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Technology A Blessing, A Curse For Remote Island by THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

Technology A Blessing, A Curse For Remote Island
by Martha Irvine, Associated Press national writer.

BEAVER ISLAND, Mich. November 8, 2010, 12:14 pm ET
Muggs Bass doesn’t own a computer. She’s pretty much dead set against e-mail. Anyone who calls her home on Michigan’s remote Beaver Island should be prepared for a busy signal, if she’s on her land-line phone. She has no cell.

“When you don’t have it, you don’t miss it. That’s what I say,” says the spunky 70-year-old grandmother, who’s as comfortable telling jokes at the local pub as she is attending Mass each morning.

Technology isn’t really her thing. So, it’s a small miracle when Bass drives, once a month, to her island’s rural health center to sit down in front of a wide-screen television. There, she and a handful of other islanders connect by video conference with a similar group in Charlevoix, Mich., a two-hour ferry ride to the south and east.

They chat. They laugh. They cry together.

All of them have, or have had, cancer, Bass included. Hers started with a lump in her breast and has since metastasized to her bones, making her cancer treatable, but incurable, her doctors tell her.

Her own grandmother died of the same disease and went off the island for occasional treatments, as Bass does every few weeks. But that grandmother could hardly have imagined a day when islanders talked openly about their cancer, face-to-face with people in a support group miles away.

It’s just one of many ways technology is making this rugged place less remote than it once was and, some would say, more livable for more people.

It also gives islanders hope for new jobs that could attract residents to this island in northern Lake Michigan where the year-round population is about 650 people, give or take a few dozen.

“In the last few years, technology has sprung,” says Joe Moore, a retired teacher who’s known as one of the geeks on the island who helps keep computers running.

Not that the change has come quickly, or that technology always works perfectly.

That’s just how it is on an island where a popular bumper sticker reads “Slow Down! This Ain’t The Mainland.” It’s aimed at anyone who’s in too big a hurry, including lead-footed tourists who kick up dust on the many dirt roads or who panic when cell phone service drops.

That’s life on wired — or at least, semi-wired — Beaver Island… (continued)


I think this is a Great article – I love hearing positive tech success stories & how it’s used to connect with loved ones as well as communicate with remote care providers. This is the way technology should be used. Certainly, like with anything, it can be over-used and abused. Thinking about the island visitors who freak when cell reception goes dead finds me feeling a bit sheepish – perhaps we ALL could use a little more of the Beaver Island attitude. What really is important is that with tech today, all age groups can CONNECT & benefit! Muggs discusses that she doesn’t really care to use tech & while that may partly be true (no cell or PC), she really IS using technology every day. Using web chat (via skype) an I would guess that much of her medical care utilizes cutting-edge tech as well. At GrandCare Systems, we do the same thing. Smarthome Tech, Activity of Daily Living monitoring, Telehealth, Remote Socialization Tech to individuals who want to stay independent & connected to family. Similarly, GrandCare allows a loved one to Skype with ONE touch on the interactive touchpad. The loved one doesn’t have to know anything about computers to use it – perfect for beaver island! Thanks again! Laura Mitchell, GrandCare Systems