Jul 6 2010

Local. Organic. Wi-Fi.

On my way back from the Homer airport this morning (five minute drive from my house) after dropping off a pair of packages at Fedex (yes – Fedex is here – at the airport – but you’ve got to drop off by 10:30 for next day delivery) I saw a sign that caught my eye.

Local.  Organic.  Wi-Fi.

The sign was outside the Sourdough Express Bakery, one of Homer’s local restaurant institutions (it’s been around since 1982 and is on the “must eat there once every summer” list.)

I’ve noticed Wi-Fi signs on most of the Homer restaurants, coffee shops, and stores this summer. Almost all of it is free. There’s even Wi-Fi available on the Homer Spit that’s free for an hour at a time.  After being gone for two years, Wi-Fi appears to be almost ubiquitous up here.

Not surprisingly, there is no AT&T 3G here.  We’ve got excellent AT&T Edge service and the AT&T phone service is spectacular (thanks to ACS) but no 3G.  So my iPhone is extremely slow up here, except on Wi-Fi.  Which I can get almost everywhere.

I’m kind of intrigued by the marketing around Wi-Fi.  I get local, especially in a place like Homer (hippy town, lots of local farms, almost all local fish, cost of transportation for stuff to here – the end of the road – is high).  I also get organic (as organic is the super trendy extra hippy movement of the day). However, Wi-Fi surprised me a little, but when I think about it, it makes perfect sense as this is a heavy tourist town in the summer.  “Stop here, check your email on your laptop using free Wi-Fi, and eat some halibut while you are at it.”

When I’m in Homer, I pay a lot of attention to the local small town patterns that exist.  Most of the places outside Boulder that I spend time in are large cities (New York, San Francisco, Boston, Seattle, Los Angeles) so I feel like I’ve got the big city rhythm in the US figured out.  But I definitely struggle to understand “the small town” as I’m hesitant to use Boulder as a reference point.  While Homer is also a pretty unique place, it’s probably a good proxy for tourist spots in the US that are under 10,000 permanent residents that is no where near a big city (the largest – Anchorage – is 222 miles away.)  If nothing else, the tempo of the place is radically different than the other places I spend time in during the year.

I expect I’ll have plenty of other missives from (and about) Homer this month.  If you want pictures, Amy’s got plenty of them building up over on her site Thoughts in Random Patterns.