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Gnomes, Lou T Fisk, tricked out Computer Commuter, tiny church & a fancy Mercantile, LQP County is rocking by Ann Treacy
May 26, 2022, 3:15 pm
Filed under: Minnesota

Mary Magnuson and I got to check out the broadband happenings in Western Minnesota – in person. We learned about new grants in Madison and Appleton that will help everyone get fiber, we visited the inspiring Madison Mercantile and we said goodbye to one of our favorite broadband projects of all time – the LqP (Lac qui Parle) Computer Commuter.

Traveling to rural towns is something I have missed through the pandemic, so it was fun to go to one of my favorite areas. Through the Blandin Foundation, we’ve both done a lot of work here. And back in the day I did a lot of fun training with the County EDA (Economic Development Authority). This is the sort of area where in 2010, they got funding to create a tricked out mobile computer lab (aka former hotel shuttle bus). I have taught classes there, but I think its best use was Mary Quick driving around and folks dropping in to get one-to-one (or one-to-few) hands-on support using technology. She once told me her busiest time was after Christmas when everyone brought in the new iPads or smartphone Christmas presents from their kids.

Fast forward 10+ years, and we visited the Madison Mercantile. From what we could see one woman has given birth to a community center that is as innovative and will soon be as loved at the Computer Commuter. Kris Shelstad is that woman; I’m not saying she’s done it alone but I’m saying it wouldn’t happen without her. Sounds like she came back home after the death of her spouse. A time that might drain many of us, she has turned it around to a time where she is creating community or seeding the space for community to grow based on the needs of the people around her. Super inspiring!

But truth of the matter, Mary and I most went on the road for the Gnomes of Dawson. We visited the garden and as a super bonus, we spied some special gnomes upstairs in the library…

Also we saw Lou T Fisk and the 45th Parallel (the midday point between the Equator and the North Pole)…

Finally, we checked out the Tiny Church, which is in the Gnome Garden. It seats 6. It’s weird; it kind of feels like being in a church and kind of doesn’t, which I guess means it feels a little irreverent but I got over it.

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