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The Story of Two years of
Homesteading the Ecommerce Frontier
in Montpelier, Idaho

  by Frank Odasz,  frank@lone-eagles.com

The following is the trail of stories, events, and resources showing how a small Southeast Idaho town is coming to understand and embrace the potential of local high-speed wireless Internet for citizen involvement, capacity building, and ecommerce- to create an economically sustainable community. Our hope is this story will serve to inspire others to take action to determine their own destinies.

February, 2002 presentations on "True Community Internet Empowerment" were given in four SE Idaho communities. Five persons attended the Montpelier presentation held at the Idaho State University Outreach Center - including the president of the Montpelier chamber of commerce. As a result, the president helped grow interest in a follow-up presentation.

February-March, 2002, Margaret Phelps, director of the Idaho State University College of Technology Workforce Training Office, contracted with Frank Odasz, of Lone Eagle Consulting, to create a low-cost online class specifically intended to be a first online learning experience for rural citizens to raise their awareness regarding what's working for others via rural Ecommerce success stories, related Internet resources, and essential Internet skills.

A short article was written to set the context for the current challenges under discussion:

"Homesteading the Ecommerce Frontier"

This paper soon grew to become an action plan for a grant proposal:

Homesteading the Electronic Frontier - A Community Action Plan
The 2001 vision paper for Montpelier, Idaho, and all Idahoan communities.

April, 2002, a presentation was held at the local Oregon Trail Museum theater with 35 persons attending, hosted by local leaders from the chamber of commerce and local banks. At the conclusion, over a dozen individuals signed up for the online course "Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies" which was announced for the first time at this event.

"Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies" - A Unique Online Course
Described at http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce-registration.htm
The ten two-hour lessons are at http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce.htm
The 200 page Rural Ecommerce handbook is at
http://lone-eagles.com/eguide.htm   Printed copies available.

Carol Williams created a Potato Web Tour while taking this online course.

May, 2002, a special presentation was given to the local hospital staff.

Hospital Presentation Flyer 
The Bear Lake Hospital director would like to support local Ecommerce awareness as a component of community wellness and requested a special presentation for his staff to explore the possibilities. Which organizations are ready to demonstrate leadership within a given community varies widely.

June, 2002 - After several follow-up visits by Idaho State University staff - an event was planned as a fundraiser for a local community improvement project and to help raise local awareness regarding entry-level Ecommerce opportunities represented by Ebay.com. The event was titled "A New Age Garage Sale."

A New Age Garage Sale - "Montpelier Ecommerce Pioneers Lead the Way"
A New Age Garage Sale was held to raise awareness on online auction sites, Ecommerce opportunities, and community Internet applications.\

November, 2002 - A meeting with the Ecommerce steering committee was held to define future directions.

January, 2003 - Forty-two persons attended an "Introduction to Ebay" workshop presented by local Ebay expert, Jared Caldwell.

February. 2003 - Three days of awareness and training events were hosted by the first Bear Lake Technology Fair using primarily local experts. These events included:

A hands-on exploration of existing Rural Emall models and related web sites specifically for the Ecommerce Steering Committee.

Trained 65 JRHS students to use search engines to gather graphics and to create their first web pages.

Held two Family Multimedia Scrapbooking sessions demonstrating digital photography, digital storytelling, web authoring, CDROM authoring, and other family-oriented multimedia applications.
A scrapbooks web tour was created at http://lone-eagles.com/family-scrapbooks.htm

Workshops presented by Local Experts included:
Photographs Restored Digitally - Presented by webmaster Dan Parchman
Digital Music - Presented by Beth Tofoya
Digital Art - Presented by Beth Tofoya
Internet for Dummies - Presented by Elaine Parchman
Internet Ecommerce Success - Tips for getting started presented by
                                                    successful Ecommerce pioneers
                                                    Shane and Mandy Johnson
Ebay Questions and Answers presented by local Ebay expert Jared Caldwell

Outreach to Neighboring Communities
The first "Kick-off" three-hour presentation was given in Soda Springs in direct response to the interest created by all the "buzz" going on with Ecommerce in Montpelier.

March, 2003 - The first formal rural development Ecommerce grant was submitted by the Montpelier Ecommerce Steering committee, Idaho State University, and Lone Eagle Consulting. Details available on request.

Local Ecommerce success stories have begun to be identified and shared regularly in the local newspaper along with motivational articles to raise awareness on how rural citizens are learning to benefit from Internet opportunities. Most were surprised at how many success stories existed just down the street! Here they are:

A Rural Ecommerce Success Story  - http://batsbatsbats.com
The janitor from the High School retired after creating a successful Ecommerce business selling baseball bats globally. This model can be replicated for many other products. 50-120 packages are shipped daily both nationally and internationally. He has successfully homesteaded his global niche and and is expanding with five new websites...which are:

Walton Feed's Emergency Survival Products
http://waltonfeed.com  and http://rainydayfoods.com
A success story of Ecommerce survival selling emergency food products.

Magic Stables Designer Carousel Horses
Compelling music and animations on a very well designed site! Averaging roughly 100 visitors a day.  Click on Pamela's MIDI page for more music. Created by Pam Bywater Email:"Pam Bywater" <spellbinder1222@hotmail.com>

An Ebay-Ecommerce Pioneer
Using the online auction service 'Ebay.com' Jared was able to create his own business. Jared is now teaching others locally how they, too, can learn to be successful.

Rocking E-Ranch
Dan and Elaine Parchman have provided the expertise to build Montpelier's first E-Mall at http://www.clovercreekmall.com. They have also created an outstanding example of a family scrapbook web site!

Learning to Work from Anywhere
How a small town boy learned the skills to enable him to return home to his preferred lifestyle.

Montpelier's New Emall
In February, '03, the Ecommerce steering committee decided to create a community emall.  They have volunteered many hours in finding shopping carts, registering as a non-profit business, setting up checking and credit card accounts, and finding business partners who would like to begin selling their products online.  Clover Creek Mall" will soon be open for business at http://www.clovercreekmall.com with a rapidly growning number of crafts businesses selling products ranging from handmade quilts to lotions to jewelry to wood carvings. Take a look!

Montpelier's Partners - and a Major Grant Submitted!
Margart Phelps, phelmarg@isu.edu, director of the Idaho State University College of Technology Workforce Training Office, worked with Frank Odasz, frank@lone-eagles.com, of Lone Eagle Consulting, to write a draft grant proposal with an ideal plan for Montpelier. This proposal was modified as a formal paper to present at a conference in Australia for attendees from 12 countries. The conference was titled "Information Technology in Regional Areas" Rockhampton, Australia, Aug. 26-29, 2002  See the description for the Rural Ecommerce pre-conference workshop "You don't have to understand it to use IT (Information Technology) at  http://itira.cqu.edu.au  

And We've Only Just Begun!
As of February, 2003, the number of interested leaders has grown significantly and neighboring communities have begun to request presentations to help them better understand what they, too, can do on behalf of their own futures. A formal Ecommerce steering committee is defining a mission statement and meets regularly. A community Ecommerce grant has been written and submitted April 23, 2003, and an Emall is being created to host local business web sites. A major three-year grant project is under development to bring Montpelier's success to other Idahoan communities.


U.S. Dept. of Commerce Grant Proposal for Montpelier, Idaho
http://lone-eagles.com/top.htm  Expanded version http://lone-eagles.com/top-expanded.htm
Ten First Steps  for Community Ecommerce and Telework Preparedness
http://lone-eagles.com/ten-first-steps.htm  NOTE: We didn't get funded, but we'll try again and will be improving our action plan.

The Montana Choice Project Providing Online Ecommerce and Telework Training
http://lone-eagles.com/MJTPChoiceProject.htm Montana's Job Training Partnership won a $3 million dollar grant to include online ecommerce and telework training via one-stops...using curriculum originally developed for Idaho.

  Youth Entrepreneurship Grant for Bear Lake School District
  What Idaho’s K12 educators are teaching the first digital generation will determine whether    
  students know how to use the Internet to realize an income in order to prevent their exodus to
  the cities to find a job, or not! 

Montpelier Successes Featured in the Community Technology Review
http://www.comtechreview.org  and the specific article "Common Ground for Alaska, Jamaica, and Rural Idaho" is at  http://www.comtechreview.org/spr2003/article_body_spr03.asp?article_ID=299

Jan. 30, 2003, Montpelier's successes were also featured in a televised keynote address by Frank Odasz in Jamaica, for a conference on information and communications technologies. ( www.ictjamaica.com ) Montpelier has been featured in several other 2002 keynote addresses for the Rural Workforce 2002 conference, the Nevada Rural Telecommunications Task Force, and the Alaskan Workforce Investment Act conference.

June 2003, a crafter's picnic was held to celebrate the launch of the Clover Creek Mall and 36 crafters attended. July 2003, a presentation on the year's successes was given to a general meeting of the Bear Lake Valley Chamber of Commerce. Preparations are underway for a Community Network Web-raising to be held in August where youth from Montpelier will create content intended to benefit the community and will be learning to use an interactive photogallery, discussion forums, newsletter and more.

A web tour of the most interesting web page features in the Montpelier area is at http://lone-eagles.com/montpelierwebtour.htm and includes additional regional Ecommerce success stories as well as a listing of entities promoting SE Idaho.

An E-Mall's web tour with a hands-on searching activity was used for a local workshop which resulted in the creation of the Clover Creek Mall. http://lone-eagles.com/emalls.htm

Montpelier's new Web Business Directory is at http://www.clovercreekmall.com/business.html  and includes additional regional Ecommerce success stories as well as a listing of entities promoting SE Idaho.

August 14-15th, 2003
Two days of awareness events are planned.

Someday, everyone in rural communities will routinely use online collaborative tools to efficiently share all kinds of information, in addition to posting their own web pages, art, music, and photos, whenever they like. Come see the future, today, as Montpelier unveils one of the first real community collaboration sites in Idaho! ______________________________________________________________________

August 14         9a.m. – 1p.m.      Computer Camp (For all learners 10 years and older)

                                                       For Computer and Internet beginners who would
                                                       like to learn Internet basics and how to create
                                                       your own web pages. Plus, learn to use digital art
                                                       tablets, digital cameras, photo manipulation, and
                                                       digital music!   Drop-in’s Welcome!

                          2pm-5pm              Creating Community Web Pages                                                          
                                                        The new community web tools will be unveiled!                       
                                                        Come learn how to create your web pages, photos and
                                                        slideshows specifically for adding content of value to
                                                        the new community website.             
                                                        Learn how to use interactive tools for online
                                                        conferencing, submitting  news to the online
                                                        community newsletter, and more!     Drop-in’s Welcome!

   7p.m.-8p.m.             Montpelier’s Best Web Features will be showcased along with a review of the best local Ecommerce successes! An update on the continuing innovations and community events will be shared along with plans for future funding. Be inspired to become a part of your community’s future!          

    8p.m.-9p.m             Emarketing Tips – Hear Malcom Dell of www.giftmarketing.org share tips for marketings crafts and web-based businesses.


August 15         9a.m. – 1p.m.         Computer Camp (For all learners 10 years and older)

                                                        For Computer and Internet beginners who would
                                                        like to learn Internet basics and how to create
                                                        your own web pages. Plus, learn to use digital art
                                                        tablets, digital cameras, photo manipulation, and
                                                        digital music!   Drop-in’s Welcome!

                        2pm-5pm                Creating Community Web Pages                                                          
                                                        The new community web tools will be unveiled!                       
                                                        Come learn how to create your web pages, photos and
                                                        slideshows specifically for adding content of value to
                                                        the new community website.             
                                                        Learn how to use interactive tools for online
                                                        conferencing, submitting  news to the online
                                                        community newsletter, and more!     Drop-in’s Welcome!

                        7pm-9pm               Clover Creek Mall Ice Cream and Lemonade Social
                                                        All crafters and persons interested in selling on the
                                                        Internet are invited. Bring digital cameras and craft 
                                                        samples for photo fun.

Oct. 6th, 2003, Montpelier's success story is presented at a National Australian Conference and country-wide via a 12 community presentations tour. The conference whitepaper is at http://lone-eagles.com/wings.htm with the full trip report at http://lone-eagles.com/sparks.htm

Nov. 6th - One Hundred Bear Lake Educators Attend Full Day Workshop!

Direct Communications has received $135,000 for a new technology center which will have ten new computers with high speed Internet. ISU will be helping develop local workshops and projects in cooperation with the Bear Lake School District and Bear Lake County communities.

November 17th, 2003 The NEW shorter, step-by-step online course
"A Beginner's Guide to Profiting from the Internet" is now online at http://lone-eagles.com/ecom.htm  The new Essential Internet Skills course is online at http://lone-eagles.com/essential-skills.htm though it will continue to grow.

For continued learning consider the advanced course “Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies” which includes creating an online resume and a special certificate of completion.  It is supported by a 211-page handbook with extensive resources including rural community leadership resources, K-12 integration, a local train-the-trainer model, rural community grant templates and grant-writing resources, and more.  The new updated version will be available January 2004.  For more information on the advanced course and the printed handbook go to http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce-registration.htm.  The printed handbook is also online at http://lone-eagles.com/eguide.htm.

November 19-21 - Rural Ecommerce Successes in Idaho
Montpelier is featured at the Idaho Rural Partnership Summit and the Connect Idaho Conference along with announcing an ongoing collection of Idahoan Ecommerce Success Stories funded by the USDA through the Rural Development Council of Idaho.
Email: frank@lone-eagles.com

The conference handout showcases the best innovations from two years of the Montpelier Project! http://lone-eagles.com/connect-idaho.htm

See the Montpelier, Idaho, successes slideshow at http://frankodasz.fotopic.net
Create your own free slideshows at http://fotopic.net

Montpelier Vision Articles:

The Idaho Ecommerce Homesteaders’ Cooperative -
"Doing for Ourselves, Together"
An Education and Economic Development Partnership

An ambitious community awareness program for those with the pioneering spirit to determine their own destinies.

 What's the Best a Rural Community Can Do for Itself? -

If we all had Internet access tomorrow, and online access to the best online training resources, what countries, cultures, and individuals do you think would demonstrate the greatest tenacity for self-directed learning to truly empower themselves???  Are you ready?

Here's the flyer for the online course "Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies"

Announcing a new $39 online course designed for rural learners specifically as a first online learning experience - "Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies." This unique online experience is intended to help rural citizens get comfortable with learning online and developing self-directed learning skills. The course includes a hands-on overview of the best Ecommerce strategies, training resources, and success stories.

During this non-credit course participants will create an online resume as a component of an Internet skills self-assessment and have the option of acquiring additional essential Internet skills for Ecommerce and Telework. Those completing the class will receive a certificate of completion and the opportunity to become a paid online mentor assisting others through the lessons.

The lessons for the online course are included in a 200 page printed resource manual available for $20, also online at http://lone-eagles.com/eguide.htm    The class lessons are online at  http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce.htm   Registration information is at  http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce-registration.htm    Other extensive resources created by Lone Eagle Consulting for building learning communities, including graduate online courses for educators are at http://lone-eagles.com and are shared without restriction as our commitment to lending our wings to others.

This online course represents the best lessons learned from 15 years experience teaching rural educators and rural citizens online - to determine the highest possible benefits of online learning, Internet applications, and community networking. This course is suitable for all learners with a 7th grade reading level.

Raising the flag on what *can* be done!

For more resources and stories see:

Community Internet Empowerment Resources for Rural Communities

Community Internet Empowerment Resources for Indigenous Peoples

Articles and Grant-templates from Lone Eagle Consulting

All else is at, of course, http://lone-eagles.com/