By Wayne Coioke
Few of the 60,000 residents of Graham know that there is more to their community than a place to live and stores to buy food. Like sewing a patchwork quilt, GrahamCitizens is trying to sew those 60,000 residents together by simply informing them about all the (non-commercial) activities and opportunities in Graham. But with no newspaper and no other means of community connection, GrahamCitizens has had to plead with people to phone in and request the (free) information they should have had all along. The large 3 and a half feet. by 7 and a half feet signs have been up most of the last two months along the roads. They scream “Phone 875-6299” at you, and remind you of the little “Phone Graham” fliers you saw in Graham businesses, and that Val-Pak slip you noticed, and the advertisement in the Uptown Coffee News.
How’s this community patchwork quilt coming along?
It’s had a slow start. In the two months, GrahamCitizens has mailed out 37 packets. Each of the residents who were curious enough to phone 875-6299 heard Leslie’s kind voice suggest they leave their mailing address, etc. on the voice mail. Then Kathy used a password to record the information on a spreadsheet and e-mail it to Wayne or Josh, who transferred that address onto a large manila envelope with four stamps, stuffed it with 14 papers giving information about 12 groups in Graham plus Graham demographics and a cover letter, and mailed it. The person who phoned finds it in their mailbox and has an evening of learning about Graham. They might be interested in the weight-reduction group, or the waste-management group, or the Boy Scout troop, or the Morse Wildlife Preserve in the middle of Graham. In all cases, contact information and meeting times are included.
Or, they might feel compelled to help provide needed leadership and direction to Graham by joining the Land-Use Advisory Commission or the Community Council. This last has recently reorganized and provides many opportunities for friendship and service. Their new website is www.g-kcc.org .
It takes patience and time to sew a patchwork quilt together. Some people may feel suspicious or are simply too busy to add another concern. This project will last only through 2014. By the end of the year, with added word-of-mouth communication, GrahamCitizens hopes that a sizable chunk of those 60,000 people will know that Graham is more than a place to live. Some may even step in, pick up the quilt, and do more sewing themselves.
Wayne Cooke is a leader of GrahamCitizens.