Category Archives: Colleagues

I’m now co-working, because working alone sometimes stinks

The Spur: Working alone stinks. Let's work together. The Spur: Working alone stinks. Let's work together. Grand Opening: The Spur Jack Hoschouer, Arlen Malecha, Megan Tsui, Mary Schmelzer
The Spur, the Northfield Enterprise Center‘s new coworking and incubator/accelerator facility in downtown Northfield, had its grand opening last Thursday.  I’m thrilled and I’m going to be a member.

The Spur’s sidewalk sandwich board proclaims:

Working alone stinks. Let’s work together.


Minnesota Voices Online Unconference

UnconferenceSM  Bernadine Joselyn Steve Clift Marc Osten
I was an invited ‘practioner’ at the Minnesota Voices Online Unconference (“Connecting rural Minnesotans with new media so every place can share its voice in the Internet age”) in Duluth this weekend, co-hosted by the Blandin Foundation and Above: Bernadine Joselyn, Director of Public Policy and Engagement at the Blandin Foundation;  Steve Clift, Co-Founder and Chair of; Marc Osten of the Summit Collaborative who moderated the event (run as an unconference).

Some of my photos (click any thumbnail and then scroll through all 8 photos):

Minnesota Voices Online Unconference Minnesota Voices Online Unconference Minnesota Voices Online Unconference
Minnesota Voices Online Unconference Minnesota Voices Online Unconference

Scandinavia and Northfield’s culture of citizen journalism

IMG_0335_1000.jpgYesterday, I spent an hour at the James Gang Hideaway visiting with Thor Henning Lerstad, News Director for the Norwegian Broadcasting Company (NRK). He’s visiting Minnesota this week to “study best-practice examples of Consultative/Participatory/Public Journalism.”

(Last September, I spent an hour at the James Gang Hideaway visiting with a colleague of his, Jørgen Jensen, a journalist with Danmarks Radio (DR), Denmark’s national broadcasting corporation. He also wanted to learn about all the citizen journalism/community media/civic blogosphere stuff we’ve been doing here in Northfield for the past decade.)’s Anne Bretts was kind enough to pick him up in the Twin Cities and bring him to Northfield for the day… and return him. How’s that for Minnesota hospitality? I brought him to lunch at Northfield Rotary (“Hey, everybody, a real live Norwegian named Thor!”).

I’ve included Thor’s email to me and Anne below in case others are interested in what he’s up to. Now we just need a similar visit from a journalist in Sweden to complete aScandinavia trifecta and maybe top it off with visits from journalists in the other Nordic countries of Finland, Iceland and the Faroe Islands.
Continue reading Scandinavia and Northfield’s culture of citizen journalism

Blandin brainstorming


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,; 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.

Left center: Becky LaPlant and Mary Magnuson, Program Assistants in Blandin’s Public Policy and Engagement Program; Steve Clift,

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 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 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!

Will Steger on global climate change


Explorer Will Steger spoke on global warming tonight to a crowd of almost 500 people at Bethel Lutheran Church here in Northfield, along with two colleagues, J. Drake Hamilton, Science Policy Director at Fresh Energy, and Alycia Ashburn with the Lutheran Coalition for Public Policy in Minnesota. Steger’s foundation has launched a project called Global Warming 101 which “… raises broad public awareness about global warming as witnessed through Will Steger’s polar expeditions.”

Back in 1993, two of my sons, Collin and Graham (then ages 16 and 12) accompanied Steger and fellow explorers to Yellowknife and the Arctic Circle for six weeks to help with the ham radio and internet communications for a training run for the International Arctic Expedition … ultimately held two years later. I was delighted to catch up with Will again. My wheels are turning already on how I could become involved in his next expedition, set for early next year.

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L to R: Will Steger, J. Drake Hamilton, Alycia Ashburn.

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L to R: Dan Kallman and the Bethel choir; Brianna Spittle and my daughter Gilly Wigley get a poster signed by Steger for a donation to the foundation; the audience at the booths in the vestibule at Bethel. Click photos to enlarge.

Will Steger’s presentation. Click to play. 33 minutes.

J. Drake Hamilton’s presentation. Click to play. 24 minutes.

Jørgen Jensen visits Northfield

IMG_3780w800.jpgI spent an hour this morning at the James Gang Hideaway visiting with Jørgen Jensen, a journalist with Danmarks Radio (DR), Denmark’s national broadcasting corporation. He works at their station in Bornholm. (See the Wikipedia entries on Bornholm and DR for more.)

Jørgen has been in Minnesota the past ten days, visiting with people and organizations involved in citizen journalism. He heard about Northfield Citizens Online and and wanted to hear from someone who was there as the beginning. I recorded our discussion and have uploaded it to Hipcast. If you’re interested in hearing it, let me know.

Shelley Rose, LogIn


Back in August, I met with Shelley Rose, President & CEO of LogIn. I got to know her many years ago when they were located in the Lowertown area of downtown St. Paul near where I worked at

I’ve done some search-related contract work over the years for them and among other things, they’re the people behind IACPnet, the online network for the International Association of Chiefs of Police – hence the photo of me with Shelley and the Brad Pitt-as-cop cutout above. (Click photo to enlarge.)

Since I’m a blogging coach to several leaders in law enforcement here in Minnesota (Dan Carlson, Rob Reynolds, Gary Smith, Mark Murphy) and have started working with Mike Alderson in the UK, I’m interested in exploring ways that I might work with LogIn and the IACP on leadership blogging. Shelley and I agreed to start scheming on ways for leadership blogging to have a presence at next year’s IACP annual conference.

Future of the Web event

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Citizens League Executive Director and chief blogger Sean Kershaw (left) launched this morning’s Summer Policy series event titled The Future of the Web and Civic Engagement: What Happens When MySpace Meets Our Space? held at The Forum at Minnesota Public Radio. (Click photos to enlarge.)

I recorded the forum. Click play to listen. 1 hour, 5 minutes, 22 seconds.

I found myself a little disappointed with the event. I wanted to hear more stories… stories that would illustrate the what the future of the web could be for civic engagement, public problem-solving and policy-making. I don’t remember much about the discussion but I do remember two stories: Jean King’s story about Gov. Al Quie and Roger Moe; and Steve Borsch’s story about visiting the Eden Prairie public library.

I also was hoping to hear more about the forces — systemic or otherwise — that are both helping and impeding the constructive use of these Web 2.0 technologies in the public sphere. That would’ve generated more discussion about what steps could be taken by citizens, civic organizations, and yes, policy-makers to address these forces.

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Left photo, L to R: moderator Jack Uldrich, panelists Jean LeVander King and Steve Borsch.
Right photo, L to R: panelists Garrick Van Buren,Tom Swain, and Jen Alstad.

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During the post-event schmoozing, I had a chance to talk with (L to R) Steve Borsch, Steve Clift, and Garrick Van Buren. And then Mr. Clift and I retired to the MPR lobby to chat further in the way-cool audio-enhancing pod chairs. Amazingly easy to hear one another. And yes, that’s an apple core in my mouth.

Aug. 22 Update: Victoria Ford has a set on Flickr of 60 photos from the event.

Aug. 23 1 pm update: AAAARRRGGGGGHHHH!! I mistakenly deleted this blog entry earlier today and had to ask my beloved webhosting company, Tiger Technologies, to restore the site from a midnight backup. They’ve done it but two comments were lost so I’ve manually replaced them. Apologies to Steve and Mike.

Tom Dawkins joins the blogosphere

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I took these photos of Tom Dawkins last week. (Click to enlarge.) He was one of presenters on the Innovative Ideas to Stir Citizens panel in Baltimore..

He’s the founder of Vibewire Youth Services in Australia and, according to this post on Steve Clift’s blog, this month he’s:

“… travelling around North America during August as part of a research trip to learn more about work being done around … digital/indie/youth media; online community; youth spaces (as in physical spaces, not virtual – specifically those designed to engender creative expression and/or enterprise development); digital arts/creativity; youth and citizenship; e-democracy.”

I just got an email from a UK colleague who I met in Budapest, Alice Chicken at 21Consultancy, alerting me to the fact that Tom just launched a weblog called tomd’s blog. In his initial post on Monday, he writes:

I’ve wanted to start a blog to give people, members especially obviously, an insight into some of the background to Vibewire and our projects, a taste of some of the ideas floating around or projects which haven’t officially launched yet, more of a sense of the people behind the site and the Vibewire organisation and an opportunity for dialogue and feedback.

… in Baltimore last Thursday August 3, the day after I wearily arrived in the US. One of the sessions I went to was on ‘Leadership blogging’ (as opposed to perblogs, news blogs, opinion blogs, etc) by which he meant blogs kept by people in a leadership role (CEO, elected reprentatives, etc) which allow them to bring people into the decision-making process, to record a record of their thoughts, think through issues and so on. It all sounded exactly like what I’d been contemplated so I vowed to myself that at the next opportunity I really would start one this time.

Welcome to the blogosphere, Tom.

Steve Borsch

IMG_2075.JPG I had coffee in Northfield this morning (at my corner office at the Goodbye Blue Monday Coffeehouse, natch) with long-time Minnesotan Steve Borsch — blogger, podcaster, and a Web 2.0 thinker/doer/collaborator.

Steve contacted me via email earlier this week after we both contributed some brainstorming emails via Sean Kershaw at the Citizens League. It turns out we have other Minnesota colleagues in common, including Patricia and Craig Neal at Heartland Circle, Mike O'Connor, and Eden Prairie City Manager Scott Neal.

Among the multiplicity of topics we discussed: how Web 2.0 technologies can improve the civic health of geographic communities. See Steve's recent blog posts, Web 2.0: Connecting people to dots and Lessons of Community for Web 2.0 for more on this issue. But more importantly, subscribe to his Connecting the Dots weblog and podcast to follow his thinking at it evolves. I'm going to enjoy getting to know him better and will look for ways to collaborate.