Let me get something off my chest.
For a long time now, we’ve been working hard at getting information about the Township out to residents and visitors. We have websites, email blasts, a newsletter, and a Facebook page. We send out Twitter announcements and NIXLE messages. We put up signs, publish brochures, write letters, take out ads, hang posters, insert bill stuffers, produce videos and meet with all sorts of local organizations. Not only that, we work with local newspapers and broadcasters to provide timely and practical information concerning virtually every aspect of life in Cranberry.
But just about every week, someone comes up to me with an indignant look to complain about being surprised by something we’ve actually been publicizing for weeks. “Why wasn’t I informed?” they demand to know.
Well, the answer in most cases is that they chose not to be informed. When I point out that it was in the Cranberry Eagle, they’ll say “I never read that paper; it goes straight to my recycling cart.” When I tell them it was on our website home page, they’ll reply “I don’t have time to waste on the Internet.” And when I explain that it’s something we’ve been announcing on our big-screen monitor and with posters throughout the Municipal Center, they’ll tell me “I never pay attention to those when I’m in the Municipal Center.”
Okay. Fair enough. We all have the right to choose not to pay attention to the information around us. And there really is a glut of information out there. Sometimes it seems like we’re overdosing on it. So we all need to be selective. I can even understand that someone might not want to pour over the legal ads we’re required to place in the Butler Eagle.
But part of being a citizen in a democracy means taking on the burden of informing yourself, at least in broad outline, of what’s going on. You can’t participate effectively in government at any level unless you have at least some understanding of the issues and events of the day. Ignorance may be bliss, but doesn’t make for good government. Each of us is responsible for educating ourselves about the issues that matter to us.
Cranberry’s Board of Supervisors has asked our staff to look at our communications efforts over the coming months to make sure we’re all doing what we can to provide meaningful communications with our residents and businesses. If you have any suggestions on how we can get our “stuff” to stand out better and reach people more effectively, I would welcome your thoughts. In the meantime, we will continue to work on new ways of making our information available and easy to find.
But please understand that when I look at you in bewilderment after you’ve just told me that the Township never tells people what is going on, it’s not because we didn’t try.