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Community-based Initiatives for Raising Ecommerce Awareness

By Frank Odasz  Email: frank@lone-eagles.com


The following is preface for a discussion on creating sustainable CAP sites by focusing on Internet applications related primarily to economic development. On the table is the question as to how best to roll out a national program focused on 'community-based initiatives to generate ecommerce awareness.'  The result we seek is fast-track generation of literally thousands of new rural ecommerce initiatives. Inherent in the proposed design below is generation of social capital and widespread upskilling of the majority of citizens to prepare communities for yet higher levels of benefits such as E-democracy.


All around us, even in rural Canada, innovative ecommerce businesses are popping up at an accelerated rate. Many started with first ecommerce experiences with simple online auction sites like eBay. Despite such rural success stories existing in literally every rural community, the majority of citizens remain oblivious to the opportunities at their fingertips. With the average hourly wage dropping by one dollar per year, the need exists to raise rural awareness as rapidly as possible while providing the convenient training and support systems necessary to leverage the economic creative potential of all Canadians to compete in the global “innovation economy.”


A recommended short article
The Power of All of Us? — The eBay Lesson for Community Development
 by Frank Odasz for the Community Technology Review

Here are two of my latest articles appearing June 13th, in the new issue of Community Technology Review:www.comtechreview.org This next weekend is the national Community Technology Centers Network conference. www.ctcnet.org

The CTC VISTA Project ­ Update for Year 6: 2005-'06
http://www.comtechreview.org/spring-summer-2005/000337.html Funding for Vista volunteers is available. Frank Odasz will serve as community networking coordinator.

Report on Open Space Austin Community Networking Conference



An immediate opportunity exists to gather and share these success stories across all rural Canadian communities to help people understand that the Internet puts a global market at your fingertips in even the most remote of communities that have Internet access. Creating a national rural E-community organisation with a regular newsletter celebrating rural innovations and sharing support resources would create a purposeful “community-of-communities.” Innovative communities need the opportunity to identify themselves.


Currently, none of the many organizations within our rural communities have taken the leadership for raising ecommerce awareness and the need exists to set a new standard for the minimal first steps all rural communities need to understand are becoming increasingly vital to their survival. New models need to be made explicit for sharing community-based innovations with communities supporting each other as peers by gathering and sharing that new knowledge which generates new opportunities.


A community-based initiative supported by Industry Canada can only have meaning if each community demonstrates true ownership of the concept and mobilizes citizens to take meaningful action. The just-released New Zealand Digital Strategy has a co-funding model, but lacks specific action plan strategies http://www.digitalstrategy.govt.nz 


What the best CAP sites or telecenters really are - is effective community learning programs, and good community networks merely take this energy into the convenient virtual realm where the reach is unlimited for gathering and sharing "that new knowledge which generates new opportunities – on an International basis."  Specific skills and best practices for generating real collaborative capacity using Internet collaboration tools needs to be made explicit by validating the genuine community benefits.


Economic sustainability for CAP sites might find a viable beginning with the Ebay drop off center model, to additionally create peer training for-profit services in a Kinkos service center model. Ebay users exchanged 28 billion last year, often with limited technical training, and Ebay has expanded into 31+ countries.  A lesson on Ebay alternatives is at http://lone-eagles.com/auctions.htm  which includes Ebay Drop Off center descriptions.


A draft simple five-step strategy for the “Montana Choice” demonstration project for the U.S. Department of Labor is offered as suggested recommendations for rural community first steps: http://lone-eagles.com/montana-choice-2005.htm 


Summarized Five-Steps:
1. Begin with a community presentation on innovations of other rural    
2. Engage citizens in online lessons for overview of ecommerce success stories     
    and opportunities.

3. Engage local mentors interested in helping others and/or developing for-profit
    mentoring services in return for advanced training received while training

4. Engage community leaders, with emphasis on elected leaders and K12
    administrators and educators, in understanding the importance of key action
    strategies, youth involvement, and essential first steps which do not require
    outside funding such as;


A. Conduct a local web review of existing local business web sites and Internet entrepreneurs
B. Create a local web directory of all local business web sites and plan a
     co-marketing initiative to support all of them.

C. Establish a mentors roster and a marketable community skills registry

D. Establish an ecommerce virtual incubator using
            peer mentors to generate for-profit peer training services to assure
            everyone can find the expertise they need.

E. Engage leaders in defining goals for the first small steps, and in grant-writing for integrated common sense projects that involve citizens in meaning activities that produce visible results in the short term - as defined in the following grant template:     


“Sustainable Ecommerce Educational Development Strategies
is at http://lone-eagles.com/seeds.htm


            5. Establish a local virtual ecommerce incubator modeled after the
                Lone Eagle Self-Employment Incubator now hosted by Canada’s
                K-Net at http://lone-eagles.knet.ca 


Note: One of the main goals of any CAP training center needs to be teaching online collaboration skills in conjunction with establishing a local community network to generate collaborative capacity for sharing new knowledge conveniently on a regular basis. Whereas most people need onsite face-to-face support for initial skills transfer – the real power is when we can all learn-to-learn online, and particularly learn-to-EARN …online!


Entrance to the Digital Economy –
          Growing an Entrepreneurial Culture

Rural broadband deployment in Canada and the U.S. has stalled due to lack of visible benefits. The following will rekindle broadband deployment by focusing on genuine outcomes instead of presumptions.


The need is to focus on info-structure projects, widespread citizen engagement, new skills transfer, strategies to generate entry-level web-based businesses, and new telework matches - recruiting Canadian businesses for hiring teleworkers while simultaneously recruiting and training rural teleworkers.


Government has the tendency to create fancy portal sites without engaging citizens or communities directly. This gives the appearance of progress but fails to produce widespread skills transfer and activity. Industry Canada needs to formally acknowledge the current level of widespread innovation by gathering, celebrating, and sharing Canadian Ecommerce innovations. The need is to grow an entrepreneurial culture ready and able to compete in the global innovation economy. Innovative people-centered initiatives are necessary to gather and share that new knowledge which produces new opportunities.


Government funding models need to recognize that too many short term projects are funded without knowledge of similar projects and particularly what resources have already been created. Results are often not monitored, but presumed. Perhaps the reason is projects and Government are “risk adverse” and avoid any chance of being criticized, but we need to learn to accept risks are part of the innovation/reinvention process.  The opportunity exists to design a process whereby results are authenticated as generated by community actions and necessary design adjustments can be made as needed on an ongoing basis.


Addressing Aboriginal ICT Innovations and Opportunities

Many existing innovations in Canada need to be showcased and celebrated. I'm working with K-Net to help them establish their own model for stimulating community-based initiatives around ecommerce as well as cultural expression.  The Lone Eagle Overview of K-Net’s innovations is at http://lone-eagles.com/indigenous_resources.htm  The Lone Eagle Self-Employment Incubator with deep content is now hosted by K-Net at http://lone-eagles.knet.ca  This resource can easily be replicated and customized for every rural community. I.E. $300 installation and $25/month.



We need to create the means for keeping everyone current on an ongoing basis by continually sharing summative success stories, training solutions, new tools, resources and innovations…in an inclusive manner that allows citizens and communities to feel they are an integral part of the Canadian economic reinvention process. Online learning needs to be a new part of everyone’s lives; everyone both learner and teacher, both consumer and producer, all the time.


Resource Appendices


Lone Eagle Consulting’s Best Resources to Support Rural Innovation
 are listed at http://lone-eagles.com/future-proofing.htm


The following are additional examples of resources written specifically to guide rural communities in the right direction by focusing on actions they can take themselves, often without requiring external funding.


The Bootstrap Academy lists recommended awareness-raising event models.



The Good Neighbor’s Guide to Community Networking presents an understandable vision for what a community network can be. (The first two short chapters are strongly recommended.)  http://lone-eagles.com/cnguide.htm (Remaining chapters need updating)


Creating People-Centered Community Knowledge Networks  -
A six question self-quiz on rural community ‘smartness’
complete with web site examples of model rural community innovations. This short quiz is followed by extensive resources created specifically for rural citizens regarding community networking and ecommerce as a rural economic development strategy. http://lone-eagles.com/smart.htm


An online “train-the-trainers” course “A Beginner’s Guide to Profiting from the Internet” is a model for providing an initial painless overview for “what’s already working for others like you regarding ecommerce and telework.” http://lone-eagles.com/ecom.htm


Inevitably, it will be clear that online peer instruction is the only way we'll generate enough educators to train everyone globally, and good online instruction can become a for-profit business growing out of successful volunteered online training. The need is not for a one-time instructional boost, but for an ongoing program keeping everyone current on an ongoing basis. Creating a mentors roster in each community to facilitate peer skills transfer has many positive dimensions which I've articulated at length elsewhere.



Additional links mentioned during the conference call.


Scotland Telework  www.work-global.com


Montpelier Success Stories http://batsbatsbats.com  and http://lone-eagles.com/connect-idaho.htm


International Community Networking Clearinghouse


Rural Satellite and Wireless Internet Alternatives


Free Ecommerce Web sites available at http://tripod.com Select Site Builder


Frank, You gave us the site for promoting our website, and I made mine the day I got home.   http://mceda89415.tripod.com

 I have 4 new businesses set up on the internet and have been teaching my business people how to do this.

Shelley Hartmann, Executive Director

Mineral County Economic Development Authority

P O Box 1635 Hawthore, Nevada   89415


Selling Alfalfa as Bunny Food http://www.sunroadsfarmory.com

By Ron Ridesatthedoor – who now trains others how to create ecommerce sites complete with affiliate programs and an e-marketing plan.


15 free ecommerce web sites and a community web site in a one day workshop


Association for Community Networking