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Celebrating in Bemidji and Cass Lake – Rural Voices Check-in

Written by Steven Clift

As we wind up the final activities in our Rural Voices effort supported by the Blandin Foundation we will be visiting our new Issues Forum communities to celebrate online participation efforts thus far and to gather lessons and input for what is next.

Fighting to Keep a Chicken Permit in Bemidji

Issues Forums evolve over time. After initial start-up, they can benefit significantly from periodic in-person recruitment (the paper sign-ups we promote) and discussion seeding/announcement sharing. Because we don’t rely on web traffic (e-mail delivery is the default), what is most important is a compelling reason for someone to use the forum be it saving your chicken permit in Bemidji or fighting the tar sands pipeline which is proposed to go near Cass Lake from Canada. For weeks a forum may seem almost dormant, particularly during the summer, then one e-mail and bang back in business. Prior to the picnics we will be sharing tips on “information seeking and discussion seeding” to help you keep your forums active and continue to grow members.

If the drive isn’t too far and you want to learn about Issues Forums from actual participants, we have two parties planned as well as the mini-trainings. Ed Davis and I may also have time to meet on the side. So join us.

Wed. Sep 23 – Bemidji: EVite

Thu. Sep 24 – Cass Lake: EVite

We haven’t set our Cook County, MN visit yet and while Grand Rapids is funded as part a different project, we plan to connect with that community as well.

Going forward, all of our local Issues Forums (except the Frogtown and Cedar Riverside neighborhood forums) are in what we call “all volunteer” mode where the local communities are in the lead position when it comes to their destiny. Participant technical support (Ed’s help for members) and hosting is also supported by donations (and/or future sponsorship and advertising).

Steven Clift

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