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Rural North Dakota Community Blogs PDF Print E-mail
Written by Chet   
Sunday, 08 June 2008 09:45

ND Community BlogsBack in early April I had dinner with a group of people from rural North Dakota.  Someone at the table mentioned that I blog and so the conversation turned to blogging, generally.  Another person at the table said she wrote for the Bowdon Blog.  I asked for a URL, got a general description, and we talked about putting links to each other's blogs on our sites.  So I got back to a computer, later, looked for the Bowdon blog, couldn't find it, looked again a couple more times and then gave up.

Recently I did my standard North Dakota news google search and up pops a link to something called northdakota.communityblogs.us.  I checked it.  Over in the right column I saw a link to a ND horizons community, and one link was Bowdon, and -- Wa Lah!!! -- there it is.

So I took a look at the Bowdon Blog and it's a real eye opener for a "big city" guy like me.  (Side note:  Just so you know... I put "big city" in quotation marks because I don't think Bismarck (or Fargo, for that matter) is a big city at all.  "Big town" might be more appropriate.) The top story on the Bowdon Blog caught my eye.  It looks like Bowdon has one grocery store, and the store's operator recently passed away.  The community seems to be trying to figure out a way to keep the grocery store from closing.

With the state of the economy and the high price of fuel to consider, the community has come together to address the very basic issue of assuring that all community members can continue to afford to feed themselves. We have many elderly and other people on fixed incomes in the Bowdon-Chaseley-Heaton area who would find traveling 35 to 70 miles round trip to purchase groceries prohibitively expensive. The need of Ruth Reberg to sell the meat plant and grocery store following the untimely death of her husband Tim has proved to be a catalyst for the community to step up to the plate to ensure that Bowdon Locker and Grocery remains open to serve the community. 

Patti Patrie, president of BDCI, and Wayne Fuhrman, board member, presented the crowd with the steps the board has taken and the progress made since the impending closing came to light. So far, BDCI has assisted Ruth Reberg, the current owner, with marketing the business. In addition, the board has consulted Don Frye of Otter Tail and Pat Downs of NDAREC about possible ownership models and possible outside funding sources to help with the purchase and renovations of the business.  BDCI has also retained the services of Jim Lees of SBDC to formulate a business plan and attorney Steve Noack to guide BDCI through the legal steps to forming a coop. Finally, Patti, Wayne, Arlene Furhman, and Laurel Jones toured three communities—Tuttle, Wimbledon, and Binford—who have community owned grocery stores to research what works and what doesn’t work.

Pat Downs then presented the crowd with information about coops in general and how the BCC would work. People had many insightful and probing questions, and it was clear to all that this is a very important process for the community. Don Frye and Pat were extremely helpful in clarifying the issues. It was heartening to hear that other communities hold the opinion that Bowdon has what it takes to make this happen. Pam Stewart reported that people in Harvey are saying, “If it can be done, Bowdon can do it.” Other people from other communities have echoed that sentiment.

Bowdon Blog  

Those of us in "big cities" can hardly imagine what it would be like to lose the only grocery store in town, but for people in little towns like Bowdon, North Dakota -- about 20 miles straight southeast of Harvey; population 139 (in 2000) -- it must be devastating to the entire community when the owner of the one local grocery store passes away.  Not only did the town lose a friend and business leader, but it faces the loss of the one and only local grocery source.  Where do you suppose people in Bowdon would have to drive for groceries if their only grocery store closes?  I suppose Fessenden and Hurdsfield, each 10 to 15 miles away, have grocery stores.  And Harvey's got a store.  But that's 23 or 24 miles each way, by road.  But with gas breaking over $4.00 per gallon lately, there have to be a lot of people in and around Bowdon who can't afford the extra $10 (minimum) in gas, per grocery trip.

People in Fargo and Bismarck have all kinds of grocery store choices.  I can go to my little neighborhood Dan's grocery store, just a few blocks from my house.  Or, if I'm feeling like traveling, I can run to either of the other two big Dan's, to Cash Weezay, the Central Market store that I still call "Econofoods," or Target.  Then, of course, there's the evil empire stores -- two WalMarts (with grocery stores) and a Sam's Club -- where I occasionally shop, but shouldn't.  If any one of those stores closes, I'll just do my grocery shopping at one of the other eight stores.  Or I'll bounce across the river to one of the grocery stores in Mandan.  No big deal.

In Bowdon, it's gotta feel like the community is performing C.P.R. on the town as they fight to keep their one grocery store open.  

Maybe some of us should join the Bowdon food cooperative.   

Membership in the [Bowdon Community Cooperative] is $10.00 per household or individual. Each family may join as a unit for $10.00, or if any person in the family over the age of 18 wishes to hold an individual vote in the coop, he/she may join separately.  Membership applications are at the Bowdon Locker and Grocery, the Bowdon Café, First International Bank and Trust, and Bank Forward.  If you’re out of town, you may also call Laurel Jones at 701-341-0400 to have an application mailed to you.

Bowdon Blog  

Anyway... go check out the community blogs at northdakota.communityblogs.us.  Here's a list of the community blogs you can check out from there: 

It looks like they're recruiting people from these other small towns to start up blogs for their communities, too:

These community blogs seem to be focused on small town North Dakota events and issues.  I think it's great that people in and around North Dakota's small towns are forming their own blogging community.  

Check them out.  Let me know if you see anything else on one of those blogs that I can promote.

Comments (2)add comment

S. Fred Wood said:

Rock on rural ND!
Great post Chet. It is really neat to see such wonderful things happening in rural ND. Best place in America to live.
June 09, 2008
Votes: +0

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