Making a Community New Year’s Resolution

First published in January 2012 Blandin eNews

Does your  community make New Year’s resolutions?  January is a great opportunity to  bring  people together to talk about goals and improvement.  The Intelligent  Community framework (focusing on: broadband, knowledge workers, innovation,  digital inclusion and marketing/advocacy) provides guidance for organizing and  implementing action.  Through our MN Intelligent Rural Community (MIRC) projects,I have observed that the most exciting projects are those that link across two  or more Intelligent Community elements.

For example, a  community may decide to improve public access to broadband and computers by  opening up school computer labs extended hours to all residents.  To  broaden the audience beyond those without computers or broadband Internet  access, the community could add a focus on math and science to create  knowledge workers by using community volunteers who use math and science – from  machinists to scientists – and by taking advantage of online resources â- from  Khan Academy to MIT. Potential positive  outcomes include more support for school technology investments, better linkage  between kids and local career opportunities, intergenerational learning and  linkages, better math and science test scores and a more Intelligent Community!   You could just as easily promote the arts through an approach like this.

A shared goal  across our demonstration communities is improved marketing – convincing both  residents and non-residents (prospective business owners and tourists) to stop,  stay and invest in the community.  The U of M Extension has done a  great job educating businesses how to promote themselves online.  In  today’s economy, everyone is essentially a small business – improving the  products through education, marketing themselves to gain income – through  employment on site or through telework, self-employment, or growing a business.   How can a community use online tools like eFolio Minnesota combined  with local web sites to showcase and market local talent – from kids to stay at  home parents to retirees? The inventory of talent would be eye-opening for both  locals and visitors!

Let us know what  your community resolutions are and how you plan to achieve your goals for  improvement.