The Viewpoint page is one of the most popular features of our, or any, newspaper. The exchange of ideas, the spleen-venting missives, even the occasional recognition of a random act of kindness or service that exceeded expectations reflects the mind set and mood of a community. We love it.
With the late spring lull upon us, we kicked around some thoughts about how to spur readers to take to their computers, typewriters and stationary (yes, we still get type- and hand-written letters). A provocative editorial on an incendiary topic? No, we do try to provoke discussion, but we stop short of being intentionally or artificially inciteful. (Some would argue we fail to be insightful, either.) Allow anonymous letters? No, we believe putting your name to your thoughts promotes a level of accountability and civility (sometimes) we like to see in our public discourse.
We settled on solicitation, just a straightforward request to our readers that they write a letter to the editor. We make it easy. You can email a letter, mail it, or drop it off in person at our office.
Some readers call about a concern and we encourage them to write a letter to the editor. Others we talk to are a little hesitant to put their thoughts out there.
What could you write a letter about? Anything, really, within certain parameters. We don’t publish poetry, for example. We do accept accolades and attaboys, kudos and kind regards, zingers and zeitgeist. Yes, zeitgeist. For if a letters forum is anything, it is a reflection of the spirit of our times.
You could write an appreciation for the friendship of a neighbor or community group that has helped you get to the doctor or delivered a hot meal. You could write to praise the performance of a local theater group or chorale or to complain about the earsplitting music that rattles your windows when an oblivious motorist drives by blasting his stereo. (Come to think of it, we might write about that, too. It seems to be getting worse around here.)
You could offer suggestions about how to improve the community. We won’t even get mad if you say that’s how you did it Up North. You could write about the good old days or about the wonders of modern technology that allow you to stay connected with old friends and family members far away or even just across town.
Write about your laments, your hopes, your Red Hat luncheon, your Kiwanis or Rotary Club’s donation (Elks, Lions, Eagles, Moose, Masons, Knights, too).
The point is, write a letter. Share your thoughts, get something off your chest, pat yourself or a neighbor on the back. Who knows, maybe you’ll become a regular.