E-Democracy participated in the Minnesota Broadband Summit in Duluth, Minnesota earlier this month. Here is our “virtual exhibition” post from their conference blog.
Broadband Conference Exhibitor:Â E-Democracy.org
E-Democracy.org:2012 Broadband Conference Exhibitor
E-Democracy helps strengthen local communities using online tools to create meaningful connections and increase civic engagement by providing a local, cost-effective model for online discussion spaces.
We are a Minnesota-based nonprofit organization with 87 community forums in 5 states and 3 countries, as well as a number of communities of practice supporting online civic engagement globally. Our mission is to harness the power of online tools to support participation in public life, strengthen communities, and build democracy.
We believeÂ the perceived value of statewide broadband adoption can be supported with local online community engagement.Â TheÂ Minnesota Rural VoicesÂ initiative of the Blandin Foundation supported the launch of community forums inÂ Bemidji,Â Cass Lake/Leech Lake, andÂ Cook County, the relaunch of theÂ Winona Community Forum, and the formation of theÂ Grand Rapids Area Issues ForumÂ (in conjunction with KAXEâ€™sÂ Northern Community Internet Project). 2009 efforts included theÂ Minnesota Voices Online UnconferenceÂ in Duluth.
We also believeÂ efforts to address the digital divide must provide intentional efforts to engage low income, highly diverse populationsÂ and are currently working to go deep with inclusion while going to scale across Saint Paul. In the summer of 2012, we tripled the size of the Saint Paul forums with the greatest growth in the lowest income, most highly diverse neighborhoods. There are nowÂ 42 Twin Citiesâ€™
Neighbor ForumsÂ with 15,000+ participants.
Meet the Representatives
Sally FinedayÂ was theÂ Cass Lake-Leech Lake Community ForumÂ Outreach Leader before joining the planning staff at theÂ Leech Lake Band of Ojibewe. With her passion for the connection between broadband access and building community, the forum grew from 212 to 300 members.â€œBeing able to participate in online community building is about more than technology. Itâ€™s about affordability and making it so we can all participate in the online spaces we create. This is especially important for our community where the distances between us are so great.â€Â Sally continues to provide outreach assistance while we look toÂ fill this position. Her organizing experience includes four years as the Executive Director ofNative Vote Alliance of MinnesotaÂ and two years withÂ Take Action Minnesota. She studied at Bemidji State University.
Jennifer ArmstrongÂ is a member of E-Democracyâ€™s core team, providing assistance in a variety of capacities. She studied at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where she was the first student to graduate with a B.A. in Women Studies and Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Jennifer is walking the talk of the 21st century economy, doing most of her work from a farm on theÂ Iron RangeÂ in Northeast Minnesota.