Historical roots of Locally Grown

Locally Grown contributors Tracy Davis and Griff Wigley were among the co-founders of Northfield Citizens Online (NCO) / Northfield.org.

NCO was born at a Utne Reader Neighborhood Salon at Griff’s house in December of 1991. The discussion questions for the evening: What’s the likely impact of the Internet on the local community? How can it be used to strengthen a geographic community rather than undermining it like other electronic media tend to do?

A group began meeting a year or so later and eventually set up a BBS called the Northfield Free-Net, which started operation in 1994 before changing over to a website (using the domain nco.northfield.mn.us ) in late 1994/early 1995. The NCO Web Cafe (web message board) was added in late 1995.

For more history, see this Nov. 16, 2011 article on Northfield.org by Marika Christofides titled Happy Anniversary, Northfield.org.

1996 NCO Board
1996 NCO board members Steve Hatle, Bob Courchaine, Bruce Morlan, Tracy Davis, Andrea Christianson, Griff Wigley, John Hatch. Not pictured: Lynne Young and George Kinney. Others who were involved in the early stages: Kent Rabehl and Dave Diehl.
Dec. 1996 screenshot of NCO homepage nco.northfield.mn.us
Dec. 1996 screenshot of NCO homepage nco.northfield.mn.us (click to enlarge)

NCO was formed as a 501c3 non-profit in 1994 with the help of the Northfield Community Action Center. The Northfield.org domain name was secured in March of 2000 (it was originally registered and used by the Northfield News for their website) and the site was converted to a blog in 2003.

2000 NCO board members Bruce Morlan, Mark Heiman, Tracy Davis, Bob Courchaine, Griff Wigley, Curt Benson

From 1996 through 2004, Griff was moderator for the online discussion areas and Community Issue Forums that were hosted on various Northfield.org discussion platforms. He also was instrumental in launching the Northfield Blogosphere project and the aggregation service that it provided.

July 19, 2000 Northfield News article: Mark Heiman, Griff Wigley, Tracy Davis, Nick Benson, Bruce Morlan, Bob Courchaine, Curt Benson (click to enlarge)
2005 NCO board members Adam Gurno, Alex Beeby, Bruce Morlan, Rob Brown, Doug Bratland
2005 NCO board members Rick Estenson, Ellen Iverson, Jonathan Jaranson, Jan Hill. (click to enlarge)
2006 NCO board members Ellen Iverson, Adam Gurno, Alex Beeby, Jan Hill, Bruce Morlan, Rick Estenson, Rob Brown, Jonathan Jaranson, Doug Bratland (click to enlarge)

Northfield News articles:

  • A week in the life of NCO: Strengthening Northfield’s civic fabric via the Internet (column by Griff Wigley, September, 1999)
  • High-tech Bridge Square (article by Rachel Vogt, Northfield News Staff Writer, Summer 1998, Roads to Progress Edition