It has been a busy week for me on the road. It is especially fun to be “on location” in July but it means the posts are a little slower – since hiking Gooseberry Falls take priority. As I drove from meeting to meeting I pointed out Minnesota’s history of natural resources to my kids. (Remember how fascinating you thought those tidbits were from your parents?) That and the weather and the scenery and the kindness of locals got me thinking that really Minnesota ought to be a prime destination for businesses and workers – once we have the infrastructure in place to support remote work. I mean remote video editors transferring files to clients; I mean larger businesses interaction on the virtual product design or electronic supply chain model.
We ought to be able to sell Minnesota to anyone who has a job that can be done remotely and likes hiking, fishing, music, potica, craft beer. It was fun to hear how some communities are getting those efforts going.
On Wednesday I stopped in on Lake County and their Blandin Broadband Community meeting. It was attended by School Superintendents, Community Ed leaders, Arts Board members, Community Partners, the local fiber provider (Lake Connections) and others. The efforts up there have been led by Angie Palmer with support from Karl Samp though the Blandin Foundation.
Here are some of the notes – starting with the comment of the day and a video from Lake County’s new YouTube Channel
Broadband was supposed to be about getting people to the Internet but really it’s connected all of us!!
Community Radio Project
Local folks heard that the FCC was looking for under-represented voices for low power 100 watts radio stations. They realized that rural towns could quality. Radio by, for and about Lake County. (They also want to livestream programs.) The got the FCC award and have 18 months to be on the air. Need to raise $25,000 for startup equipment. They want to livestream before if necessary but really want to be an FM station. It’s a multigenerational effort – grade school, high school and beyond. They’ve got people with traditional radio skills. Talking about using technology to connect via dedicated line. It’s part of what the fiber enables.
They need a good place for the antenna as well as studio. Streaming on broadband is very exciting. It’s the only way some community members will get the shows. For example one attendee was only 8.4 miles and lots of ridges away. It’s critical to embracing the whole community. The community is not just the town; were the people on the outskirts, snow birds, expats, anyone.
Antenna needs line of sight with studio and offices. They thought about new water tower but that didn’t work. We wanted to use digital wireless link – but that may be problematic given the terrain. Fiber takes care of that but we really want a backup. They’re used to needing redundancy – say if there’s another flood like in 2012. They’d like to be downtown but they don’t have money. They’ll need to build out – such as a sound proof studio. KTWH.org
- Now we have glacially slow DSL. The quality of the signal is poor. It’ tough to work on interactive websites. The fiber optics will fix that.
- Blandin sponsored a leadership program and this would be a fun community project.
- What can we do collaboratively? We’d like to keep the momentum going.
- We have a 7-person board. We’d like to reach out more to keep it going. It’s great to get support here.
- Livestreaming rather than FM lets us open up the groups. Allows for partnerships that have been difficult earlier because of geography or border lines or the past.
YouTube Channel – www.youtube.com/LaeCountyDigital
Created by Pure Driven. They ask that everyone please sign up and give us feedback. The Steering Committee can help carry this channel forward. They can get involved with the school district. They have good equipment. It would be nice to use that as an educational portal. The videos tie into the community need for broadband. Now we can use it to talk about the cool things we’re doing with fiber.
Video is a powerful tool. They understand that people need some broadband to look at it. And they learned that while the team started by talking about broadband – people really wanted to talk about fiber because there are so excited about fiber. The 25 videos are up and tagged and they’re working on promotion. What’s nice is that each YouTube video has easy sharing tools.
We are also working on a compiled video with a narrative. The power of storytelling is so great.
About 20 years ago, radio programming began to be created for on air and online archive listening. If we are going to be doing this – we ought to do the same and if videos work without the image maybe they could be played on air too.
Round II Projects
- Senior iPad Training – one on one training – just wish they had more people come in. They have some trouble with people in their 80s and 90s wondering why they might want to learn it. They have one 94 year old who comes every week with a detailed question. They had a mobile resource center lunch with speakers in Finland. It was a good chance to get people on the school ipads and give them a good experience with the technology. They had 40-60 people attend!
- Computer training at Community Center (10 to noon) -they offer training as well. We promote it through interns.
- Food shelf – slowing getting screening project online. They have been short of volunteers but continue to ramp up the program. They have computer and wireless access so that they can quickly learn about other public service programs they might qualify for. An unintended consequence kids were involved in the project; learned that the food shelf needed more volunteers; they started volunteering.
- Portal – they can partner with so many people. The plan is to bring people together to talk. So many people are creating websites or upgrading right now. They have been talking about a calendar that can be shared.
- Lake County Community Wireless – happening through the school district. The plan is to gear up this fall when school starts up. Might need a committee of folks to help choose businesses that are interested in hosting the wireless networks. They are working with Decca students.We had 11 students from FdL school had a tour of the location and learned how to splice as part of their app camp. They were excited when they were here and Lake Connections was pretty impressed with the students too.Angie is on the Broadband Task Force and was recently accepted into the Humphrey Policy Fellowship to look at Digital Literacy especially since with older populations.