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Getting it Done: Advocacy and Action

October 13, 2021 | Session Notes and Video

A series of fast-moving presentations about efforts across Minnesota to improve access and adoption and advocate for broadband investment. Presentation and Discussion. Moderated by Bernadine Joselyn, Blandin Foundation

Minnesota Broadband: Land of Ten Thousand Connectivity Solutions

Minnesota communities have found an array of creative, practical solutions to expanding fast, reliable, affordable, and locally accountable broadband access to tens of thousands of homes all across the state over the last decade. In this report, we revisit networks, cities, counties, and small Internet Service Providers to see how they’ve met and overcome challenges in an arena more friendly to the out-of-state monopoly providers. We’re excited to talk about how evidence from around the state shows that citizens looking for better Internet access aren’t limited to just one or two paths to success, and share those stories of local persistence, clear vision, and creative execution.

Learn more and download the report here.

Ry Marcattilio-McCracken, Senior Researcher, Community Broadband Networks initiative, Institute for Local Self-Reliance (Mankato, MN). Ry writes about community networks of all shapes and sizes, in addition to undertaking long-term research projects on the benefits of broadband infrastructure investment to competition, telehealth interventions, economic development, community savings, and local resiliency. He has a PhD in American History from Oklahoma State University, with research emphases in the history of science, technology, and medicine. He tweets @galtonsbox.

Workforce Movers in Rural Minnesota

In 2019 the University of Minnesota conducted a study of newcomers to 20 rural counties across Minnesota. Hear about qualities of these newcomers and how communities have changed due to their migration with a focus on broadband satisfaction and telecommuting. This session will also advance a discussion about broadband as economic development in rural communities by differentiating between download consumption and upload production.

Benjamin Winchester, Rural Sociology Educator, University of Minnesota Extension.
Ben has been working both in and for small towns across the Midwest for over 25 years. He lives in St. Cloud, Minnesota with his wife and two children. Ben is trained as a Rural Sociologist and works as a Senior Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension, Center for Community Vitality. He conducts applied research on economic, social, and demographic topics surrounding a theme of “rewriting the rural narrative” that are vital to rural America. He received the Rural Renewal Research Prize in 2021 for this work.

Surveys, Data and Stories to Inform Policy and Investment

Ann Treacy and Ben Winchester look into two reports based on surveys from communities in East Central MN working with Blandin Foundation through it’s Community Broadband Resources: Accelerate! program to improve broadband.

The reports:

Ann Treacy, Treacy Information Services
Ann authors and manages the Blandin on Broadband blog. She has worked on broadband issues since 1994 – both supporting deployment of broadband and helping people and businesses better use broadband through digital inclusion training and online marketing consulting. Ann has a Master’s degree in Library and Information Science as well as a Master’s in Literature. You can learn more at Treacy, Treacy Information Services, St. Paul, MN with Ben Winchester

Partnership for ConnectedMN: A Community-Responsive, Public-Private Partnership

Partnership for ConnectedMN was established in May 2020 to address digital inequities surfacing in the height of the pandemic for K – 12 students. To date, ConnectedMN has provided almost $7M in grants to organizations providing devices, internet connectivity and digital support to  Minnesota students. The partnership has also established and continued to build a learning community for community leaders working in this area, culminating in a virtual roundtable with over 180 attendees in July 2021. Anne and Hussein will share how the partnership was established and focus on how the group continually adapted to provide community-informed relief and support for Minnesota students over the last year and a half.

Anne Hoyt Taff, Associate Vice President of Community Impact, Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation
Anne has worked at the Saint Paul & Minnesota Foundation since 2016. As associate vice president of community impact, Anne works to build community capacity through philanthropic and community initiatives that address a wide range of issues facing Minnesota. Anne is a facilitator and advocate, energized by building networks to respond to community need. Anne is grateful for the company and entertainment provided by her husband, a teacher in St. Paul, and two young children.

Hussein Farah, Founder and Executive Director, New Visions Foundation, St. Paul, MN
Hussein is the Founder and Executive Director of the New Vision Foundation, a nonprofit organization that engages, motivates, and inspires disadvantaged youth through coding and digital literacy classes. A social entrepreneur and a strategic business developer, Farah has extensive experience leading local, national and global efforts to create community-centered, asset-based solutions that advance community economic development and social justice. He co-founded the African Development Center, a nonprofit that provides guidance and financial success to African immigrants in Minnesota, and has received a number of local, national and international awards recognizing his vision, leadership and community contributions.  Farah is passionate about increasing the participation of minority communities in the high-tech industry as a means of solving racial income disparities in Minnesota. He is a 2018 Bush Fellow at the Bush Foundation, and a 2017/2018 Public Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey School of Public Affairs.


Bernadine Joselyn has served as director of Blandin Foundation’s Public Policy and Engagement program since 2001. Here she leads efforts to facilitate the building of knowledge and catalyze community action around issues and opportunities that align with the Foundation’s mission of strengthening rural Minnesota communities, especially the Grand Rapids area.

Beginning in 2003 she has led the foundation’s broadband programming in rural communities across the state. She represents rural communities on the Governor’s Broadband Task Force.

A native of Minnesota, Bernadine has a master’s degree in international affairs and a certificate in advanced Soviet studies from Columbia University. Bernadine spent the first 15 years of her professional life in Soviet (and then post-Soviet) Affairs. She served seven years as diplomat with the U.S. Department of State, where —  after an initial tour in New Delhi, India — she was assigned to Moscow, Russia, and Washington, D.C., focused on the U.S.-Soviet/Russian relationship. After the collapse of the Soviet Union Bernadine left the diplomatic corps to work on international academic and cultural exchange programs with the International Research & Exchanges Board (IREX) and subsequently the Eurasia Foundation, where she oversaw a $5 million annual grant program.

In 2000 Bernadine returned to Minnesota to complete a second master’s degree in public policy at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.

Return to October 13 Agenda

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