Blandin Broadband Communities Update Central Woodlands: Local people, local solution

This morning we visited with the folks from the Central Woodlands in Isle, Minnesota. It’s a fun community overlapping parts of three counties. While there we got a tour of the local “Someday Isle”, a community shop where local folks can sell their art and crafts.

Isle has had some success – like the local artist whose sales jumped 400 percent once we got online. Isle has had some challenges – like difficulty handing out the refurbished computers through PCs for People. But they have a plan to work with the libraries to distribute the computers to local residents.

The focus of projects leaned toward businesses and older folks more than other communities we have seen so far. Just an example of local people defining local issues and creating local solutions. And part of why it’s so rewarding to hear about the work in each community. We can learn a lot from each other – but each journey will be different.

Here are my full notes:

Wilma Township Mesh HotSpot Network

Wilma Township is setting up a mesh network system – because they had nothing before. They happened to have a retired guys who is an expert on mesh so they were able to look into it. They used about $3000 worth of equipment – for a hotspot at the town hall and look at other residents to encourage mesh equipment. They are close to Lake Lena – so they are talking to them too about possible connection.

Someday Isle Community Economic Development Center

Someday Isle is a nonprofit shop on main street that helps people create incomes for themselves. In this area 75% of people in the area live in poverty.

There’s a shop where we sell things people make. We rent space to conduct business. We do training. We provide a place for people in jobs and training.

We’ve been working with people to help them make better use of the Internet. For example – Increased sales in the building by400% when Art Carr was able to move his art online

PC for People

We talked with the folks at PCs for People. Talked with the libraries. But there were a number of personnel changes that were out of control of anyone. But now the Isle librarian is able and willing to take the lead. We are hoping it will happen this fall. It really takes some hand feeding to encourage people in need of technology. Older adults will be the priority. The library is a good medium.

Working with Townships

Using surveys to work with townships and decide what needs to happen and which townships can help pay for what they need versus which ones need help.


This entry was posted in bbc, 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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