Communicating with the masses

Looking into neighborhood issues that stem from poor communication

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This month is the September song: “School Daze,” a time for lessons. Here are a few recent story problems about communing with the common denominator, communication:

• First, losin’ confusion! — You are a tech person communicating to an un-tech, easily-confused public. First have someone translate your remarks into everyday words. Tell Mr. or Ms. Q. Public this meeting is about, say, lowering the chance of flooding, and improving water that is being polluted by increased urbanization, and how this work must have benefits greater than the cost. Also say what it is not about: bikeways, dredging etc., which are city and urban drainage matters, which have no formal plan for this area. Now you might mention the fine points of structured versus non-structured, and of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The bike-dredge folks can depart — no longer in confusion — to email city, urban drainage or councilpersons.

• Cell tower “communication?” — You are a high-tech outfit that puts up cell towers, notifying a wary neighborhood. Also communicate the address of the intended right-of-way site for your cell tower. Not doing so keeps neighbors who were contacted wondering how the folks on site feel about it, before the Registered Neighborhood Organization, or RNO, comments. In this case, the solution worked out after a multiplication of emails, not many cell phones and a couple of truly algebrainiac conversations. All neighborhoods are getting pole-erized, it seems.

• Cash cachet, what’s in a name? — Years ago it was amusingly annoying when Realtors started identifying houses as being in a place where there are no houses. Its residents are birds, bunnies, squirrels. We asked the home-sellers to stop this foolishness, but it was selling! It’s a historic two-block park, with its own name — not the surrounding RNO name. Then, large apartments in the neighborhood, four to eight blocks from the park, were using its name. At first we snickered, but then builders outside our RNO began to use it! Is it legal? As far as I’ve heard. Is it confusing? Well, yeah, if you live there and wonder why you can’t find it as your RNO. The squirrels are not organized. Do the Realtors explain this once the dotted line is signed? And why is the name Observatory so compelling — does each unit come with a telescope? Heh, heh.

• You live in a small house. A one-half-block-long, six-story building rises west behind you. The time, rate and distance of the sunset remain the same, but you cannot see it. If a sun sets in a forest of high-rises is it still beautiful? (I hope so.)

Story problems to share? Let us know.

The September song here is always “Happy birthday.” Mine and my husband’s mothers observed Labor Day weekend with additions back in the, um, ‘30s. I’m one day younger than my husband is. Will I ever catch up? They say with age comes wisdom, learning what you do or don’t know. But they also say “to stay young, keep learning!” If you stay young, when are you going to get that wisdom? Still calculating.

Diana Helper has written for the Wash Park Profile for 35 of the 63 years she and her husband have lived in Denver. She works on projects with the city, University of Denver, Inter-Neighborhood Cooperation, Open Space and Parks and Recreation.

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