MIRC Updates: Grand Rapids

The next session was a panel of MIRC communities. (Quick reminder – Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities are Blandin-led, ARRA recipients who are creating broadband adoption opportunities throughout Minnesota communities.) I am going to try to break up the session on the blog to feature on community per post. This post features Edward M. Zabinski and Grand Rapids.


MIRC Updates: Upper Minnesota Valley

The next session was a panel of MIRC communities. (Quick reminder – Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities are Blandin-led, ARRA recipients who are creating broadband adoption opportunities throughout Minnesota communities.) I am going to try to break up the session on the blog to feature on community per post. This post features Dawn Hegland and Upper Minnesota Valley.

MIRC Updates: Worthington

The next session was a panel of MIRC communities. (Quick reminder – Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities are Blandin-led, ARRA recipients who are creating broadband adoption opportunities throughout Minnesota communities.) I am going to try to break up the session on the blog to feature on community per post. This post features Glenn Thuringer and Worthington.


MIRC Updates: Cook County

The next session was a panel of MIRC communities. (Quick reminder – Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities are Blandin-led, ARRA recipients who are creating broadband adoption opportunities throughout Minnesota communities.) I am going to try to break up the session on the blog to feature on community per post. This post features Danna MacKenzie and Cook County


National Broadband Policy and Implications for Minnesota

Tom Koutsky from Connected Nation spoke about what’s happening in the federal level. He was kind enough to share his slides…


I think one of the important messages was that the future of broadband is not being written in Washington; it’s happening on the frontlines, in Duluth, in Cloquet Valley in Windom.

More video:

  1. Tom Koutsky gets a question a terrestrial broadband
  2. Tom Koutsky gets a question broadband mapping
  3. Tom Koutsky gets a question on pole attachments
  4. Tom Koutsky gets a question a terrestrial broadband
  5. Tom Koutsky gets a question on advice for communities with larger incumbents

Mayor Ness welcomes broadband conference attendeees

The Broadband conference began with a nice introduction from Duluth Mayor Don Ness. It was interesting to hear how Duluth turned it’s economy around with careful planning and drive. I hope that the Mayor’s story will inspire other towns in Minnesota that may find themselves in a similar position. Broadband can be a ticket to promote economic and community development in an area. It won’t happen overnight – but it won’t happen at all if you don’t start.

PCs for People at Broadband Conference

Just wanted to add a quick follow-up on yesterday’s post on the used computer drive in Duluth. The good news is that we had a lot of interest from the media. Definitely worth trying again – perhaps with more advanced promotion to folks with computers to donate.

I will be posting notes from the Conference as quickly as I can. I think we’ll know Minnesota has sufficient broadband when I can get the videos up in near real time. You can always follow along on Twitter (#mnbb2011).

Used computer drive in Duluth today

I’m in Duluth now. It’s been fun to see some folks drop off computer and attention from the media – but it would be fun to see more people take advantage of the opportunity. If you’re around Duluth and have a used computer, please consider donating it. If you know someone in the area, please spread the word.

PC’s for People will collect used computers on Tuesday, November 15, from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at Bayfront Festival Park in Duluth. The equipment will be refurbished and redistributed to qualifying families in need in the Duluth area at no cost.

Donated computers should be eight years old or less and should be in generally working order. Computer accessories are also accepted, with the exception of CRT monitors over 10 years old, broken monitors or office size printers or copiers. Computer equipment will be accepted from both residents and businesses.

According to PCfP’s Sam Drong, “We turn computers stored in people’s closets and basements into another family’s treasured asset, enabling kids to better do their homework and mom and dad a chance to further their education or search for a job.” PC’s for People uses industry-approved “best practices” for cleaning hard drives, updating software and testing computer reliability before sending a computer home with its new family.

Through its participation in the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) – funded Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities Program, PC’s for People has distributed 1,000 computers to families in need across greater Minnesota. Computers have been distributed to individuals and families and for use in assisted living facilities, nursing homes, community computer centers, libraries and other public access sites. Schools and social service agencies have been partners to ensure that the computers end up in good hands and that the new owners know how to make use of them. Some Internet Service Providers have stepped up as partners to provide a basic Internet connection available at an affordable price.

Arrowhead Regional Development Commission, Western Lake Superior Sanitary District, Universal Recycling Technologies, the City of Duluth and Blandin Foundation have provided support for this collection and refurbishment effort.

This collection event is being held as a precursor to the MN Broadband Conference, Policy and Progress: Border to Border Broadband, where community leaders from across the state will discuss successful strategies for improving broadband access and use. The November 16-17 conference is being co-sponsored by Blandin Foundation and Connect Minnesota. For more information and to register, go online to http://broadband.blandinfoundation.org.

PC’s for People, a non-profit organization dedicated to collecting and refurbishing used computers for distribution to those who now lack this important communication tool. Since 1999, the organization has distributed refurbished computers to more than 10,000 Minnesota families.

For more information, contact:  Sam Drong
(612)424-3918
sdrong@pcsforpeople.com

Free Webinar: Community Transformation via Technology

The Blandin Foundation has been hosting webinars on Wednesdays as a lead up to the Fall Broadband Conference – Policy & Progress: Border to Border Broadband. We’ve heard from (links include archives of presentations):

Tomorrow is the final pre-conference webinar. We will be hearing from School superintendents Matt Grose and Mark Adams from the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative and Paul Thon from Cisco will talk about the work they’re doing to bring technology to Itasca County schools and the communities in which they reside.

Here are the quick details on this week’s free webinar:

Free broadband webinars on Wednesdays

The Blandin Foundation has been hosting webinars on Wednesdays as a lead up to the Fall Broadband Conference – Policy & Progress: Border to Border Broadband. The first week we heard from JoAnne Johnson on Critical Broadband Policy Issues. Last week we heard from LightSquared’s Geoff Stearn and Bob Bass from AT&T talk about wireless: Mobile Broadband – Is it enough? (Both presentations are archived and can be accesses through the links provided.)

This week we will be hearing from Bill Coleman on Public-Private Partnerships in Broadband. I’ve seen a preview of Bill’s presentation. I think the session will be particularly good for community leaders who are looking at their options for better broadband or industry leaders who are looking for ways to expand their offerings or coverage.

Here are the quick details on this week’s free webinar:

Free Webinar: Mobile Broadband – Is it enough?

Please join us for a free webinar tomorrow (Oct 19 from noon to 1 pm): Mobile Broadband – Is It Enough? Here’s the description:

The US Broadband plan establishes a 4 Mb goal for those lacking access to networks meeting the 100 Mb goal. Many assume that this goal will be met with mobile broadband networks. Will this be adequate to participate in today’s bandwidth intensive world?

Join LightSquared’s Geoff Stearn, VP of Spectrum Development, and Bob Bass from ATT to explore this question.

A lot of people have been asking questions about LightSquared; this could be a very interesting session. Please register – and bring your questions!

The webinar is part of the pre-conference series leading up to the Fall broadband conference: Policy & Progress: Border to Border Broadband.

Broadband Pre-Conference Webinars Coming Up

Leading up to the Fall Broadband Conference, Blandin will be hosting a series of free webinars. In the past these sessions have been a great way to bone up on topics before the conference and/or a good taste of the type of topic that might come up at the conference. The first session starts next week. I hope you’ll register and put the others on your calendar…

Pre-Broadband Conference Webinar – Critical Broadband Policy Issues
Wednesday, October 12, 2011 – 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

We kick-off this year’s pre-conference webinar series with JoAnne Johnson from U-reka Broadband Ventures.

JoAnne will tackle policy issues at both the Federal and State level:

  • Federal policy – The Universal Service Reform Discussion: Who is lining up where and why?
  • State policy – How do we move policy creation to strategy implementation and why hasn’t anything happened?

Please register. https://blandinfoundation.ilinc.com/register/rryczwv

Pre-Broadband Conference Webinar – Mobile Broadband – Is it enough?
Wednesday, October 19, 2011 – 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

The US Broadband plan establishes a 4 Mb goal for those lacking access to networks meeting the 100 Mb goal. Many assume that this goal will be met with mobile broadband networks. Will this be adequate to participate in today’s bandwidth intensive world?

Join Jeff Carlisle from LightSquared and Bob Bass from ATT in the exploration of this question.

Please register. https://blandinfoundation.ilinc.com/register/jjszfrm 

Pre-Broadband Conference Webinar – Public-private partnerships in broadband
Wednesday, October 26, 2011 – 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

With stimulus funds allocated and clear understanding of the difficulties in obtaining strictly market-based funding, how can underserved areas reach their broadband goals? What are some successful models of public private partnerships?

Bill Coleman of Community Technology Advisors will present this topic.

Please register. https://blandinfoundation.ilinc.com/register/wwvhkfv

Pre-Broadband Conference Webinar – Community Transformation via Technology
Wednesday, November 2, 2011 – 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

Communities want broadband networks to support economic vitality. Assuming infrastructure investments are made, what are the next steps to transform the way communities function in a broadband-based world?

School superintendents Matt Grose and Mark Adams from the Itasca Area Schools Collaborative and Paul Thon from Cisco will talk about the work they’re doing to bring technology to Itasca County schools and the communities in which they reside.

Please register: https://blandinfoundation.ilinc.com/register/rrychss

Bigger, Better Broadband: a Video retrospective produced by you!

As a reminder, the Fall Broadband Conference is happening November 16-17 in Duluth. We’re working with Connect Minnesota. The conference will focus on the ARRA Broadband funding efforts that have been underway in Minnesota.

To help highlight the great activity in the state, we’re doing something kind of fun – a film fest! And we’re inviting folks around the state to submit videos…

The Blandin Foundation is looking for video shorts (less than 10 minutes) on bigger better broadband in Minnesota to showcase at a Broadband Film Festival!

The Film Festival will be part of the 2011 broadband conference: Policy and Progress: Border to Border Broadband, November 16-17. The Film Festival will take place on November 17 from 5:00-9:00 pm at the Zeitgeist small theater in Duluth, Minnesota. The Festival will feature video, food and fun.

We are looking for locally developed videos to showcase what’s happening in broadband adoption, deployment and/or policy in Minnesota. We leave the creativity up to you – we will be showing as many of the best videos intermingled with “broadband classics” as time allows at the Festival.

Here are the details:

  • What: We seek videos shorter than 10 minutes that relate to broadband in Minnesota.
  • How: Please upload your videos and send a note with your name, contact info, and link to the video to broadband@blandinfoundation.org. Email questions to kpeterson@kpgrants.com
  • Where: Please upload to YouTube, Vimeo or other online video sharing site
  • Who: Anyone in Minnesota is invited to submit a video
  • Why: Because we want to learn about bigger, better broadband in Minnesota from the people who experience it and there are prizes!
  • When: Submissions will be accepted until November 1.

If you do not have a video to submit, stay for the festival anyway. There will be hors d’oeuvres and networking time to wrap up the conference. Be sure to register.

Small print: Please do not submit videos that include adult content or language. Please respect copyright and do not include material that is not yours (that includes background music).