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The handwriting is on the paper

Alicia Knadler
Indian Valley Editor
4/28/2010


    Earlier this month, a feeling of selfish whininess overcame me before an evening meeting — a large departure from my “fabulous” self, as I’m known hereabouts.
    It was a workshop for residents to attend and give their input for the general plan update, and I just knew it would be sparsely attended.
    It’s pretty dull when the public doesn’t bother attending these things, or so I thought at the time.
    Pass the cheese anyone?
    Instead, I was surprised and actually enjoyed learning the nitty-gritty about the mechanics and language of it all.
    The low-tech nature of the surprises was rather interesting for a gadget gal such as myself who is into all things digital.
    First of all, the meeting was better attended than I thought it would be, though there were several people there from elsewhere in the county — enough to outnumber locals, though they did represent several local interests.
    My first real surprise came when one of the plan designers asked participants how they learn about meetings and activities in the community — and the resounding answer was from the Indian Valley Record.
    It may seem like the logical answer, but the question is usually posed differently — like how does one hear about things.
    Many years ago people would answer that question with the radio or through their friends, coworkers and family.
    These days I hear e-mail and Facebook mentioned quite often as sources of information — and rumors, of course.
    It felt great hearing that the community newspaper is the main way residents find information about upcoming local events, which is unusual and unlike other communities, one participant said.
    That was really nice to hear, and will inspire me to remember that readers depend on my coworkers and me to make sure they learn about these things in a way that will help them remember to attend.
    The way press releases are written sometimes makes me laugh, with boring, run-on lead sentences about who is going to do what, when, where, why and how.
    That’s so old school, and readers just don’t have time to muddle through all that to get to the gist — what’s in it for them?
    So, take note you press release writers: Give us all the Ws and the how of it, but not all in the first sentence.
    May I use my new Facebook lingo, LOL?
    My second surprise was rediscovering the importance of a handwritten note.
    The one who reminded me of this almost-lost art is a local woman who I really look up to for all her years of work in and dedication to the community.
    She had attended the special Women in History luncheon and really enjoyed the presentation made by our managing editor, Delaine Fragnoli.
     “I’d like to write a nice note to Delaine about her spectacular presentation for Women’s History Month,” the woman said to me.
    “OK,” I answered back. “Do you want her e-mail or her snail mail?”
    She looked at me and said ever so sweetly that she actually wanted to write the note by hand.
    I don’t think my momentary lapse was noticeable, at least she didn’t look questioningly at me for what I hope wasn’t a blank or horrified stare.
    I was in a dither inside my own head, wondering if I had handwritten that recent thank-you note to her or e-mailed it.
    She took me out of my misery a split-second later, “…like the one you did,” she said.
    So my lessons learned this month served to remind me that while real, hold-in-your-hand newspapers and notes might be becoming more of a rarity in this digital age, they are also becoming more valuable to people who need to remain connected in meaningful, fabulous ways.

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