Weekend Roundup: Colbert Visits Vicco

Minnesota broadband project shows results with adoption • Increase in farmland prices may be evening out • NPR looks at rural voters in North Carolina (and raccoons in Tennessee)

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Comedian news commentator Stephen Colbert visits Vicco, Kentucky, to explore the small town’s fairness ordinance, which bars the city from discriminating against residents on the basis of sexual orientation. The seven-minute report features Vicco residents and Johnny Cummings, the openly gay mayor of the town of a few hundred in the Eastern Kentucky coalfields. The “report” is full of rural stereotypes. In this case, the intent is to use these caricatures to contrast the reality of the small town that got national headlines for its fairness ordinance. See if you think the satire succeeded.

Minnesota Broadband Project. Our series of reports on broadband in rural America has prompted a response from the good folks at the Blandin Foundation. While the gap between urban and rural in broadband adoption is widening nationwide, a Blandin project in Minnesota has helped improve their broadband adoption rates for targeted rural communities.

Bernadine Joselyn has a post on the blog “Blandin on Broadband,” a place we regularly check for news about technology and rural America. 

The Minnesota Intelligent Rural Communities Program worked intensively with 11 communities over the course of years to design broadband adoption strategies.  

The Blandin project saw better adoption rates in the places where rural communities got involved in figuring out how to use broadband.

Blandin’s findings reinforce the conclusions of researchers Brian Whitacre, Roberto Gallardo and Sharon Strover, who are writing our broadband series. Most programs designed to improve broadband in rural areas are about running wires. The researchers say we need to look at investing more in efforts that will get rural households connecting to those wires and using them. That’s when the big changes occur.

We hope to have more in the Daily Yonder on the Blandin Foundation’s broadband project. Until then, the foundation has a variety of reports and posts describing their work. It’s worth a look. And there are number of tools for rural leaders beyond Minnesota to use in developing their own broadband strategies.

Farmland Prices Stabilize. The rise in the price farmland shows signs of tapering off. A report from the Federal Reserve Bank says farmland prices in the Midwest were relatively flat for the second quarter of 2013. For the year (July 1, 2012 to July 1, 2013) there’s still a big jump in the price of farmland. But the flat prices in the second quarter of this year show the  boom may be letting up. The report says uncertainty about the future price of grain may be the cause.

Rural Voters in North Carolina. NPR reports on concerns in North Carolinians that changes in that state’s voting laws will create a special hardship for rural voters. 

(To balance the serious-to-silly quotient in its rural coverage, NPR also has a story on a Tennessee man who dances with raccoons.) 

 

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