Pandemic exacerbates and shines a light on inequity in Minnesota

MinnPost recently ran an editorial from Jane Leonard and Dane Smith from Growth & Justice on need for equity in Minnesota – a need that didn’t start with the coronavirus pandemic but the pandemic is pushing the inequity to the headlines. Here one example from the article…

An April 11 Star Tribune front-page story (“Spotty broadband, rural toll”) revealed a family on Minnesota’s Iron Range coping with COVID-19 by driving 15 miles to a McDonald’s parking lot and connecting to high-speed Wi-Fi there so that kids could do online homework and mom could do basic household business. Given the emerging importance of telehealth, rural regional leaders in the article emphasized once again that high-speed broadband in Greater Minnesota must now be considered basic public infrastructure, a matter of regional equity, and no longer an optional luxury.

They mention other inequities but of course broadband what interests me here. The mention the inequities in the context of a solution. For several years now, Growth & Justice has been working on a statewide blueprint to reduce inequities, unite Minnesota and lift us all up…

One of the featured recommendations in the Blueprint squarely addresses the rural broadband disparity and the urban “digital divide.’’ The report explains in detail how Minnesotans without high-speed internet can’t run their businesses, do their jobs, attend school, seek medical help, or function as consumers. The Blueprint proposes an ambitious multiyear state investment over at least a decade to ensure that construction proceeds regardless of location or market strength. In the COVID aftermath, robust and affordable anywhere-for-anyone broadband will continue to be central to the recovery and continued operations of our communities, economy and society at large.

COVID can be our crucible of long-term change for the better, if we choose. And our Minnesota Equity Blueprint could be the first draft of that new socioeconomic contract for a more inclusive, equitable and secure prosperity across the North Star State.

This entry was posted in Digital Divide, MN and tagged by Ann Treacy. Bookmark the permalink.

About Ann Treacy

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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s