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Homesteading the Electronic Frontier in Montana


What’s the best that we, as Montanans, can do to enable rural citizens in dying rural communities to allow them to derive income from their broadband connections and create sustainable jobs and communities?  The opportunity exists to articulate the high end vision supported by real success stories which could inspire rural citizens and communities to learn how to realize their full potential using broadband effectively.  


Ecommerce and Telework opportunities are booming internationally, but heartland America has yet to understand what’s possible. The Goverment Services Agency will soon announce a $2 billion federal telework initiative. Creating a citizen skills database and telework management corporation is viable and there is a significant working model from Scotland we can build upon.


The following good questions deserve real answers, as a place we can all begin:


1.      What’s the best a Montanan can hope to learn about viable income producing opportunities using broadband?

a.       Access free online self-directed lessons based on the rural ecommerce and telework successes of others

b.   Access online success story videos with links to self-directed learning resources and free web tools

c.      Access peer mentors with expertise for help getting started and building confidence


2.      What’s the best a rural community can do to stimulate economic rural broadband applications?

a.       Provide a local community technology center and ecommerce/telework incubator with training and support personnel.

b.      Match local mentors with expertise with those needing help getting started

c.       Link with other rural communities to share expertise, success stories, and economies of scale.

d.   Identify the importance of local community initiatives and peer mentoring for helping all potential beneficiaries get started learning how to benefit.


3.     What's the best a regional rural development corporation do to gather and share successful ecommerce and telework strategies?

            a. Advocate for the collection and dissemination of regional ecommerce and telework success stories

            b. Maintain an e-newletter showcasing new individual and community success stories, awareness-raising initiatives,

            c. link with other regional development organizations and initiatives to grow rural capacity for broadband
          economic development


4.  What’s the best the Governor’s office, Congresspersons, and state agencies can do to stimulate rural innovation associated with realizing widespread rural broadband innovations? 

a.       Advocate for the collection and dissemination of regional ecommerce and telework success stories

b.   Identify and broker the best support systems and resources for getting connected to these opportunities

c.   Establish a citizen skills database and telework management business like Oracle's

d.   Engage higher educational and K12 institutions in delivering 21st Century Workforce instruction

e.   Engage the private sector, non-profits, and foundations in addressing innovative initiatives


4.      What’s the best the State can do to support individuals and communities understanding how to connect to the “promise of broadband?”

a.       Specific suggestions are in the letter to the Gov. at

b.      Showcase success stories and provide a Rural Ecommerce and Telework Support Network with funding incentives for local Community Learning Centers.

c.       Implement a statewide Youth Entrepreneurship program to stop youth out-migration

d.      Advocate for Rural Community Foundations (following the Nebraska Model )


Who exactly is championing the sustainability of Montana’s rural communities?

Let’s work together to understand what opportunities exist related to appropriate training to realize the promise of rural broadband to produce economically sustainable communities. Here’s a model for Montana:

Montana Ecommerce Proposal Summary:
Montana’s economic development leaders are invited to consider creation of a Rural Ecommerce Support Network which would begin with a Rural Ecommerce Champions Award Program to celebrate Montana’s early adapters’ Ecommerce successes. An online Resources Clearinghouse would quickly evolve showcasing short video success stories, self-training online lessons, and a peer-mentoring program to establish a convenient means for Montanans to share successful strategies and learn new skills. (The letter to the Governor and the Ecommerce proposal are at


Over 520 of Montana’s 541 communities are suffering economically, and are experiencing high levels of youth out-migration. These communities need to be shown how existing Internet access can be used to supplement family incomes, retain youthful entrepreneurs, and to establish new businesses and jobs via rural Ecommerce and Telework.


Rural broadband is essential to economic development and viability in a global economy and the best training possible will be required to successfully realize the promise of broadband. Many rural communities have Internet connections but lack the educational services to connect them to Ecommerce and Telework opportunities.


State support is requested to assist rural leaders and citizens in understanding what genuine opportunities exist. At issue is how Montanans can best learn these new skills and keep up with emerging trends on an ongoing basis. There are too many scams and too many misperceptions which prohibit rural Montanans from learning how to benefit from existing rural Internet access.


There is a need for gathering and disseminating the best known Ecommerce and Telework solutions and developing culturally appropriate e-learning opportunities suitable for all rural Montanans. It is vitally important to create an Internet-enabled entrepreneurial culture in rural Montana to reverse the rural decline.

The State Workforce Board and economic development agencies need to lead by providing e-learning opportunities related to Ecommerce and Telework jobs. The university system needs to be proactive in simplifying what’s possible and providing support.


In addition, the Montana Distance Learning Task Force needs to consider the importance of teaching youth entrepreneurship as an essential component of the K12 curriculum to minimize youth out-migration.


“Planting seeds of entrepreneurship must begin early enough in a child’s primary education to establish entrepreneurship as a lifelong choice.” 

From the “Strengthening America’s Communities Initiative”


Rural Broadband for Social and Economic Applications is Essential to Community Wellness and National Global Competitiveness


The social and economic health of our rural communities depends on whether they have the basic connectivity to participate in the global economy, but beyond the physical infrastructure, they need the human expertise and support systems to connect to the very best opportunities possible.


Health Information Technology has an opportunity to link its mission to innovative ways of using broadband to build healthy communities by engaging citizens purposefully, as well as for building I.T. enabled local, regional, and national economies, and whole new lifestyles focused on sustainable broadband-enabled local community economies.


The concept of wholistic medicine is not new, but the integration of smart social and economic applications of broadband for community wellness IS.  We're looking at creating a cultural shift toward healthy living, a sustainable environment, economically sustainable rural communities, and literally a sustainable society incorporating lifelong learning and I.T. entrepreneurship. 


There are important areas related directly to Health Information Technology that require new forms of citizen participation: learning healthy living practices, keeping current on new information like which drugs are discovered to have new health risks, participating in peer support groups for specific illnesses, including addictions of all kinds, growing local community awareness for healthy living best practices, and keeping current on evolving new treatments, noting one third of medical judgments have been reported to be in error, costing 100,000 lives per year, etc. 

The most common use of the Internet is for finding health-related information... and peer-to-peer social networking (Web 2.0) is booming on many fronts...begging the issue of what's the best Health Information Technology can do to engage citizens purposefully for their own wellness, as well as their communities?  Rural America is suffering an economic decline and along with this, a slew of health-related programs (drug abuse, depression, suicide, etc.)


While many businesses are growing, particularly in our dozen largest communities, over 500 rural Montanan communities continue to suffer an economic decline. The Gov. recently announced a Council on the Economic Security for Montana Families. MT has the third highest suicide rate nationally (WY #1, AK #2) and we'll increase our prison population by 40% next year due to the meth epidemic.

It is my understanding MT and WY is short on workers for projected big energy projects but that these jobs will only be a temporary boost to MT and WY workers willing to relocate or endure long commutes. At issue is whether anybody sees rural Broadband as the key to creating sustainable clean industry jobs capable of sustaining our dying rural communities.  The big energy projects will put money into the MT and WY state coffers and those of big business but will have little impact on our dwindling rural communities. 


Who exactly is championing the sustainability of Montana’s rural communities?

The hard reality is solutions exist, but they require changes in attitude and behavior....and changing human communications behaviors is a tricky business. What we teach the current first digital generation can prove to have a dramatic positive impact on issues like youth out-migration and whether rural citizens learn how to make a living wherever they wish, or not. (ecommerce/telework.)  We're looking at creating a cultural shift toward healthy living, a sustainable environment, economically sustainable communities, and literally a sustainable society incorporating lifelong learning and I.T. entrepreneurship. 

 I.T. can lower costs for rural home care with I.T. monitoring systems, online training of home health care aids, and fewer costly doctor visits through online interaction/monitoring. How we can best support our aging population with economies of scale related to smart broadband applications is a huge issue moving to the forefront.


It was announced recently that 1000 Vets a year commit suicide each year. That's more than are killed in combat each year. Supporting people psychologically can be done online to a very significant degree. Online counseling is growing dramatically.

Quote  "Recruiting for the war tends to come primarily from small, rural America. So, what we don't have is enough mental health care for veterans in these rural communities when they come home. Last Thursday, the VA's Inspector General issued a report estimating that 1,000 vets under its care commit suicide ever year." Unquote (From IPS-Inter Press Service "Suicidal and Facing a Third Tour in Iraq") We could be teaching telework employment solutions to our 30,000 disabled vets, too.

NOTE: Health Information Technology advocates at the National Level.




Frank Odasz

Lone Eagle Consulting

2200 Rebich Lane

Dillon, MT 59725

PH/Fax 406 683 6270

Cell 406 925 2519



2010 Lone Eagle Events and Resources Update:


Lone Eagle Resources


For Montana County Commissioner’s Economic Development committee


Lone Eagle presentation descriptions are at  with my events roster at


Lone Eagle Resources to Support Rural Innovation


Community Internet Empowerment Resources
for Rural Communities
Lone Eagle’s rural community resources


Dozens of Lone Eagle articles on rural community networking are at  At the beginning of this document is a short quiz, “How smart is your rural community?”  The quiz includes a web tour with exceptional web site models.


Lone Eagle offers many rural ecommerce community grant templates already written, online, and available without restriction at

The Community Technology Review has a special section on community networking resources including the following Lone Eagle article:

What is Community Networking; And Why You Should Care  Many related links are listed in the overall publication.


The following article was written for an Australian govt. conference on rural and indigenous broadband applications.

Authenticating Rural Internet and Broadband Benefits - A Reality Check Required reading for rural citizens and leaders.
Written for the Australian Government for national empowerment of all their communities.


The Lone Eagle paper related to presentations for the
National Conference of State Legislatures’ EDTECH Committee:
Reforming Educational, Economic Development, and Healthcare Institutions:
 An Executive Summary for State Legislators

A Non-Technical Overview of the Impacts of Information Technologies  
Lone Eagle NCSL presentation handout


An Info-Tech Rural Community Wellness Strategy
for Healthy Alaskan Native and Native American Communities 
Much more at


More on Lone Eagle Rural Economic Development and other resources:
Lone Eagles has just finished three years providing rural presentations on "Entry-Level Rural Ecommerce" for the USDOL "Montana Choice" project.


“A Beginner’s Guide to Profiting From the Internet”

A non-credit online class with ten two-hour lessons on what's working for others like you with Ecommerce and Telework developed for rural adults who have never taken an online course.

The Power of All of Us? The eBay Lesson for Community Development
The New Gold Rush; Are You Ready?   Part II:
Themes from the Frontier of Rural Community Development, written for the
Journal of Municipal Telecommunication Policy, March 2001


The Future of Community Development;
Making the Living You Want, Living Wherever You Want
Written for a forthcoming book on rural community development to be published
by TechnoPress "Future Courses; A Compendium of Thought about Education,
Technology and the Future.

Community Networking Hits Media Mainstream (Almost)--
And Makes Its Own News   (4 pages)

"Reaching the Tipping Point for the New Generation of Community Networks (9 pages)

Community Networking Best Practices and Global Citizenship:
A Knowledge Management Trend Report

See two new Lone Eagle articles in the
Spring 2006 CTC VISTA Digest

Peer-to-Peer Social Networking; The Next Big Thing

Empowering Americans: CTC VISTAs in Community Networking


Recent and Upcoming Lone Eagle Presentations:
(Multi-media presentations are available with recent presentations listed at and presentation titles and descriptions at )

Lone Eagle traveled to Guatemala to facilitate the formal creation of the
Indigenous ICT Commission of the Americas.


Montana-Specific Strategies


Montana Mentors Innovation Incubators Pilot Project   Oct. 2010


Montana's Strategy for 21st Century Workforce Readiness for All Oct. 2010


            21st Century Workforce Basics Outline

21st Century Workforce Readiness for Montanans
A Course of Action for Montanan Digital Inclusion

Digital Literacy and Digital Inclusion Best Practices

Growing an Entrepreneurial Culture in Montana in 3-5 years


Montana Center for Sustainable Rural Families
Dillon Center for Broadband Excellence

Feasibility Study Proposal Summary   Dec. 2008


            Montana’s Center for Sustainable Rural Families
Training and Content - Best Practices by Sector   Dec. 2008


            Homesteading the Ecommerce Frontier

Summative common sense first steps for individuals, rural communities, regional and state agencies regarding the most cost effective methods for raising awareness on the benefits of broadband.


Establishing a Montana Rural Ecommerce Support Network

            2007 Letter to Governor Schweitzer

2009 Follow-up letter
Creating a Rural Montana Ecommerce and Telework Support Network  


            Suggestions for Montanan State Innovations for Economic Development


            Rural Grant Templates


Rural broadband articles by Lone Eagle Consulting

            Montana Choice Mentoring Program and Mission


Montana Ecommerce Success Stories


            Ecommerce Successes - A Collection of Web Tours


Making It Happen in Dillon, Montana;


Dillon’s Business Web Directory