And abridged script:
Good Morning everybody! My name is Bernadine Joselyn. On behalf of the Blandin Foundation and our co-sponsor, DEED’s Office of Broadband Development, it is my pleasure and honor to welcome you to the Border to Border Broadband: Better Together conference.
Thank you for being here this morning.
At Blandin Foundation, we have come to understand that broadband access – and the skills to use it – are fundamental to everything we care about as a foundation:
equal opportunity, education, health care, accountable and effective government, business growth, engaged citizens and – ultimately — vibrant communities – all depend on world class broadband.
I bet that many of you here today get this too.
But ensuring that all people – especially people living in rural places and on tribal lands — have access to world-class broadband and the skills to use it is hard. It’s going to take all sectors of society working together. Not-for-profits, business and government all must do their part.
That’s what this conference is about – being better together.
We have gathered to address the reality that Minnesotans without access to high speed broadband and the ability to use it are denied equal opportunity to participate fully in community life.
These are high stakes. Getting this right for Minnesota matters. Broadband has become the indispensable infrastructure of our age.
As Luis Ubinas, former Ford Foundation President, famously said:
As the Internet becomes a gateway to democratic participation, economic opportunity, and human expression, it is critical to the future of our country to ensure that everyone has high-speed, or “broadband,” access to an open Internet.
In sessions over the next two days, you will hear about many of the efforts underway across our state to move the needle on meeting the challenge President Ubinas describes.
Efforts in Minnesota classrooms, clinics, on school buses, in community centers, libraries and city halls, at the state house, at DEED, in tribal government facilities, and in people’s understanding and awareness.
We also will be working together to articulate a shared Broadband vision for Minnesota. And to talk about what we can do together to move that vision forward.
All of this together offers each of you multiple opportunities to Connect, Learn, and Recharge.
There’s lots going on – some of it simultaneously – so check your program for details.
Our parents and grandparents invested in the infrastructure upon which rural America was built – electricity, roads, bridges, telephones. Now it is our turn.
When the federal government wanted to reduce deaths by improving air quality – they did not ask the auto industry to create a goal.
Rather the Feds said – here are the emission standards we expect you to meet, and they gave the auto industry a deadline. So why are we looking to the providers to set our broadband goals?
Understandably, the goals of for-profit companies are influenced first-and-foremost by what is good for their business, not necessarily what is good for Minnesotans. Not-for-profit co-ops – with member services as their business model — are able to do what for-profit providers often can’t. It’s time for families and schools and communities to set the goals and leave the tactics to the providers. They will rise to the occasion, just as the auto industry did.
And now it is my pleasure to pass the mic to my friend and colleague and conference co-sponors, and the Director of Minnesota’s Office of Broadband Development, Danna MacKenzie, to add her words of welcome.