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The Use of Effective Community Communication

The Use of Effective Community Communication

Above:  Early ‘Carmageddon' traffic moving smoothly

The months of television warnings, celebrity tweets, radio spots, speeches by governmental officials from various agencies has proven one thing:  we can get it right.  Humans are remarkable creatures, turning the ordinary and mundane into the extraordinary. 

 For three days in the summer a portion of the 405 freeway was closed to traffic to create a new carpool lane, which involves taking down part of the Mulholland Bridge.  The avoidance of mass panic, traffic jams, and epic doom is due to individual choices to stay away from the route and create alternative plans.  This is not to say the residents and business owners closest to the project have not been affected.  Considering the size and scope of the construction we have survived and thrived.  

What makes this possible?  Propaganda; 1718, from Mod.L. propaganda, short for Congregatio de Propaganda Fide "congregation for propagating the faith," committee of cardinals established 1622 by Gregory XV to supervise foreign missions.  Modern political sense dates from World War I, not originally pejorative (

The community was given a singular goal by every local news channel, newspaper, magazine, politician, and governmental official repeatedly giving updates and information about the 405 construction.  The echo chamber of this event also included every individual in the community that posted information about it on his or her social media account, those that talked about it with their fellow congregation members at church, and laughed about the predicted doom with their co-workers.

This is the social capital that is so vital and needed in Los Angeles, California, and the rest of our nation.  Robert Putnam wrote Bowling Alone to explain "The Collapse and Revival of American Community".  We are revived and improve when we do what is right and prepare.  Ultimately, as Robert Putnam explained in Bowling Alone, "[t]o build bridging social capital requires that we transcend our social and political and professional identities to connect with people...".

Propaganda is good, as teachers, coaches, parents, and chief executive officers know.  People need content to be repeated several times before it sinks into their mind.  The more a slogan or information is repeated, the greater the frequency, the more likely it will be recalled.  It takes seven or more times for a message to be repeated and remembered, especially remembered if over a variety of platforms, including images, videos, and internet posts (Kruse).  The endless months of words, pictures, and hands-on experience of driving the 405 and seeing warning signs gave residents a common goal and plan.

Imagine if we organized the same way with Carmageddon as a community on other issues.  What if our local news reporters chose to stop giving us fluffy, bloody, short, shiny news stories in their broadcasts?  What if our local politicians stopped presenting a million different projects and promises every day?  What if our efforts were focused?  We could focus and think through and encourage

 -better roads in other areas
-best parenting practices
-solutions to combat drug use
-improved attitudes toward education
-excellent nutrition in all our schools.

Solving these and other topics is not impossible, it is not that we "can't" solve or improve them; it is not that we should just give up.  We need to focus and spread the "propaganda".

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