LoneEagleLogosmall.jpg (2622 bytes)Homesteading the Ecommerce Frontier

Idaho's rural communities are at risk for their continued survival. The immediate need exists to revitalize the pioneering spirit that originally created them. Rural Ecommerce strategies are needed to combat the impacts of a rapidly shifting economy.

During the westward expansion many individuals headed west to find their fortunes. Perhaps as a result of such spirited independence, many western states and communities struggled with the lack of willingness to collaborate and work together. Many of Idaho's communities, however, headed west as communities - intending to build new physical communities - together. This legacy of pioneering community spirit remains today.

Just as community barn-raisings helped individual families start quickly, today community web-raisings are needed to create the web-based content and community collaborative capacity needed to sustain individual families struggling amid a shifting economy.

Rural communities slow to learn what's now available to them via the Internet risk losing citizens who will be forced to move to the city to find work. They risk replacing their neighbors with those from the city who have learned the Internet Ecommerce and telework skills which will allow them to relocate to rural communities.

Homesteading this new electronic frontier requires more than just bringing faster Internet to communities. Communities need to understand what skills, practices, and levels of commitment are required to best utilize the potential of the Internet at whatever speeds are available. Communities and individual families need to know exactly how to stake out their new Ecommerce homesteads, identify niche global markets, and work collaboratively to become "sustainable learning communities." The fact that currently there are no well-known model communities to inspire others to take concerted action suggests it is not obvious what needs to be done.

Collaborative capacity needs to be understood and celebrated. If one citizen spends ten hours gathering replicable rural Ecommerce success stories from the Internet and is able to share these resources with someone who also spent ten hours gathering similar successes - they both double the benefits of their labors. If most citizens within a community learn to similarly gather and share resources - "Then we'll all have access to all our knowledge."

The collective talents of a community must be shared to save people time and avoid unnecessary duplication of effort. But, this is possible only if everyone knows who has developed which talents and whether they are willing to share their knowledge and skills. Community networking strategies and programs will require learning new and more efficient ways of sharing information both within the community and beyond. A simple first step would be to create a public web page with an alphabetical listing by topic of mentors' expertise and email addresses as demonstrated at http://www.vrd.org/locator/alphalist.shtml.

One person with Internet skills can impact the lives of many, many others by providing instructional web tours of the best resources and skill-building experiences. A community skilled in Internet collaboration can turn an idea into action far faster than those without such skills - as suggested by the title of Bill Gates' book, Business at the Speed of Thought.

Many citizens and communities may not believe that the Internet provides them with powerful opportunities. In contrast, those with vision and the collective will to take action are already proving otherwise. Mobilizing the motivation to take control of their lives is the key to unlock their ability to take collaborative action toward purposeful outcomes.

Salmon, Idaho, lost its new telemarketing call center after its broadband infrastructure failed. Yet in Mackay, Idaho, a skilled marketing manager has 52 products posted for sale on the Internet as part of multiple local programs to stimulate local awareness for Internet entrepreneurship. Showcasing a community's skills and Internet readiness for Ecommerce and telework has become an important competitive strategy.

Creating this readiness to become a learning community requires widespread participation, and the role for educators and students has yet to be defined. Currently, many educators and students are non-participants in the cause for helping their community understand how Internet self-empowerment practices can build social and economic value and make the difference between a community which is growing and one which is dying.

The best-of-the-best Ecommerce innovations from other sources and communities need to be routinely shared locally via public web pages to fuel the home fires of local innovation.

Currently in southeast Idaho an "Ecommerce Homesteaders' Cooperative" is championing an innovative pioneering community self-empowerment program to create sustainable rural communities.

The Ecommerce Homesteaders' Cooperative proposal is online at http://lone-eagles.com/homestead.htm and articulates the specific events and processes by which communities can quickly become aware of how to take action on their own behalf. Both the social and economic opportunities for Internet collaboration are addressed through awareness presentations and a series of community events to engage local businesses, schools, churches, and community organizations of all descriptions. Western individualism will be celebrated for what individuals with vision can bring to empower their communities.

The Ecommerce Homesteaders Cooperative has created a unique workshop series for community leaders, businesspersons, and aspiring rural entrepreneurs. Through a partnership with Lone Eagle Consulting, http://lone-eagles.com a new online rural ecommerce course has been created specifically for rural citizens of all ages.

This unique mastery learning course includes a "Ecommerce and Telework Readiness Certification" which authorizes citizens to become paid mentors teaching this course to others. Certified peer mentors will host a personal electronic portfolio of resources and skills they have gathered to empower others. This program creates an incentive for local mentoring programs and for sharing local expertise in new and more efficient ways.

We're seeking partners to support a short-term pilot project to include one or more rural communities to validate the tangible outcomes our program can produce, with anticipation of rapidly expanding to meet the needs of all rural Idaho communities. We propose that community leaders take the opportunity to host an initial "Homesteading the Ecommerce Frontier" presentation for their local community to review the content and quality of the presentation, free resources, and possibilities for local action. Community leaders will be able to directly assess the reaction and level of motivation of the attending citizens.

A recommended next step would be hosting a "Circle the Wagons" meeting specifically for community leaders to review the issues and recommended solutions. Those who elect to join the Ecommerce Homesteader's Cooperative for the journey to this new uncharted territory will benefit from proven expertise and extensive resources which will become immediately available to all members of participating communities. A program unique to each community will be created to produce tangible outcomes in the short-term, celebrating with social recognition all those who contribute. Everyone in the community will be invited to participate.

New broadband satellite solutions provide an immediate cost-effective, if perhaps short-term, Internet solution. Using new satellite and wireless solutions, international rural communities will soon be on an equal competitive level with Idaho's communities. Satellite systems can serve to create the aggregate demand necessary to attract long-term fiber optic broadband solutions. Wireless systems can deliver faster, cheaper access than existing copper wire infrastructure.

This is one of those rare opportunities to stand up and do what needs to be done. Take notice: history is being made here and spirited action may prove to be decisive regarding your community's brighter future.

Additional reading:

The New Goldrush; Mining Raw Human Potential Using Free Web Tools
Part One:
Part Two:

The War Against Ignorance

See Section Four of this guide for additional related resources and articles.