I have been thinking a lot about the importance of communications during any crisis. When our power was out in our small town for 10 days this past winter, checking in on neighbors was made more difficult because so many people only had portable, plug in phones that do not work without electricity. Our cell service is spotty at best and, of course, once the batteries died, the phones quit working anyway. I have a cheap wall phone next to my bed that works as long as the phone wires are up. A lot of people also lost their list of phone numbers as that is stored in their phone memory. They couldn’t call family members who had only cell  phones because there was no way to access the number. It’s crazy just how dependent we are on that pesky electrical grid.

Take an evening and update your address book with essential phone numbers and addresses. Get yourself a phone that will work without electricity. If you have a cell phone, make sure you have a hand crank charger. I have one attached to my emergency radio.

I was think about getting a set of walkie talkies that would allow conversation between us and a few neighbors but we live in a very hilly area and I guess they only work  in line of sight. My next thought is CB radios. It may seem like overkill but I really don’t think so. Our power grid is so fragile that I can see sporadic blackouts becoming more common. The ability to reach neighbors could be lifesaving.

I am the editor of a small (small as in 80, 4 page papers a month) newspaper. The phones may stop working, but The Messenger will go on. The Messenger will tell you who was born, who died, and who got married. We run a couple of adds for local businesses, a town calendar and news from the school, library, town boards and sustainability group. You can sell home made quilts or look to buy some laying hens. You can advertise your tag sale. We also let folks know the wildlife news like when the bluebirds show up and who got an early frost. The cost is ten dollars a year if you can afford it but lots of people send in more so anybody who wants a Messenger can get one.

I can see these small town papers making a comeback. As the world gets more complicated and we become increasingly disconnected, there is a place for celebrating the Harper’s new baby and mourning the death of old Mr.Willis. There are a lot of days when the fate of the Creamery, our local grocery store, matters a while lot more to me than the fate of CitiBank.

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