Superstition ARC View From The Top Of The Tower

For February 2020 By Andy, KD4ABB

The view from the top of the tower this month is absolutely beautiful. The sky is clear, the sun is out, the temperatures are perfect for getting outdoors, and the valley is full of visitors who have flocked to ‘the valley of the sun’ to enjoy our weather. This is the best time of the year for us as hams to get out and experiment with our antennas. This is also the time of year when we are most likely to interact with our neighbors as many of them are out working in their yards, playing with their kids, or just enjoying the temperate weather. That also makes this the perfect time of year for us to get to know our neighbors better.
It should come as no surprise to many of you that not everyone shares in our belief that amateur radio operators are valuable members of the community who should be allowed to practice their hobby, so they can be prepared to respond to a crisis situation. In fact many people look upon our hobby with such disdain that they have fought to enact rules to keep us out of their neighborhoods. This breaks my heart. I ask myself how many irresponsible hams it took to create such widespread disdain. Then, I ask myself what it would take to change people’s minds. What could I do for my neighbors for them to believe that their house was more valuable because they live next door to me?

Many of you I assume are of an age to remember watching the Andy Griffith Show. Sherriff Andy Taylor was the sheriff who maintained law and order in a small N.C. town without ever carrying a gun. He did it by gaining respect from the town’s folk by being a friend to everyone. There was almost nothing Sheriff Taylor wouldn’t do for his neighbors. Do you think his neighbors would value their homes more or less valuable because they lived next door to someone who might leave his house in the middle of the night with lights and sirens blaring? Most likely not, in fact they would probably say you could not have a better neighbor than Andy Taylor. He is friendly and would help you with anything if he could.
One comment I have heard from residents who live in HOA controlled neighborhoods, is that the HOA rules are there to protect the value of homeowner’s homes. Well, there is a whole lot that goes in to the value of a home (pun intended). Having a neighbor who is friendly and says hello even when they might not feel like being social, or offers to help you with your yard work, or checks on you when you’re sick, or puts out your trash cans when you forget, or offers to drive you to the store when your car is broke, are all things that add value significant to where you call home. I think part of the problem of disdain for hams many people have is that we have for too long ignored the skill of being exemplary great neighbors to those who live around us
What kind of neighbor would you have to be for your neighbor to say, “Sure, I’d be happy to let you use one of the trees in my yard to hang your wire antenna” ? Or perhaps let me ask the question another way, what kind of neighbor would your next door neighbor have to be for you to say, “Sure, I don’t mind if you park your RV in front of my house for a week while your relatives are in town”? Here is a really good one: “Sure, I don’t mind if your child’s rock band practices in your garage for an hour three days a week.”

I think another aspect of having our neighbor’s value us as hams is to know and appreciate our ability to help in crisis situations. Now, we can regurgitate all the talking points we read about in our ham radio literature, but for most people seeing is believing. Have your neighbors ever seen you participating in a public service drill or event? Do your neighbors really believe that you could get a message out to the authorities or their family if the electric grid and internet ever went down? I mean if you believed your next door neighbor had some really valuable skill or ability you might be willing to overlook a couple of their short comings too.
It is important for us not only to be ready to respond in a crisis, but for our neighbors to see us serving others when there aren’t any crises present.

This month as I share my view from up here, I ask you to ask yourself the questions above, and then go be THAT NEIGHBOOR to your neighborhood and see how it advances our amateur radio hobby.

Best Wishes, 73
Andy Keels, KD4ABB
President Superstition Amateur Radio Club