Rural Community Ecommerce and Telework Preparedness
It and They Will Come?
There is extensive and rapidly growing evidence that Internet infrastructure alone will not transform communities. To justify the investment in Internet infrastructure, measurement methods for defining and evaluating success are fundamentally necessary. There is an urgent need for defining the social engineering methodologies required to create measurably effective communities engaged in collaborative networking.
This process begins with imparting a realistic vision for participation to citizens and organizations regarding their specific roles, ongoing activities, and highest value applications. Specific short-term action agendas are required to validate in the minds of citizens the potential of Internet infrastructure for building collaborative capacity in support of the social and economic sustainability of the community.
The Big Picture
Rising from tragedy, the recent "War on Terrorism" has created a new readiness for civic engagement in
An Inevitable Reality for
Communities Hoping to be Competitive
As broadband becomes increasingly commonplace, communities are beginning to compete on the demonstrated talents of an inspired and motivated citizenry. Visible demonstrations of advanced telecommunications and technology applications are a selling point for communities seeking to showcase their ability to learn, innovate, and grow their cooperative vision.
The vigor of our communities, and in fact our nation, will depend on creating motivated lifelong learners, proactive citizens who are value-driven, innovative entrepreneurs, skilled collaborators, and citizens who are both consumers and producers - both learners and teachers, all the time.
Missing Success Stories
Despite over ten years of experimental community networking and community technology center projects, there is a conspicuous lack of sustained success stories, on real data on the benefits, particularly from rural communities who already have broadband. Why? – Perhaps too few have yet taken ownership of identifying the need for the new forms of community learning necessary to create the new behaviors which will unlock the power of broadband. The hard truth is that this is everyone’s responsibility - from the educators, to their administrators, to the parents, to the community organizations, to the local businesses, local government agencies, and even the faith-based organizations.
This Proposal will Create Replicable Success Stories
Rural community success stories need to be created by defining in concrete terms the Ten First Steps a community can take - as a community - to demonstrate the real benefits of applying specific new skills and behaviors as an essential component of the deployment of advanced telecommunications and technologies. This proposal will create three indisputably replicable community success stories. This project will produce a replicable action plan any motivated community can immediately put to use as a road map regardless of external funding.
Core Challenges Seeking an Elegantly Simple Solution
project is based on the core challenge for rural communities to make the
potential of Information Technology (I.T.) applications visibly real. I.E. What are the potential benefits, who can help us demonstrate
these benefits in a simple way, and how we can learn to realize these benefits
for ourselves in the long term?
This project will demonstrate in concrete measurable ways;
1. An easy way to get started selling items via Internet using online auctions
2. An easy way to learn specific skills with minimal time and effort
An easy way to identify locally available expertise for personal
mentoring, and an easy
way to share your expertise with others in return
An easy way to identify what new skills can help you establish an online
resume/portfolio, review many new potential work opportunities, and create a new
business and/or get your business on the web.
An easy way for a community to share new knowledge, to gather success
resources from elsewhere to efficiently share in an ongoing manner to facilitate local
6. An easy way to promote ongoing I.T. learning for community sustainability
An easy way to continually grow awareness for successively more advanced
applications based on real benefits for real people.
8. An easy way to promote the community as a whole.
9. Finally, an easy way to self-assess how I.T applications are making a real difference.
If a community is already motivated to take action on its own behalf, all they need is an inclusive plan of action to mobilize their resident talent. If a community is not motivated, they need to hold awareness-raising events focusing on how other communities have successfully addressed the same challenges. This proposal provides a unique learning pathway, using extensive existing training materials. An ongoing stream of new resources and community success stories will be provided through an online newsletter creating a community of communities for the three formally participating communities, but also to allow all interested communities the option to partner informally with this first-of-a-kind project in order to benefit from everyone’s innovations and experience.
Learning From - and Sharing Rural Ecommerce Success Stories
Among the many vacated storefronts in
Missing are the visible benchmarks for success necessary to make the potential benefits visibly real at the most basic level initially, and then presented progressively as increasingly advanced applications as their vision grows. It is this growth process which creates enlightened expectations based on new knowledge that needs to be aggressively facilitated in rural communities.
Needed is the clarity of common sense to simplify the highest value first steps - available at the lowest cost – by which communities can begin to understand their true potential deploying advanced telecommunications applications.
Working Together – We’ll All Have Access to All Our Knowledge
Through this Ten First Steps project all three communities will simultaneously implement the following Ten First Steps while sharing their successes via three local online newsletters and multiple local online discussions throughout the project. Other communities will be able to follow the actions of all three communities via these local newsletters.
Immediate Significant Impacts of This Project
The most significant impact from ten
years of directing the Big Sky Telegraph project was not the impact on the
thousands of persons who participated directly in the network. The greatest
impact was on the tens of thousands from other communities who began to ask “If
they can do it in rural
The global impact of the stories of
Big Sky Telegraph’s grassroots champions, volunteer circuit riders, and
innovative educators is still being felt long after the project’s formal end.
College classrooms in
The power of success stories is that others are inspired to take action based on a proven pathway to success. This Ten First Steps project will create the three rural success stories -based on real data - as a catalyst for thousands of rural communities. One weakness of many past success stories is they were based on fuzzy generalities, not hard data. One defining feature of this proposal is the success stories from this project will be supported with robust data based on measurable outcomes!
Immediate Dissemination Strategy
As an immediate dissemination strategy, the Ten First Steps program and curriculum will be available online for replication by communities who can self-identify their readiness. These additional communities will be supported as partners via a subscription online newsletter designed to become a sustainable resource after the project’s completion. This newsletter will serve the mission to empower all rural communities by providing a serious collection point for ongoing success stories, community curriculum, key resources, and specific inclusion strategies designed for rural communities.
Ten First Steps – Taking Action:
This uniquely aggressive project builds on the two decades of direct grassroots innovation by Frank Odasz (Big Sky Telegraph and Lone Eagle Consulting) and demonstrates a replicable model for creating rural community technology centers that are uniquely effective, eminently measurable in producing the desired training outcomes, and result in a functional community collaborative network producing definite social and economic value. The successful application of the collaborative benefits of the Internet will be validated by the authenticity of widespread community participation and hard data in the applied use of advanced telecommunications capabilities.
One key revelation after over ten years of monitoring hundreds of community technology centers and community networking projects is that an outcomes-based learning model for rural communities is absolutely necessary. Measurements are the key to success. Each of the following “Ten First Steps” is therefore operationally defined as a community assessment tool providing measurements of success such that each community can accurately self-assess their progress at any time.
Simple to Understand and Cost-effective to Implement
Open Source software applications and the lowest-cost options will be coupled with a broadly inclusive strategy to engage as many citizens and community organizations as possible by leveraging social recognition for contributions to the community as an incentive for participation. The greatest impact for the lowest cost in an easy-to-understand successive stepped format - producing hard data every step of the way - makes this project the first of its kind.
Beginning with a fast-track training center initiative producing specific skills for a specific number of citizens, functional community collaborative practices will be initiated delivering clearly recognized benefits. Real success will be measured by the authenticity of the ongoing active participation of the community.
This program can be conducted in ten straight-forward steps leveraging local resources and talent, to deliver measurable outcomes within a timeline, supported by the online mentoring expertise and extensive existing training curriculum of Lone Eagle Consulting. This curriculum reflects 15 years experience designing self-directed online learning for rural, indigenous learners, and includes two online graduate courses for educators, and a non-credit Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies online course. (See Appendice B. Resume for Frank Odasz, formerly director of Big Sky Telegraph).
Real Skills – Real For-profit Services
An ideal community technology center would teach citizens the skills for ongoing online collaboration to help them understand the reciprocal benefits of sharing new knowledge with others. A functional community network will be created where ongoing collaboration and sharing takes place as citizens learn to truly understand how to use the Internet to their own best advantage.
While face-to-face is the easiest way
to learn from others, and is preferred in the
beginning, the convenience of online interaction, particularly after a relationship has
been established, makes the ability to learn online, as well as the ability to teach
online, highly desirable skills. Training in Internet self-directed learning skills, as well
as online community mentoring, pointedly builds the collaborative skills required for
Initially, the ten essential skills for learning to benefit from the Internet will be made available as 30-minute training sessions which can be both presented for self-directed learning in a supervised lab environment, or mentored directly by another citizen from the community. Those initially just dropping off products for sale will soon informally become hands-on users mentoring others using the public resource of the computer lab.
The incentive of additional skills training to develop for-profit services will be presented for participation in this unique community program in partnership with the Center. Citizens will offer Kinkos-type services including digital photography applications, digital art, web authoring, music recording, family multimedia scrapbooks and much more. As awareness grows for the blizzard of amazing products one can create with computers these days, the lower-tiers of applications will be eagerly picked up by anyone interested, along with the appreciation for the skills required to deliver the higher tiers of for-profit services. Both levels will be continually evolving based on new knowledge of new technologies.
The Center’s economic sustainability comes directly through a commission on online auction sales, and as additional skills are taught to patrons, additional new revenue generating services are created in this unique Kinkos community cooperative model. Office cubicles will be available to serve as an Ecommerce incubator providing workspace for the needs of entrepreneurs and new businesses for a collaborative work environment facilitating experts and novices working together. An online course “Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies” is already available as a means for citizens to readily see what’s already working for others like them.
Paid Incentives to Train Others Online
The online mentoring services of citizens from the participating communities will be specifically promoted to other communities as a for-profit instructional entrepreneurship service. Note that the Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies is designed specifically in a Train-the-trainers format with paid incentives for those who complete the class and receive the certificate to formally train others who register for the class.
Three pioneering rural communities already enabled with the availability of high speed wireless Internet have self-identified their need for a focused community learning program to generate the new knowledge and skills required to deploy advanced telecommunications applications – to create a replicable model for all rural communities.
Three Chambers of Commerce from
Working together via Internet, all three communities will
simultaneously create a unique Ecommerce and
Objectives include entry-level Ecommerce activities, a community Emall, demonstrated widespread use of collaborative tools, fast-track skills training, a peer mentoring program documenting teleworker skills via public web portfolios, and multiple events to generate web content and online collaboration. Viable for-profit services associated with new skills will be identified along with Ecommerce options for existing and potential new businesses. Authenticity of the success of this project will be assessed by the level of participation by citizens as defined by multiple specific measurable outcomes.
These three model communities will demonstrate a sustainable learning method for reinventing themselves with forward-looking visions for the continually advancing telecommunications applications.
Collaborative E-marketing of the skills of local citizens, local businesses, and the community as a whole will complete the one-year Ten First Steps program involving the cycle of awareness, ability (skills), applications (functional), and assessment (hard data.) Years two and three will repeat this cycle based on assessments of the previous year to begin with creating awareness for the next tier of advanced applications. Their documented journey will inspire other communities to follow.
The most powerful aspect of this first-of-its kind project is that the Ten First Steps program and all curriculum materials will be immediately available to all communities online. Each community will regularly document their progress via public web pages and newsletters, and a national project newsletter will summarize all progress as well as provide new resources and innovations gathered from global sources.
The Clarity of Common Sense
The common view of rural communities, as quoted from the Beaverhead county commissioner’s office is “We’ve yet to see a rural community benefit significantly from use of the Internet.” There’s an important missing link here between the glowing promises of the telecommunications companies and the government that broadband is essential and indisputably beneficial, and the perception of rural citizens based on their very practical experience that there are no proven benefits.
A Tale of Three Cities
This project will bring together three rural communities who are truly well out there on the Ecommerce Frontier. Each has high speed wireless already available. Each has a unique history of pioneering innovation and each has self-assessed their need for an aggressive community learning initiative. A key common thread is they all have existing relationships with Lone Eagle Consulting and were selected based on their demonstrated spirit and ability to innovate.
Dillon, Montana has had high speed wireless for two years and has a history of ten years of Internet innovations starting with the Big Sky Telegraph project, one of the very first rural connectivity projects connecting over 100 one-room schools statewide from 1988-1998. Followed by the Dillon-Net project, a TOP project funded in 1997 to create a community technology center which served as a national model from 1997-2002. Dillon’s leaders now are looking for specific strategies to understand how to take the next big step to unlock the economic and social value that Internet collaboration holds.
(See Appendix G “Dillon’s Next Chapter”)
(See Appendix H “McGrath – The First Sustainable Village ISP in
The Competitive Dynamic
Rural communities have a long history of good-natured competition with one another. This project will leverage this history to everyone’s advantage. Throughout the project, each community will have online access to the measures of progress of the other communities. Often what a community won’t do for itself, it WILL do in a spirit of competition. Awards will be given annually for the communities with the highest achievements and measurable outcomes evaluated by this project.
Taking the First Step
The Ten First Steps program
begins with the first step being the creation of a uniquely sustainable model
for a community technology center to be centrally located in an
existing vacated storefront – which are all too common on main streets
The biggest single problem facing rural communities learning to benefit from Internet access is that citizens don’t know what the Internet offers them, or how they will learn, and as a result are largely ignoring their opportunities. The first step is to create a place where citizens can go which will create interest and serve as the base for the project’s community outreach activities.
Ecommerce and Telework
Centers (EAT Centers)
The first challenge for the EAT Center is to identify the most effective means for directly engaging those not likely to volunteer their time to learn computers at a community technology center. An Ecommerce and
Online auction businesses, like Ebay, are the biggest Ecommerce success stories, having not only survived the tech stocks bust, but continually demonstrating rapid growth internationally.
Ebay, with over 50 million users, exchanging over 40 million in goods daily, has given over 150,000 people the opportunity to become self-employed fulltime buying and selling via Ebay. Even without a product to sell, anyone can quickly learn how to research how most people on Ebay have learned to identify the going rates for products selling on one part of Ebay, and then to identify sources for purchasing these same products at lower prices elsewhere. With minimum capital required to get started, tens of thousands of people have learned to be successful buying and selling online.
Cyber-cafes have also proven to be a successful model – replicated thousands of times worldwide, and with the optional addition of a coffee vendor, the EAT Café is ready for business.
Utilizing vacant storefronts on the main street, the Ecommerce and Telework Center is a combination Community Technology Center, Ecommerce/Fulfillment center, and Kinko’s-style community cooperative service center where free services are offered to take digital photos of products for sale, (Ex. Quilts, crafts, antiques, etc.) and then store them for shipment for a defined period while attempts are made to sell them.
This unique storefront E-business would display all posted salable items for others to see what’s being auctioned online. Shelves of products will be open for bidding, as well. Public records would be highly visible for what has sold and at what price.
As word gets around the community that cash-in-hand for contributors really works, more and more citizens out of curiosity will begin to show increased interest in what does sell and will begin to understand the process of determining new markets for online selling.
The Center service will provide free sit-down sessions to help newcomers get comfortable with how to both research markets for their goods as well as how to post their items themselves. Six Internet-connected computers will be immediately available to open the door for one of the biggest first steps of all, self-initiated hands-on computer exploration and learning.
1. Quick-Cash Auction Services to Raise Awareness Quickly
Drop off an item for sale via online auctions on a commission basis with
invitation to be shown how this is done and how you can learn to easily do it yourself.
2. Fast-track Training services to Rapidly Generate Local Skills
Short 30-minute trainings will deliver real skills quickly - with emphasis on creating
for-profit products and services. Extensive existing Ecommerce Curriculum has
already been created via a partnership between
Lone Eagle Consulting. (See Appendice C: Rural Ecommerce and Telework
Ten 30-Minute Mastery Learning Skill Units
1. Browsing Basics (Example http://lone-eagles.com/browse.htm)
2. Searching Basics (Example http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce-search.htm)
3. Email Basics (Example http://lone-eagles.com/ecommerce-email.htm)
4. Listserv Basics
for Group Collaboration
5. Web-authoring Basics (Ex. http://lone-eagles.com/netscape.htm)
6. Digital Photography and Photo-manipulation Basics
7. Digital Art Tablet Basics
8. Multimedia Basics (Online sound, video, animations)
9. Downloading and Installing Software Basics
10. Ebay Basics (Entry Level Ecommerce Basics)
3. An Ecommerce Web Mall and Support for Emerging New Businesses
A web mall will be created and will provide existing and emerging new businesses the opportunity to get on the web quickly using web templates and/or low-cost Ecommerce store-builder services. Five basic demonstration Ecommerce web sites will be created to showcase the benefits of a local Emall with the intension to continually build local content until the majority of the community is reflected in the online content in some way. With the addition of collaborative software, the demonstrated online collaborative use by the community, a functional community network is the end result.
The Ten First Steps for Community Ecommerce and
1. Create the Ecommerce and Telework (EAT) Center Storefront
Goal: To create a centrally located storefront for the EAT Center to attract a wide variety of patrons who wish to learn new skills to help them raise their income levels and maintain their preferred lifestyles. The center will serve as an outreach and training hub with one fulltime equivalent champion for the first year. Half time funding is planned for years two and three with revenues from sales and services building eventual sustainability.
Strategy: Using the first incentive of ready-cash from online auction sales from items brought to the center as the initial attraction, additional incentives for participation will be the friendly offer of free training, Internet and computer access, and specialized training workshop events to create for-profit services. Local media will be used to keep the center’s many activities in the minds of the community. Ebay-Day events will be promoted as fundraising activities for local organizations.
Outcomes: The number of participants and participant hours utilizing the center, the number of items sold, the total resulting new income, the number of media exposure events, and the number of Ebay-Day fundraisers will be graphically displayed at the Center and updated regularly.
2. Hold a Major Presentation Event to Announce the Purpose and Goals of the Center and Project
Goal: To introduce the services, staff, volunteers, and community opportunities presented by the center with emphasis on the opportunity for additional funding if the community rallies to demonstrate widespread active use of the center. This presentation will be videotaped to allow for maximum dissemination.
Strategy: Create a multimedia presentation showcasing successes of other communities and individuals specifically related to the intended outcomes of the project in the context of “learning what’s working for others like you.” Articulate the community mission for the project as related to the goals of the Ten First Steps for generating new skills, relationships, collaboration, content, Ebusinesses, and visions for the future uses of communications technology.
Outcomes: The presentation will be video-taped so everyone interested will have a chance to see it, including other communities. The ideal outcomes are unbridled enthusiasm for what a community can do for itself as well as widespread participation in the center and the
many following activities to be specifically recorded as measurable outcomes. An online public calendar will serve as the basis for local organizations planning their own awareness-raising events.
an Emall as the Local Web Community Content Resource
for Ebusinesses and Collaboration
Goal: To demonstrate the benefits of posting local content on the web to draw business to the Emall as well as to better share information and new learning services throughout the community.
To facilitate maximum community inclusion from the very beginning of the project through local organizational incentives of assistance creating a web presence with initial emphasis on listing existing business web sites, bringing more businesses online, followed by community content creation and collaboration activities.
Strategy: A public graphical display on the Emall and at the Center will celebrate all sponsoring organizations and businesses to make it explicit that participation will be rewarded with recognition. All local businesses will be invited to co-sponsor these content and collaboration creation events in return for technical assistance creating Ecommerce web pages and/or other content contributions to the community Emall.
Many model low-cost events, are described in The Community Bootstrap (See Appendix G: The Community Bootstrap Academy)
Specific events will be held for business and community leadership with information packets containing an executive overview on their advantages for direct participation.
Special integrated presentations for K-12, parents, and economic developers will be held. An emphasis will be on youth involvement and youth trainees will be specifically sought out.
Web-raising content creation events will be held designed specifically to generate web-content to draw potential customers to the Emall web site. Such content would include all local and regional businesses with web sites, volunteer mentors listed by topic, relevant success stories, Ecommerce models, and training resources. Incentives include free workshops on creating web pages for local community based organizations, businesses, families and individuals.
Outcomes: Records will
be kept for the number of events held, the number of participants, the number
of sponsoring organizations and businesses, and feedback from participants.
Documentation will include emphasis on new relationships, initiatives, and new
web content created and the range of organizations, businesses, families, and
individuals involved in creating and maintaining them.
Goal: Conduct a skills assessment to create an online Mentorship Roster to list local talent alphabetically by topic and by name to meet the need for coordination ofmatching local expertise, with local learning needs – i.e. the haves with the have-nots. (Example Mentorship Roster; AskA+ Locator Appendix J.)
Strategy: A survey will collect resident skills, recording who is willing to share them, as well as skill needs and who needs mentoring assistance. In rural communities, those with technical skills are often shunned instead of celebrated. A social recognition strategy is needed to provide external recognition for the social value of their skills. Local social recognition will grow as people learn to appreciate that learning new technology skills is easier in a social setting. This project provides a structure to assess and record collaborative successes – gathering and sharing information and encouraging new learning through peer mentorship.
Outcomes: Records will be kept for the number of new mentors and new skills generated by all project participants and multiple ongoing training initiatives.
5. Hold a Multimedia Fair for Local Champions to Demonstrate New Technologies and Applications and to Create a Series of Locally Driven Workshops.
Goal: To demonstrate the benefits of new technology and advanced telecommunications applications as a model process. Whereby, the citizens can conduct training workshops, advertise their expertise, and related services and whereby communities can continually stay current on continually advancing applications.
Strategy: Drawing heavily on local volunteer talent, as well as established experts, demonstrations of new technologies and applications will be conducted covering the full range of things that can be done with a computer and Internet – given friendly and knowledgeable assistance. This will create new relationships between those with skills and those with learning needs. Citizens will volunteer their presentations as a way of creating awareness for their new for-profit services.
A workshop series utilizing local talent will be created. These workshops will require a small fee for attendance and will include such topics as multimedia family scrapbooks, digital restoration of damaged photographs, a showcase of local and regional Ecommerce success stories and strategies, Ecommerce tools for Ecommerce web sites, collaborative emarketing solutions, and so on.
Outcomes: Records will be kept on the number of persons participating in the presentations, the number of new relationships resulting and the number of new technologies and specific advanced telecommunications applications demonstrated. Records will be kept for the number of advanced workshops held using local talent and the number of participants. Link lists will point to examples of advanced community applications and will provide a summary of ongoing means for seeing the latest advanced applications.
6. Create a Local Online Newsletter as an Incentive for Collaboration
Goal: As a conduit for citizen engagement, online collaboration, and storytelling of what’s working - each step of the way – a collaborative online newsletter will be created and regularly updated throughout the project.
Strategy: Collaborative incentives will be created for all citizens willing to regularly share their expertise. Effective use of free collaborative tools such as listservs with web-based archives will be accessible via the newsletter and Emall, including use of “blogs” a new form of self-publishing allowing anyone interested the equivalent of an online newspaper column – with a link included in the newsletter as their means of ongoing contribution. (http://crimsonblog.com)
This newsletter will be an
incentive for citizens to regularly get online to see what’s
going on locally with the majority of the content being provided by locals. The
newsletter will showcase the Center’s many activities and frequent workshops held
by locals. All three communities will be able to gauge their progress against that
of the other communities thus facilitating the rapid sharing of new ideas and resources. Example http://deltadiscovery.com from
Outcomes: The newsletter serves as an ongoing evaluation mechanism for the community to self-assess its own progress throughout the project’s timeline as well as allowing the external evaluator, and the whole world, the ability to monitor the project’s progress. The number of contributors will be recorded along with the frequency of their contributions.
Create Teleworker Portfolios as an Incentive to
Goal: Create incentives for sustained peer mentoring by offering advanced Teleworker training to include creation of an electronic portfolio resume documenting successful online mentoring and collaboration. Viable for-profit online services will be identified and wherever possible implemented as a real business promoted through this project.
Strategy: Citizens engaged in mentoring others will enjoy the incentive of the development of an online portfolio detailing their successful online training and collaboration skills. Incentives will include specialized telework skills training and telework jobs awareness reserved for mentors only – i.e. citizens who have agreed to share what they have and will learn.
Teleworker trainee’s mentoring activities will be an explicit method for creating local awareness for their developing for-profit services based on the provided teleworker training.
As their skills and confidence develop through use of the existing “Rural Ecommerce and Telework Strategies” online course - this “ideal” center will not only assist citizens in developing employability and Ecommerce skills, but would assist those who are ready to create a real business.
Outcomes: Records will be kept on the portfolios for each Teleworker trainee, including the specific training received, the number of mentees, specific skills taught, and specific new for-profits services developed. New social relationships will provide an ongoing means for knowledge sharing and measurements for this will be publicly recorded.
8. Create an Ebusiness Incubator at the EAT Center
Goal: Establish an Ecommerce-marketing workgroup “
Strategy: Create an initial Ecommerce-marketing “
Outcomes: The number of participants in the Emarketing group will be recorded as well as the specific level of online and offline interaction. The number of additional learning circles created and their length of duration will be recorded along with their listserv usage levels and number of participants.
9. E-market the Community and Its New Ecommerce Businesses
Goal: To clearly portray the readiness of the community as connected, collaborative, and current by effectively marketing the talents, businesses, and best features of the community.
Strategy: Reassessing its readiness, the community will move
to the next level for marketing its new services and Ebusinesses
based on enlightened expectations. A
sample 3-inch CD created to give to tourists by the Chamber of Commerce in
Outcomes: An identifiable community marketing component of the Emall and EAT Center both online and offline. A formal mission statement and strategic plan will be created by a community steering committee as part of their commitment to this project.
10. Hold a Celebration Showcasing Achievements
Goal: To hold an event to formally recognize those who contributed to the successful sharing of new knowledge and measurable outcomes. Realizing there will be lessons learned, a reassessment will clarify the next steps for this project based on the new awareness of options, new relationships, and new enthusiasm created during the initial execution of these Ten First Steps.
Strategy: To reinforce the social incentives for continued contributions, innovation, new content, new skills, new businesses and enlightened expectations for what’s now seen as viable next steps.
Outcomes: The total sum of the number of measured outcomes throughout the first 18 months of this project will be presented as hard data in graphical format online and at the EAT Center. This event will be held again at the end of the project.
An external evaluator will oversee the collection and validation of all data. The evaluator will visit all communities three times during the project. The first visit will be at the beginning of the project to make sure the evaluation tools are in place for the proper gathering of data. The second visit will be during the ninth month to make any adjustments that might be necessary and the third visit will be at the end of the first eighteen months to attend the celebration and participate in the half-way point self-assessment. The external evaluator will serve as a participatory action researcher advising as well as evaluating. The external evaluator will monitor all data collection with additional survey instruments and anecdotal interviews along with the hard data specified in the measurable outcomes for all ten steps.
Mr. Steve Cisler has agreed to be the external evaluator for this
project. He currently is a librarian and
telecommunications consultant who has been involved with community networks
since 1986. In the 1990s, while at Apple
Computer, Inc., he made grants to libraries and communities that were building
Free Nets and other community networks.
He convened two community networking conferences, Ties That Bind, in
1994 and 1995 that brought together networkers from
This project presents the Ten First Steps as a simplified low-cost ongoing program community assessment of resident talent and skills, current ecommerce businesses, the level of internet awareness (need for awareness events), and the level of collaboration for ongoing sharing of new knowledge and learning to create new businesses and bring existing business online. The evaluative measurements are summarized below.
Step 1 – Create an Ecommerce and
Step 2 – Hold a Major Presentation Event to
Announce the Purpose and Goals of the Center and Project. A public presentation at each Center will be
held to announce its opening within the first 90-day period of the grant. The
presentation will be video-taped to assure the majority of citizens
view it and will be offered to other communities to help raise their awareness.
Step 3. – Launch an E-mall as the Local Web Community Content Resource for E-businesses and Collaboration. An E-mall at each Center will be established within the first six months of the grant and will contain both community products and services. The mentoring list, a local skills list, connections to other web sites, online training modules, and success stories will be included. The mall will list 100 percent of local businesses and will encourage development of a web page for 80+ percent of local businesses.
Step. 4 – Hold a
Step 5 – Hold a Multimedia Fair for Local Champions to Demonstrate New Technologies and Applications and to Create a Series of Locally-Driven Workshops. Within one month after each Center opens a multimedia fair will be held to engage resident talents. Existing local experts will demonstrate digital photography, photographic restoration, basic web page design, online auction skills, tips for selling on the web, and recording digital music. A schedule of workshops will be advertised inviting the public to participate in in-depth learning opportunities for specific skills.
Step 6 – Create a Local Online Newsletter as an Incentive for Collaboration. Each community will maintain a local online newsletter as an ongoing self-evaluation mechanism for the community to monitor its own progress throughout the project’s timeline. The other participating communities, as well as the external evaluator, and the whole world, will be able to also monitor each community’s progress – serving as an added incentive for community involvement.
Step 7. – Create Teleworker Portfolios as an
Step 8 – Create an E-business Incubator at the Center. At least five new businesses will be created at each E-business incubator with records kept on assistance given to additional businesses.
Step 9 – E-Market the Community and Its New Ecommerce Businesses. A marketing plan will be developed by each community. Each community will enlist the assistance of an outside business group, such as the Small Business Development group or other formal business planning group. Each community’s marketing plan will be shared with the other two communities.
Step 10. – Hold a Celebration Showcasing Achievements. A final “event” will take place two to three
weeks before the end of the first 18th month period. All three communities will share the
best-of-the-best lessons and outcomes from each of the steps by creating a
video (and webcast event) to be used to help other
communities get started replicating this program.
Maintaining Each Community’s Ongoing
in a Graphical Display on the Web and at the Center
It would be very powerful to have the top seven indicators of authentic community participation for each participating community viewable in a simple graphical display both on the web and at each center as an ongoing self-assessment weighed against the process of peer communities. The spirit of friendly competition between communities is already a cultural reality. Here are suggestions for the seven most important indicators of success for widespread citizen participation. Each community would decide for themselves which measures they will use to define their success
1. The number of participating citizens with Email capabilities
2. The number of participating citizens with searching skills
3. The number of participating citizens hosting simple resource web pages
4. The number of participating citizens volunteering as online mentors
5. The number of local Ecommerce web pages
6. The names and number of contributing businesses and community organizations
7. The number of community events and the names of the sponsoring organizations
Extensive Existing Resources and Proven Expertise - Feasibility (15%)
This project’s design is based on
direct grassroots implementation and decades of seeing what has and has not
worked in dozens of other projects. The
sheer volume of the community planning resources, community curriculum and existing
community grant template resources available to participating communities at
the beginning of this project is in itself noteworthy. The social recognition and attention to the
direct and immediate benefits to individuals as well as to their communities
make this project believable and exciting to potential participants. (See Appendix A - Qualifications of Frank
Odasz and Margaret Phelps and Appendixes B, C, and D--community profiles of
McGrath, Dillon, and
Summary - Timeline and Conclusion
Each community will engage in final planning during the first three months of the project to involve as many local citizens and organizations as possible. The Center will open three months after the grant begins. At the same time the center opens a major presentation event will be held to announce the opening. The E-mall will be established within the first six months of the grant. A multimedia skills fair will be held one month after the center opens and monthly workshops will be presented thereafter. The mentorship roster will be posted on the E-mall during this time and the three local online newsletters will be established. Local online newsletters will be updated by participating communities - monthly.
At the beginning of the second year, teleworker portfolios will be posted online containing the new for-profit services available within the communities. Emphasis will be to learn E-marketing techniques and work on an Ecommerce business plan. At the end of eighteen months a celebration will be held to showcase the achievements of the Centers and self-assess prior to the next 18 month cycle. The second eighteen-month period will be used to refine the services of the Center, build the profit and service Center, and plan for more advanced telecommunications applications. (See Appendix K for a chart showing timeline of activities.)
Distribution of Results
One of the more innovative aspects of this project is other rural communities interested in emulating this project will have direct online access to the project’s full materials including the Ten First Steps plan, the extensive Ecommerce curriculum, and the ongoing progress reports posted online as regular newsletters by the participating communities.
As an immediate dissemination strategy, the Ten First Steps program and curriculum will be available online for replication by communities who can self-identify their readiness. These additional communities will be supported as partners via a subscription online newsletter designed to become a sustainable resource after the project’s completion. Separate from the three local community newsletters, this newsletter will serve the mission to empower all rural communities by providing a serious collection point for ongoing success stories, community curriculum, key resources, and specific inclusion strategies designed for rural communities.
Throughout the project all participants will have free access to all resources at Lone Eagle Consulting’s web site. (See Appendix L for a partial listing.)
A Sustainable Online Newsletter and Resources Clearinghouse
To demonstrate the inherent value and necessity of sharing “what works” across all rural communities a subscription newsletter will be created providing updates on all three project communities, new success stories from other communities, new resources gathered from global sources, and literally a regular resource of the best-of-the-best in an easily accessible manner. The sustainability of this newsletter, and companion resources web site, will build on the already sustainable business of Lone Eagle Consulting (as a key anchor tenant) as a specific strategy to assure the sustained ongoing collection and celebration of successful rural innovations.