Community Pride Broadband Connections

Minnesota Rural Partners (co-sponsored by the Minnesota State Fair,, and InCommons.) has hosted a Community Pride competition and the winners will be recognized at the State Fair this weekend. Here’s a description of the competition from the invitation to enter in June…

As in previous years, the Showcase will recognize communities statewide for their efforts to move beyond current economic challenges with creative and proactive community and economic development innovations. The Showcase is designed to reward, inspire, showcase and share the collaborative work already going on in Minnesota towns and neighborhoods to improve quality of life.

I thought I’d highlight a few of the winners who are featuring their broadband-related activities:

Two projects involve local online publications:

  • Twin Cities Runoff
    Because we believe a healthy community is built upon its stories, culture, and history, Twin Cities Runoff gives local writers and readers a chance to explore their metropolitan community through in-depth storytelling—primarily written, but ultimately including visual art, audio, and multimedia. This weekly online magazine works with local writers and artists who want to explore a specific topic about the Twin Cities metro area, whether it be opportunities for women and LGBT communities to explore biking, an introduction to a local interfaith Christian-Islam prayer service, or exploring late-night Twin Cities coffee shops. A combination of long-form alt-weekly-style journalism and 21st century internet exploration, Twin Cities Runoff seeks out new local writers and storytellers and provides them with magazine-quality editorial services, as well as compensation. The finished product: a collection of compelling stories that connect readers and writers to what’s happening in their neighborhoods, and an overall awareness of what’s happening in the Twin Cities as a whole.
  • Twin Cities Daily Planet neighborhood pages
    Residents of Minneapolis and St. Paul need convenient and timely sources of information about what is happening in their neighborhoods. By publishing hundreds of neighborhood news stories every year, as well as republishing many more stories from our media partners in the neighborhood, community and ethnic press, we help to meet that need. But Twin Cities residents need more than just information – they also need tools that enable them to deliberate, organize and build stronger connections to their neighborhoods and to each other.
    Twin Cities Daily Planet’s 98 neighborhood pages do more than just provide news and information – we also provide interactive tools that make that information more useful. Using software that associates many different kinds of content – articles, blog posts, event listings, profiles of registered users with geographically defined areas, we are able to provide neighborhood residents with a rich source of information about neighborhood events, issues and resources.

One promotes broadband adoption:

  • Lac qui Parle Computer Commuter
    Increasing digital literacy in a rural county of west central Minnesota was the primary goal of the LqP Computer Commuter, a handicapped accessible mobile computer lab that weekly travels to six communities within Lac qui Parle County. Twelve local partners from the public and private sector came together to create a project that provides free access to computers and broadband with personalized assistance from an onsite trainer. Increasing the availability of technology and broadband access with the intent to improve digital literacy for all ages, the LqP Computer Commuter targets the following groups: low-income, low-skilled workers, unemployed, underemployed, persons with limited or no technology access, and those wishing to improve their computer skills. Collaborative partners for this project included: Farmers Mutual Telephone Cooperative, Frontier Communications, City of Bellingham, City of Boyd, City of Dawson, City of Madison, City of Marietta, City of Nassau, Minnesota River Valley Adult Education Services, TDF Foundation, Blandin Foundation, and Lac qui Parle County Economic Development Authority.

One project uses social media to extend their reach:

  • Brainerd Rotary – A P(+)sitive Charge 
    By offering community members an easy, no-cost way to express what they love about the Brainerd Lakes Area, Brainerd Rotary felt that an attitude of excitement would allow people to highlight the positives we all can share. This project was titled “A P(+)sitive Charge” and featured black and white photos of community members holding hand-written signs displaying their statement and having fun in solo shots or group photos, with pets, props or anything goes! We asked them to share a favorite positive statement, or simply answer the question, “Why do you love living here?”
    There was no cost to participate in the program, and open photo shoot days were advertised throughout the area in newspapers, radio and television ads, as well as YouTube and Facebook to encourage participation by as many people as possible. During the three-day photo shoot over 1,000 people participated, resulting in almost 300 different photos. The enthusiasm and excitement that was generated over this project was incredible. People were extremely creative in using costumes, props and the variety of signs was fabulous.

If you have a minute it’s fun and inspiring to take a look at all of the projects. Thinking of attending? You can get the schedule of the day from the Bush Foundation web site.

This entry was posted in Broadband Applications, MN by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

Librarian who follows rural broadband in MN and good uses of new technology (, hosts a radio show on MN music (, supports people experiencing homelessness in Minnesota ( and helps with social justice issues through Women’s March MN.

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