Debbie Knight

Science in the strangest places: Neighborhood newsletters

In observation on June 1, 2011 at 4:39 pm

My neighbors must think I’m a geek. But I’m okay with that.

Three years ago I volunteered to write the newsletter for my neighborhood. The goal was to relay the neighborhood news in such a way that the neighbors would actually read it and to improve the neighborhood association’s image.

The former newsletters had been bare bones. While informational, they were not all that “fun” to read. More often than not, they offered a long litany of rules and how not to break the rules. It gave an image that the neighborhood association was constantly policing the neighborhood, clipboard in hand, ready to pounce on any rule-breaking resident at the moment the infraction occurred.

I wanted to set a different tone.

So, after consulting my “inner hippie,” I wrote the first newsletter full of good vibes and intentions. And neighborhood feedback told me it worked.

I will admit I did have an agenda: to always include something “green,” you know, to help out the environment a little. So I’ve included articles about composting, curbside recycling, disposing of household hazards, organic gardening and lawn care, alternatives to salt for de-icing wintry sidewalks, etc.

And, after a while, I even started sneaking in more obvious science!

I often include an interview-style feature called “Ask Mr. Science!” where my husband and I banter back and forth about topics such as why highway sounds seem louder when the humidity is high or the physics of Santa Claus.

I also try to include science that might be relevant to the homeowner. In the most recent edition of the newsletter I included an article about the nitrogen footprint (which was similar to my blog post from February 21st)

I don’t know if my neighbors appreciate the science I send their way, but as the editor I choose to include it. You never know who is paying attention out there.

And, if they think I’m a science geek, all the better!

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