Today members of the current Blandin Broadband (BBC) cohort met to catch up. Communities include Chisago Lakes Area, Le Sueur County, Otter Tail County, Red Lake Nation and White Earth Nation. This is a group that signed up with Blandin to do broadband planning and programming a little more than a year ago. They are the group that signed up for one thing and then COVID happened and they (and the Blandin team) did an impressive job recalibrating to Zoom meetings and stalled or modified projects.
Today they met to catch up a little and talk about projects that were working well for them and get help for ones that weren’t I thought it would be fun to share the conversation:
Some quick notes of projects that were discussed in my break out room:
Otter Tail County spent CARES money on upgrading video conference spaces in the libraries and creating two new spaces in newly formed libraries. These are places where area residents and visitors (Otter Tail gets a lot of visitors!) can use the broadband and the equipment. Picture a Zoom set up on steroids – or picture the Zoom set up you wish you had the last time you really wanted to impress people in the Zoom room. The spaces are free and open to the public – you just need to register.
Le Sueur County has been working a lot of access to support broadband use. They had projects planned to support wifi on publinc transportation but some have been on hold because of access issues and COVID. They have a LEAD for America consultant coming in to help with Digital Navigation through the schools. Good question was raised about getting Digital Navigators to people over 50.
Central MN Coalition on Aging stepped in with some of the work they are doing with older folks. They have been working with the AARP startup. They have started a survey and have learned that businesses in their area really need help. They want to find out what people want to learn and how can they best learn it. Another good question was about how we teach young people to use technology for the work world. Sometimes we assume younger people know how to use technology but they may not know tools like email, mapping or other workforce skills.