus far such as the installation of wireless access points in all target areas as well the fiber optic cabling needed to carry the internet signal to the access points.

However, the process has not been without issues. The main bulk of the project was slated to be completed by August of 2010. At the time of this writing, connectivity has been spotty and while some have reported success in connecting, many others have not been so fortunate. We have been corresponding with the projects leaders and organizers and we’ve been told that they are very aware of the problems and are working diligently to solve them. We will be continuing to update you on the progress as we continue to monitor it. The hope is that functionality will increase dramatically in the coming weeks and months.

Finally, we would like to leave you with an exciting piece of news related to expanding the availability of low cost computing technology in classrooms and economically challenged areas of the world. You may have heard of the One Laptop Per Child initiative. The goal was to create inexpensive, durable and sustainable computers that could be distributed to third world countries. A problem encountered however was that in order to keep the price per unit down, large volume orders would be necessary – something most countries and aid organizations could not afford to pay. This problem might become a thing of the past thanks to Raspberry Pi.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation has worked to create a low-price, bare bones computer that could be used in classrooms to reduce the cost of computer assisted learning as well as being a tool for teaching programming and computing basics. They envision this not only being useful in the United States but also in third world countries. They recently started taking orders for their first version which costs $35. There was also an announcement from Seneca College that they have developed a full alpha version of Fedora Linux that runs on a 2gb sd card. By pairing the Raspberry Pi machine with Fedora, a fully functional pc could be had for less than $50.


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Dunbar Memorial Garden’s Third Annual Native Plant Sale

On Saturday May 19, 2012 the Dunbar Memorial Garden will host its Third Annual Native Plant Sale with proceeds benefiting continued care and maintenance of the all-native plant garden located on the campus of Dunbar High School. The garden was created in 2007 as a way to honor students whose lives were lost while attending school there.

This event is being co-sponsored by the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust and the Dunbar Beta Club.

With a start-up budget of less than $3,000, student volunteers, staff, friends, co-workers and members of the Lexington community gathered each Saturday to create the Memorial Garden which today encompasses an area that is well over 100 square feet and includes pathways created with recycled pavers, two strawbale construction benches decorated with hand-made ceramic tiles and upwards of 50 different varieties of native flowers, bushes and trees. Work continues each Saturday from April to October as volunteers gather to care for the garden and its surrounding environment. Benches and picnic tables are refurbished, butterfly habitats created, birds and other wildlife are studied, memories are made and remembered – it is a “labor of love” that continues to grow and thrive.

A number of perennial native plants will be available at the Sale including several varieties of Sunflowers, Goldenrod, Asters, Coneflowers and Coreopsis. We will also have limited amounts of young shrubs such as Shining Sumac and Snowberry along with a few native grasses. False Blue Indigo, Blue Star, Rattlesnake Master, Wild Bergamot and Cup Plants will be in stock and once transplanting begins there may well be other varieties added.

Prices will vary from $2 to $10 – the sale will begin at 10am and end at 2pm. Cash only please, we will provide a receipt with your purchase. This is our only garden “fundraiser” for the year so please help support our ongoing efforts! We are also glad to give you a tour of our incredible Memorial Garden. (If you are unable to attend the event, you may still contribute to our work by making a tax-deductible donation by mail or online by visiting and clicking the “contribute” button).

The sale will be held rain or shine as we will be located under the covered canopy entranceway to Dunbar High School, 1600 Man O’ War Boulevard, Lexington, Kentucky.

Additional details on our work and the plant sale may be found at (click the “news and events” button) and through our Facebook Group and Plant Sale Event at “Dunbar Memorial Garden.”

Great Purple Hairstreak butterfly in the Rattlesnake Master at the Dunbar Memorial Garden
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State of the Trust 2012

First and foremost, I would like to thank all of you who have chosen to visit our official blog for the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust.

We are now in our 4th year of operation and are very proud of what has been achieved thus far in keeping with the ideas and legacy of Jesse Higginbotham. Jesse was a visionary when it came to technology and its impact on people. He was also very good at using that technology to help foster a sense of community and cooperation. Those qualities are the inspiration for our mission.

While at Paul Laurence Dunbar High School, Jesse was heavily involved with the Student Technology Leadership program ( a Kentucky wide program to promote technological literacy and leadership) as well as the Gay Straight Alliance. His involvement in STLP lead him to participate in the process of teaching younger students about the basics of computing. That experience is one of the inspirations for the Mindtriggerz project. Jesse had also been helping to plan the future Dunbar Memorial Garden by way of the GSA.


In the years after Jesse’s death we have focused on our two main projects: The Dunbar Memorial Garden and The Mindtriggerz Project. In July of 2007 we began the process of preparing the grounds for the Dunbar Memorial Garden. Over the next 4 years we built one of the only all-native plant gardens located on a Lexington public school campus, using donated and recycled materials. We have collaborated with a number of different organizations and have worked with many students from Paul Laurence Dunbar and other schools. The Dunbar Memorial Garden is also a certified wildlife habitat. Currently, the garden is composed of 3 large beds separated by walking paths.

Dunbar Memorial Garden

The Mindtriggerz Project began in late 2007. We collected donated computers from families and businesses, wiped all the data and installed open source operating systems and educational programs. We then taught K-12 children in the Cardinal Valley neighborhood how to use them. Upon completing training, a Mindtriggerz computer was installed in their home. We have currently distributed 77 computers.

Mindtriggerz Project Logo featuring Jesse's face

On January 9, 2010 the Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust and The Landers Family brought the film “Straightlaced” to premiere in Lexington with support and assistance from the Central Kentucky Council for Peace and Justice, the Kentucky Fairness Alliance, the Lexington GLSO GSA and Dunbar’s No Day But Today. The film featured an interview done with Hannah Landers, one of Jesse’s friends, and a staunch advocate for acceptance and tolerance. Hannah worked with us at the Dunbar Memorial Garden until her fatal auto accident in May 2008.

The Jesse Higginbotham Technology Trust has hosted 2 annual native plant sales which helped fund the garden. In addition we donated a variety of native plants to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital for their therapeutic garden.

On October 29, 2011 Dunbar High School held a dedication for the “Jesse Higginbotham Media Lab” – a technology center designed and created by staff and students of Dunbar High School. While not a project of the Trust, we commissioned a portrait created by Jesse’s friend Alyssa Dean and donated it to be on display at the Media Lab.

"Jesse Higginbotham" By Alyssa Dean

 2012 Outlook

We are very excited for the many possibilities of growth going into this year. We hope to expand our efforts and continue to invite our community to get involved. We have applied for a grant for work at the Dunbar Memorial Garden which would allow us to create another plant bed for even more natives and plans are underway to host our 3rd annual native plat sale sometime in May (we will keep you informed).  We also hope to reach our goal of delivering 100 Mindtriggerz computers, the Training Lab is currently operating each Saturday and will continue until mid-May.

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