Getting the Message Out to Neighbors While Shut In


I started this Advisory as a piece on “Hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil.” It was a reflection of the importance of communicating these days in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic. But I decided that theme would focus too much on “evil,” so I dialed back to “getting the message out.”

Certainly, our ways of communicating have changed! Here are three events from just the past week that relate to getting the message out. I wanted to share them to see whether they parallel some of what you’ve been experiencing.

1 – “Love looks not with the eyes but with the mind.” Shakespeare, Midsummer Night’s Dream

Wednesday I was part of a conference call. Big deal, you yawn. Everybody knows that conference calls, and particularly Zoom calls, are the way communications are taking place these days.

But this one was different, because it was a call among members of our community who are blind or visually impaired.

Think about that for a moment.

If you can’t see well, you certainly can’t see those Blue Angels streaking across the TV screen, much less across the sky. You can’t binge on Hulu or Netflix. Even when your children call, all you may get is their voices – no smiling faces or gurgling babies, or whatever images would be showing on FaceTime.

People with vision problems are often isolated anyway. We have a group that meets every month, just to give friends a chance to get out and get together safely.

Because of the coronavirus, of course, our meetings have been cancelled.

So yesterday’s UberConference® call was a new experience – and the first time most of these senior citizens had been on such a call.

The call turned out to be a home run!  

Everyone figured out how to get aboard (Dial, type in the call ID number), handled “mute” and “unmute” at the right time (“Press star twide”).  

Best of all, friends whom we normally see/hear only at a monthly meeting got a chance to hear each other’s voices! We laughed and laughed at the stories people told –

  • “My son came to visit and went shopping for us. He seems to have forgotten that we are just two people, because he came home with a gallon of sour cream and 10 pounds of pasta!”
  • “I’m glad I’ve retired from teaching! I had enough trouble with this call. I don’t know how I would have managed the “online learning” technology.”
  • “As I heard your voices, I pictured you all sitting around the table at our usual meeting.  Then it hit me — we are all in separate houses!!”

So, this was a first – and now, something we will use again. This truly was a message of love looking “with the mind.”  Who do you know who might appreciate being able to join in a group call?

2 – “Hear no evil, speak no evil, and you won’t be invited to cocktail parties.” ~ Oscar Wilde

I couldn’t resist this quote and had to fit it into this Advisory! It’s a bit off the topic, but hey. We’re sharing ways of communicating, right?

So here’s another communications first, one you can share in.

Just about a month ago, one of my emergency preparedness contacts on LinkedIn asked if Joe and I would do a podcast for his “radio station.”

“When I saw you had published a book on how to build community preparedness, I knew I wanted to hear the story,” said Preston Schleinkofer. President and Founder of Civil Defense Virginia.

Preston has developed his own program to encourage more community members to join in with local government authorities to “preserve safety, security and constitutional government functions” in the case of natural disasters and man-made catastrophes. (Us oldsters will recognize that Preston has come up with a new definition for “Civil Defense.”)

You can read about Preston’s 501©3 organization at and get more about his philosophy of Continuity of Community. You can also hear the interview he did with Joe and me at! You’ll see Emergency Plan Guide right there at the top of his list of podcasts!

What helps get communities to work together?

As we listened to our voices (always a sort of out-of-body experience) I heard us identifying some of what has helped us build our local neighborhood groups. In the past you’ve heard how we based our organizing on CERT. But we also brought our own background to the table. Namely:

  • Both Joe and I have done door-to-door selling! (There’s nothing like it for building self-confidence.)
  • Both of us have trained and taught students, employees, and professional colleagues.

Since we’re both writers, too, it has been a natural for us to translate our 20 years of business and community experiences into some do-it-yourself guide books. The first series was to help communities improve their level of preparedness. Our newest series is aimed at personal preparedness.

As Preston says, “Everyone is more of a preparedness expert now, as a result of the coronavirus.”  I invite you to take a listen to all of his podcasts for info about even more emergencies we ought to be concerned with, including grid failure from electromagnetic pulse.

3 – “Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.” Margaret Atwood,The Handmaid’s Tale

Earlier this week the White House rejected CDC guidelines aimed at getting the message out about how best to manage a phased re-opening of the economy. Apparently the guidelines were “too prescriptive.”

Sorry, but I read “too prescriptive” as “too hard for ordinary Americans to understand and follow.”

So the guidelines have been removed from the CDC website!  (Go there looking for them and you get an “Oops, can’t find that!” message.)

With thousands of people dying every day, I believe that most of us would WANT the chance to see some expert information to make our lives safer. Dumbing it down just doesn’t make sense to me – that is “working” at ignoring, as Margaret Atwood says.

I hope these three examples of “getting the message out” have inspired you as we continue to cope with this astonishing historical development, the COVID-19 pandemic. What can you add about communicating?

Your Emergency Plan Guide team

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