Jan 23, 2009
This started in Helen’s parlor. I’ve never met Helen personally and don’t know much about her. I know she’s 82 years old, lives in Texas and has a potty mouth. She speaks her mind and puts into words what most of us have been thinking for the past few years but haven’t bothered to speak up about.
She and Margaret have been best friends for more than sixty years. Margaret lives in Maine and keeping in touch had always been by phone and mail until Helen’s grandson, Matthew, set up a blog for them to chat back and forth with.
It was a quiet little blog until the defining moment when Helen posted “Sarah Palin is a Bitch… there I said it.”
It was a featured blog on WordPress that day and the phenomena began. Here someone was saying what the rest of us were thinking and the news shot across cyberspace like a pinball machine on steroids! Hundreds of people left comments – articulate, well thought out comments with capital letters and punctuation, even apostrophes in words that needed them – it was a blog for grownups who watch the news and follow politics more closely. Many grandmothers dropped in.
Helen has kept the posts coming – always well thought out, well written, irreverent, funny and always right on target.
Pretty soon people were talking to each other about Helen’s various posts and, if the conversation lagged, someone would toss out a new topic and these like-minded souls would talk it over.
Every so often someone would post a “George Bush kept us safe” or Obama is a socialist Muslim” type comment and get beaten to a kilobyte by these clever commenters. Many of them keep coming back for more verbal abuse so it’s fun to check in regularly and wade through the comments.
One day someone from Alaska posted a link to a story about a village in their state that was facing a crisis. A bad run of salmon in the summer and an early winter freeze left them choosing between whether to buy food or heating oil.
Since the common thread many blog visitors had was a mutual distaste for Alaska’s governor, several other articles followed and we all wondered why nobody was doing anything about it.
Then one day Ann Strongheart left a post saying it wasn’t only the Emmonak, the village in the first story, it was the whole Yukon Delta that was suffering. She is the director of the village of Nunam Iqua’s youth program and added a personal touch to the crisis. People started making calls, using contacts but still no one in the Alaska governor’s office will acknowledge there’s a problem.
We became aware that many Alaska blogs were already on top of the story – one in particuar, The Mudflats.net – and so began this grass roots drive to get food and other donations to Ann’s village. We’ve been sending food, formula, diapers and toilet paper in USPS flat rate boxes or through SPAN Alaska, a company that specializes in shipping food to rural Alaska.
The posts about the situation in Alaska are starting to get lost in the comment section over at Helen’s and Mudflats so I’m hoping this blog will make it easier to post and find information about the situation in Alaska.
Please visit the How to help page and see it you can help in any way. It might take one letter to the right congressman, a contact with a news source that can get the word out or one box of food from everyone who can afford it.
Spread the word! I’ve put a flyer online that can be posted on bulletin boards and left in break rooms. You can download and edit the DOC file or print the PDF as is.
If we each do a little bit, we’ll make a big difference together.
Thanks in advance,
For more information visit our Facebook group:
Rural Alaskans are forced to choose between freezing and starving