Autumn Philips: There’s no substitute for meeting someone in person
Last week, I received an e-mail from a reader of the newspaper I edited in Arizona before moving to Grand County. When I lived in Arizona, he e-mailed me after every edition of the paper to comment on what he liked, where he thought the stories fell short or just to tell me a joke. Since many of my readers in that town were retired, I had several who wrote me often or called to talk town politics. During those conversations, I learned about their pasts, their thoughts about the community and their desires for the paper they read front to back. I knew them well, but I did not know them at all. When I received that e-mail last week, it suddenly hit me that I did not have a mental image of that man because I never actually met him in person. With the advent of e-mail and cell phone text messages, we communicate more than ever but we are actually more disconnected from one another than ever. Take as an example, a recent morning on the Pony Express chairlift. There are few things more intimate than hanging in the air on a two-chair lift with a complete stranger. The guy next to me was talking away on his cell phone to a friend in Georgia. Once the phone conversation ended, he reached in his pocket and put in his iPod earbuds and turned up the music. We skied off the lift a few minutes later without ever looking at each other or saying so much as hello. That encounter felt so urban to me nothing like the life I was looking for when I decided to move back to the Rocky Mountains. There’s something to be said for turning off the computers and cell phones and actually sitting down for an old-fashioned, face-to-face conversation. And so, I’d like you to meet me in person.Since I started writing this column every Thursday, I have extended an invitation for you to call or drop by my office, and many of you have. But not everyone is comfortable walking into a strange office to sit down with someone they’ve never met. That’s why I’ll be parting the sea of papers and Post-its on my desk every Friday morning in order to leave my office and be available to you in person, in a different town every week. We’re calling these editor forays into the sunlight coffees. Publisher Kim Burner and I will be in Kremmling tomorrow morning from 8:30 to 10 a.m. at the Kremmling Chamber of Commerce office. We will be in Kremmling on the first Friday of each month same time, same place every month hereafter. On the second Friday of each month 8:30 to 10 a.m. we will be in Grand Lake (location to be determined and advertised in this newspaper). We will be in Granby, here at the newspaper office, on the third Friday of each month, and in Winter Park or Fraser on the fourth Friday of each month. These mornings will be a good chance for you to stop by and ask questions, yell if you need to, share story ideas or just have a cup of coffee and talk.As I walk through the grocery store on any given Saturday, I know that I have probably spoken to half the people around me on the phone or written them an e-mail, but I just don’t know the faces. I plan for that to change with each passing Friday.
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