I was invited to a Blandin Foundation brainstorming session today on the topic of rural communities and the development of broadband infrastructure, online content, and civic engagement. We met at the home of Bill Coleman in Mahtomedi, where his mailbox and backyard wildlife (click photos to enlarge) made for a unique setting.
Left photo, L o R: Tim Erickson, e-democracy.org; Ann Treacy, Treacy Information Services; Bill Coleman, Community Technology Advisors Corp.; Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Blandin’s Public Policy and Engagement Program; Jane Leonard, Minnesota Rural Partners.
Right center: Patrick Marx, recently a senior staffer at Blandin, now a consultant to them; and Jane (see above).
Right: Bill and Bernadine (see above). Click all photos to enlarge.
History and connections were rich. I’ve recently collaborated with Tim on a St. Paul edemocracy outreach project; with Steve on many issues and projects, including civic leadership blogging in the UK and the ReadMyDay project; Jane and Ann I’ve known since way back in the MRnet and gofast.net days — and Jane came to Northfield 18 months ago to speak at an NDDC forum on wi-fi. I’d not met Patrick but first heard about him from Sean Kershaw at the Citizens League (a blogging client) and more recently, because of his involvement and support of Bill Densmore and the Media Giraffe Project. He knew all about the Atwater video that Bill and I have been working on. But the most startling connection was when I mentioned how my involvement as the Salonkeeper with Utne Reader’s Neighborhood Salon Association back in the 90s was instrumental in the formation of Northfield Citizens Online and Northfield.org. Bernadine blurted out: “My mother joined an Utne Salon when they first started and their salon is still going on!” That’s 15 years and counting. Cool beans. One final mention: a tip of the blog hat to Mike O’Connor who couldn’t be there today and who was instrumental in my getting an invitation. Thanks, Mikey. All the way with Y2K!