e-Vermont Newsletter ~ March 2011 Edition
The e-Vermont Community Broadband Project, led by VCRD, is now active in 24 Vermont rural communities. The towns are tapping into the expertise and resources of e-Vermont’s statewide partners as the local groups develop ways to take full advantage of the Internet for creating jobs and innovative schools, providing social services, and increasing community connection. These towns, selected from a larger pool of applicants, are among the first to explore how the Internet can be harnessed as a tool for addressing local challenges.
“We’re working with rural communities to support the best use of high speed Internet tools in business, government, and education, and help eliminate the digital divide,” says Project Director Helen Labun Jordan, “Rural regions can’t be left behind in digital skills. We may be receiving high speed Internet later than more urban areas, but e-Vermont is helping our towns make up for lost time.”
e-Vermont is one of only twelve projects nationwide to have received first round funding from the federal Sustainable Broadband Adoption grants program and one of only two that takes a community-based approach. This program focuses on use of broadband after infrastructure has been developed, as both a complement to infrastructure funding and a way to build a better business case for broadband in previously underserved areas.
The 2010 towns (see map) are already seeing great benefits, including:
Vermont’s congressman Peter Welch visited Poultney Elementary School last month to learn about how the 5th and 6th grade students and teachers are using their new Netbooks to transform the classroom. Vermont’s congressional delegation was instrumental in helping the e-Vermont Community Broadband Project get started. Congressman Welch had an opportunity to meet with students and have an in-depth discussion with representatives from e-Vermont partners Digital Wish, Small Business Development Center and Vermont Council on Rural Development on broader goals of the project. You can virtually experience what happens in the Digital Wish classroom through their new blog.
In This Issue:
Statewide e-Vermont Events:
Citizens in a Connected Age: Improve Your Skills Using Internet Tools at March 5 Workshop
Internet Safety for Parents: Participate in this free webinar from home
Save the Date: e-Vermont Statewide Conference: May 21, 2011, Vermont Technical College, Randolph
e-Vermont is holding workshops to promote digital tools and training in communities across the state. See the FULL CALENDAR for details.
For More Information about e-Vermont
Contact Helen Labun Jordan, Program Director, at 802-225-6091 or visit www.e4vt.org.
Front Porch Forum (FPF) was created in 2006 in Burlington to provide a simple way to strengthen neighborhood connections. Think of it as a digital trading post or virtual town square. People use the service to find plumbers, report car break-ins, give away strollers, rally volunteers for pie suppers, trade equipment, and describe wildlife sightings. Topics also include school budget debates, candidates for town office, supporting an ill neighbor, raising funds after a house fire, starting a local food shelf - all discussed with a civil and constructive tone.
Each e-Vermont community now has its own FPF and all town residents are encouraged to sign up for this free service. It’s as easy as visiting www.frontporchforum.com and filling in the short form. Even if you are not in an e-Vermont town you can sign up and FPF will let you know when they expand to your area.
Towns have built momentum for their forums in different ways. Some locations had very active local supporters canvassing neighbors, setting up shop at town meetings, and building a large number of subscribers very quickly. Other communities build steadily over time. In some cases towns were spurred by a discussion topic of great local interest that caused neighbors to look for a place where respectful dialogue could take place. In neighborhoods with more established forums, some have almost every household subscribing!
The more people use Front Porch Forum, the better informed they become about what’s going on around town and the easier it is to connect with neighbors offline too. It's no wonder that Front Porch Forum is winning national accolades for its community building innovations.
Although the e-Vermont Community Broadband Project can only bring in-depth services to 24 communities, it is offering tools and resources to all of Vermont through workshops, conferences, webinars, online tools, and the continuing programs of its partner organizations. Here are a few already scheduled:
Improve Your Skills Using Internet Tools at March 5 Workshop
This low-cost day-long workshop takes place March 5, 2011, at Lyndon State College in Lyndonville, Vermont from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Geared towards participants with basic- to intermediate computer skills, the classes offered will introduce new skills and how to apply them. Topics to choose from include a chance to learn about business tools, advanced social media, technology troubleshooting, digital storytelling, building town websites, keeping private information secure online, online financial transactions for businesses or organizations, and more.
e-Vermont partner The Snelling Center for Government is organizing this training. The Snelling Center is committed to providing opportunities for all Vermont residents to develop leadership skills in any field and to helping all citizens engage with public policy development at the local, regional, and state levels. Unique to this workshop is a train-the-trainer theme, encouraging participants to teach citizens in their own towns about how to use these tools at work, at school, and to benefit the community.
Workshop cost is only $12 and includes classes, refreshments and lunch. For more information and to pre-register online, click here or contact the event coordinator, Joanna Cummings at 802-859-3090 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Walk-ins will be accepted on the day of the conference, but some individual classes may be full.
Participate in this free webinar from home
Webinars are a great tool for bringing an expert (virtually) into your house for instruction on an important topic. This March, the e-Vermont Community Broadband Project is launching its own series of webinars with Internet Safety for Parents. During this half-hour session you’ll learn about steps you can take to keep your kids protected online, including tips for privacy settings, passwords, safe searching, and more.
These webinars are presented by e-Vermont partner the Vermont State Colleges and led by Larraby Fellows, Public Services Librarian at the Community College of Vermont. The topic coincides with the safety information e-Vermont partner Digital Wish is providing to students as part of their work in 4th – 6th grades.
NOTE: The same webinar is repeated 3 times for your convenience:
May 21, 2011, Vermont Technical College, Randolph
Save the date for a full day of workshops, talks and networking to help all leaders in rural communities solve local challenges and meet key goals through an expanded use of Internet tools.