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Gill's phoenix 

A major television network. Twenty-one partner agencies. A goal to change media in the classroom, on the airwaves and even in the blogger's living room.

Say what you will about software developer and philanthropist Tim Gill, but he never goes small.

Last October, Gill, the multimillionaire founder of Colorado's Gill Foundation and the Gay and Lesbian Fund for Colorado, made waves by announcing the closure of Fund offices at 315 E. Costilla St.

Since opening in the mid-1990s, the G&L Fund building had stood as a sign of tolerance in Colorado Springs, and also as something of a community center, offering free meeting space to nonprofits. But in announcing the closure, Gill cited huge strides in the LGBT movement and a need to prioritize funds.

More changes were, and are, to come as $1.3 million in grant funds are reassessed. But the property, now to be known as the Tim Gill Center for Public Media, amounts to a $1.3 million gift by itself from the Fund to Rocky Mountain PBS, which has partnered with public radio stations across the state (including KRCC 91.5 FM locally), plus Pikes Peak Library District, the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs, Colorado College and Pikes Peak Community College.

The Fund building will eventually house PBS administrators related to the program, free community meeting space and a public media lab. It will also likely host public seminars and classes. Gill will not direct content.

"One of the things we love about this Rocky Mountain PBS proposal is, we are talking about grantees that are from, in terms of radio stations, Aspen, Carbondale, Durango, Boulder, Fort Collins, Alamosa, Greeley, Paonia," says Tim Sweeney, Gill president and CEO, in an Independent interview. "So it's got this reach all across the state of Colorado, and then, obviously, when you put in public broadcasting and TV, it's even greater."

Amanda Mountain, regional director of Rocky Mountain PBS, says since the deal was only recently signed, details of how the partnership will work are unclear. (As of this writing, the agreement was not public.) But she says partners will likely benefit from a central website aggregating stories, and content sharing will give small communities a bigger voice.

Likewise, journalism students may interact and share ideas even if they attend different schools, and could gain valuable "new media" lessons and real-world experience.

Meanwhile, the public will have access to a multimedia lab, and probably seminars to learn more about citizen journalism.

"We want people to have more access to a multitude of distribution mechanisms and training mechanisms for making good content," Mountain says.

Separately, but complementarily, PPLD has been working on a "Creative Computer Commons" at 1175 Chapel Hills Drive. Planned to open in 2013, it promises software, hardware and amenities for starting a business, writing and publishing a book, or becoming a high-level citizen journalist. Everything from copiers to video production areas to 3D printers will be available, as will classes.

Says PPLD community engagement and outreach officer Dee Vazquez Sabol: "[We envision] sharing educational resources and having that continuity where someone can come into our facilities, learn what they need to learn, [then] go down to the PBS center and create something."


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