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Quartzsite, Arizona

Friday, March 23, 2012

Editorial comment by Shanana Rain Golden-Bear

Yesterday an anonymous letter/flier hit the streets of Quartzsite advocating a boycott of local businesses who carry or advertise in a competitor's paper. I do not advocate boycotting local businesses and have stated so in the past.

In my editorial of January 5, 2011, when this topic was first suggested by readers of Desert Messenger I stated: "Most of you know that I come from the advertising “side of the room”, as they say. The majority of my career in the newspaper industry has been helping businesses market their service or product. A community thrives and can only grow with strong business support."

At that time several business owners had contacted me complaining their ads were placed in Jennifer Jones' paper, The Desert Freedom Press, without their permission. My suggestion was to direct their complaint to the publisher of that paper. The publisher then proceeded to publicly call me a liar. This began a series of letters written by frustrated members of the community that continues to this day.

In the January 5th editorial I stated, "There have been calls for boycotting her [Jones'] advertisers, however I don’t believe that is a positive solution. Doing so just breeds more anger and discontent within the community, and it hurts our small business owners who are just trying to make a living."

The flier advocating boycotts was written by Hygeia Halfmoon. Her personal opinions do not represent those of the Desert Messenger. 

Boycotts have been around for centuries is an expression of protesting something people feel passionate about. Free speech is every one's right, not just those we agree with. 

Ms. Jones, herself, advocated boycotting a former councilman's business and anyone not supporting her viewpoint. Richard Abbey, of Demand Justice in Quartzsite, told his readers and listeners to pull all their advertising from Desert Messenger. Now, all of a sudden, when Ms. Halfmoon expresses her version of the same activity, people are outraged. Jones published her support for a boycott online and in her paper. Halfmoon distributed fliers advocating the very same actions. I don't agree with either, but the reaction is interesting to notice.

One business owner said people think "Town Hall" was behind the flier. This just shows the level of anger running rampant in our world today, not just in Quartzsite. It's the "Us versus Them" scenario. It's so easy to jump to conclusions, getting caught up in the adrenaline of anger, hate and discontent. Sometimes it's really hard to stop reacting; take a moment, breathe before REACTING, and look at a situation from all sides before RESPONDING. Adrenalin narrows your viewpoint on a situation, making you see fewer options; then folks tend to react using their ingrained habits.

It's easy to clear up rumors. Just go directly to the source and ask! One can say, "I've heard you said (such and such). Is this true? Do you have something to say to me directly?" A few business owners contacted me yesterday, and I commend them. You WILL get better results if asking calmly, rather than out of anger. To create healthy discussion about an issue you might have with a local business owner, or anyone for that matter, try using peaceful communications:

here are some Suggestions for Peaceful Resolutions: 
  1. Speak directly with the decision maker. Employees do not have the power to make changes.
  2. Always introduce yourself, and why you wish to speak.
  3. Notice your tight are your muscles? Can you relax your jaw? Breathe!
  4. Start with a positive statement, creating rapport
  5. Express your opinion in a respectful manner, explaining why you feel the way you do.
  6. Be prepared to state facts calmly to support your position.
  7. Ask open-ended questions to better understand their position. 
  8. Listen...really listen. 
  9. Seek a solution, rather than focus solely on the problem.
  10. Always thank them for their time when leaving.

When we get caught up in the moment, and adrenaline takes over our thoughts, and we just can't think straight. We have to stop in the moment- before we become part of the problem- and do or say something we may later regret. Pause, and breathe. 

There's always some good that comes from a perceived negative. The flier has brought about a lot of discussion in our town. Let's just discuss our differences in a respectful manner.

Shanana Rain Golden-Bear
Publisher, Desert Messenger
Quartzsite's FREE Community Paper


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