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The Online South Dakotan
Oct 1, 2014
When commenters here get personal, I usually remind them that I'm not the issue. This time, I make myself part of the issue.
As one of the speakers at this Saturday's TEDx Brookings event, I plan to talk about maintaining identity and community through blogging. As readers here know, I've been moving around a lot over the last few years, from Madison to Spearfish to Spokane and now St. Paul. My wife is studying to be a pastor. We hope she'll be assigned to a South Dakota church, but we don't know whether or when that will happen.
During these travels and too-long absences, I have discovered what I think a lot of you South Dakota Magazine readers feel: that your home isn't just the town where you have lived and worked and retired, but the whole state of South Dakota. You may be from Aberdeen, but you feel a certain proud ownership of Riverboat Days, the Corn Palace, the Mickelson Trail, and Mount Rushmore. Even if you are away in Phoenix or El Paso (winter is coming!), you still think of yourself as a South Dakotan, and you want to stay connected to South Dakota. So you read South Dakota Magazine.
I read this magazine and other South Dakota press to sustain my South Dakota identity. But I also write. I send you these columns every couple weeks. In between, I punch out three, four, five blog posts a day. Blogging is the first thing I do when I get out of bed, and my blogging is almost always about South Dakota. That blogging keeps me connected with the people and places I love.
I don't write just for me. I write with the intention of influencing my community by researching and writing blog posts that will inform my neighbors, provoke them to conversation, and affect how they vote.
I have used my blogging to launch honest-to-goodness political activism in South Dakota. Last March, in response to interest from a number of blog readers, I coordinated a team of South Dakotans who challenged a statewide nominating petition. The formal challenge failed to remove the candidate from the ballot, but it did uncover evidence that led to the arrest of that candidate for perjury. That's a notable success for a team that never met in person and was managed by an activist 1,200 miles away.
I'm not in South Dakota, but I'm influencing South Dakota's politics.
Do I really get to choose my identity and exercise it in your community, just because I say so, and just because I blog a lot?
We all recognize that the Internet changes boundaries. That little plastic and glass slab in your pocket allows you to establish your presence in South Dakota from almost anywhere in the world.
Do you want that? Do you want people like me, or snowbirds, or kids off at college, to be able to reconnect and engage instantly with South Dakota? Do you want “ex-pats” to be able to plant a South Dakota flag on their blog or Instagram account and participate in organizing, lobbying, campaigning, and other activities that affect the daily life of our polis?
Or is there a certain carpetbaggery to online presence that makes you say, “You can look at South Dakota, but you cannot touch?”
I'll be exploring that question in my TEDx talk Saturday in Brookings. I invite you to explore it here.
Editor's Note: Cory Heidelberger is our political columnist from the left. For a conservative perspective on politics, please look for columns by Dr. Ken Blanchard on this site.
Cory Allen Heidelberger writes the Madville Times political blog. He grew up on the shores of Lake Herman. He studied math and history at SDSU and information systems at DSU, and has taught math, English, speech, and French at high schools East and West River.