Internet fast-lane bypassing rural Minnesota?

The issue of net neutrality has dominated headlines recently, and the outcome of this ongoing debate could have profound implications for the expansion of high speed internet into rural areas of Minnesota. Monopoly power among internet providers has allowed them to raise prices and offer faster content delivery to select customers, creating an internet “fast lane”. Continue Reading

A rural response to climate change

The U.S. Global Change Research Program released their Third National Climate Assessment on May 6; compiled by over 300 experts and peer reviewed by members of the public, climate change experts, federal agencies, and a panel of the National Academy of Sciences, the report details the impacts of climate change on the United States, including impacts on water, energy, transportation, agriculture, and human health, among other sectors. Continue Reading

Technology credited with rural revival – what if we boosted technology?

Over the weekend the Minneapolis Star Tribune ran a story of rural revival. The article features towns such as Osakis, Jackson, Mankato, Brainerd, Kiester, Benson, Hancock and Morris and notes their progress and growth. Technology – broadband technology – is given some of the credit for progress and growth. That’s exciting and I’m sure that technology has played a role BUT it also feels as if maybe the towns could do even better with more technology or as if maybe we’re being satisfied with minimal improvements when we should be aiming higher. Continue Reading

Transit without a route map

In six counties of west-central Minnesota, residents don’t need bus schedules or route maps to get around by public transit. They just call the Rainbow Rider dispatcher to schedule a pickup. It’s a common dial-a-ride system for rural transit, but one that’s become more efficient and economical thanks to recently introduced software called RouteMatch. Continue Reading

Cooperatives for Broadband? A primer on an option for rural areas

Cooperatives are an important part of Minnesota’s economic and cultural history and, for those in attendance at the Co-op= Community Development Conference last Friday, a path to future community vitality. I felt lucky to attend. Mark Ritchie, MN Secretary of State was the keynote speaker and talked about the link between Minnesota’s long standing culture of community engagement, voting, volunteerism and our standing as the land of cooperatives. Kudos to Secretary Ritchie for sticking around and participating in small group round table discussions after his speech proving that learning is a two-way street. Continue Reading