Democracy can succeed only when people talk to each other. When we do, and speak and listen with intelligence and good will, we can build and maintain government that works in our interest: government by the people, for the people.

When Rockland was built 160 years ago, we were a relatively self-sufficient community. We did the thinking here. Entrepreneurs and workers shared a compact city and passed each other on the sidewalks. News from the rest of the world came by sailing vessel.

With the coming of the automobile, and radio and television, our attention to our neighbors has deteriorated. Many of us now live out of town, far from each other. When we pass each other in our cars we never stop to talk.

Meanwhile, we are fascinated by the images on our screens, beguiled by a national spectacle that is brought to us by those who seek to sell us things. It is a system well-proven to work: we buy those things. Not just material things, but beliefs that support the priviledges and power of those who are organized and have the means to promote their interests.

One of the most damaging things that has been sold to us on our screens is the negative partisanship now stifling the thought and dialog that we need to succeed. Our discord is useful to those whose power fills the vacuum.

The solution is not to dive into our screens and battle the enemy. It is to look away from our screens, and look to each other.

Is it possible to return to the kind of thoughtful community that makes democracy viable? It is a daunting challenge, but Rockland is a good place to start. We still have our compact little city, built before the automobile. At least a few of us still cross paths on the sidewalks and stop to exchange news and views, and even those of us who live in the suburbs can join us in town for the day. Many of our neighborhoods remain mixed of class, so that by knowing our neighbors we can understand something of our fellow citizens’ variety of experience.

We have also a special asset in our own local radio station, rare in these days of media consolidation. WRFR is not about the national media spectacle, and it is not about partisanship. The station is run entirely by volunteers, and everyone is invited to participate. Our expenses, less than $20,000 a year, are supported by over 80 local business sponsors, giving us the independence to serve the community in which we live.

WRFR is now 16 years old, The Buzz is our baby. We are a bit young for parenthood, and our resurces are limited, so we need your support and encouragement. The goal of The Buzz is the same as the goal of WRFR: to give our community its own voice and to encourage the thoughtful and respectful conversation that makes democracy work.

At 24 weeks old, The Buzz is in its infancy. Our immediate goal is that it will grow to double its current size, and have room for display and classified ads from individuals and small businesses. If we can generate just $200 each week, The Buzz will be self-sustaining, and could look forward to a long, happy and useful life.

Let us know if you want to help, and what skills you might contribute. One way to help is by occasionally writing The Buzz. Your stories will help us be universal. Our goal each week is to spark a conversation about something of importance to us here in Rockland. It could be any subject, as long as it helps us to consider, and to talk.

To continue this conversation, join us this Wednesday from 5 to 6 pm on WRFR’s Rockland Metro Show, 93.3 fm in Rockland, 99.3 fm in Camden, and online at WRFR.org. To contact The Buzz,
email joe@interhuman.org or call Joe at 596-0731.