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ENEWS: On the Regional Divide, Gender Equity, and Local ISPs

Date Published: 01/26/2018

Author: Dane Smith

The Rural-Urban Divide and MinnPost

Growth & Justice has been sharing information and ideas with MinnPost editors and reporters on many of the public policy issues swirling around regionalism, Greater Minnesota economic development and our state’s so-called metro-rural divide. At a lively discussion of that topic at a MinnPost Social this week, G&J President Jane Leonard spoke briefly on the imperative of high-speed internet access to rural areas. Reporters Gregg Aamot, Greta Kaul, Ibrahim Hirsi and Brianna Bierschbach and others have been producing high-quality journalism about the disparities and other dynamics of rural-metro economics and culture, and many of those articles can be accessed on MinnPost’s Economics section. Commentary from G&J staff and policy fellows also often appears in the Community Voices section, including a recent article by Policy Fellow Tom Legg, revealing how local folks in Aitkin County work across their political differences to help distressed families. Watch for more on MinnPost in coming months related to our One Minnesota Rural Equity Project.

A Policy Blueprint for Gender Equity

Stubborn disparities in the economic and social condition of women have always been a concern for Growth & Justice and we’ve frequently partnered with groups such as the Office on the Economic Status of Women to seek policies that foster both gender and racial equity. We criticized the Legislature’s defunding of that office last year, which was described in a Lori Sturdevant column. Last week, G&J Senior Fellow Dane Smith was honored to be invited to an inspirational event for men who support the work of the Women's Foundation of Minnesota. This powerful organization provides an outstanding practical framework of public policies, business practices and individual behaviors that build toward true gender equity in our state. The Women’s Foundation has recently been partnering and finding common ground with Voices for Racial Justice, another Growth & Justice ally. Check out the 20 specific recommendations for policy change in the WFMN’s Blueprint for Action for further details.

Locals Often Beat Big Telecom on Broadband

A new study from Harvard University finds that local governments and community co-ops often provide more affordable high-speed internet service than big corporate telecommunication companies. From an analysis of the study on the Motherboard website: “A lack of competition in countless US broadband markets consistently contributes to not only high prices and slower speeds, but some of the worst customer service ratings in any industry in America. This lack of competition is another reason why ISPs (internet service providers) can get away with implementing punitive and arbitrary usage caps and overage fees. Harvard’s latest study found that community-owned broadband networks are not only consistently cheaper than traditional private networks, but pricing for broadband service also tends to be notably more transparent, more consistent, and less confusing.” According to a recently updated map put out by the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, more than 750 towns and cities in the United States now have some variety of community-owned broadband network.

Quote of the Week

“I am a feminist. I’ve been a female for a long time now. It’d be stupid not to be on my own side.” Maya Angelou, poet, memoirist, civil rights activist and 2011 Presidential Medal of Freedom winner.

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