The effectiveness of the Mormon Network

Here in the Denver area, we are in the middle of what may turn out to be the heaviest snow storm of the entire winter. We’ve got drifts 2-3′ deep on our back deck, and our driveway (which is about 150-200 yards long) is covered with thick, heavy, wet snow (the worst kind to use a snow blower on). And it’s still coming down.

Stake Conference for our stake is scheduled for this weekend, and there was to be a Stake Priesthood Leadership meeting at 4 pm today, with the Adult Session of Stake Conference at 7 pm. Both have been canceled. How do I know? Well, so far, Sandra and I have received five (5) phone calls to that effect:

  • from the Stake Choir director (Sandra and I are in the Stake Choir)
  • from the Stake Music director (I’m also in a group of men who were to sing at the Priesthood session)
  • from our ward executive secretary (I’m a member of the PEC)
  • from a member of my high priests group leadership (I’m a high priest)
  • from one of my wife’s visiting teaching supervisor (My wife is in the Relief Society, natch)

From a communications network point of view, the redundancy is very impressive; I strongly suspect that everyone in our ward who can be reached by phone and who is likely to have attended these meetings has indeed been contacted. My impulse after the first call was to phone my own home teaching families, but since they are (a) the bishop and (b) the ward clerk, I figured they already knew and were busy with their own calls.  ..bruce..

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8 thoughts on “The effectiveness of the Mormon Network

  1. I think I may get even more such contacts on days when the chapel furnace is out — I don’t have a telephone, so everybody who thinks of me at all thinks I might be overlooked. I get a flood of emails and a blizzard of notes left on my door.

    I wonder if the response would be as good if, instead of canceling a meeting, the stake president wanted to call an unscheduled meeting? /g/

    That’s a fun bit of lived Mormonism, bruce.

  2. Lol. Last time we were cancelled (about 5 years ago), that’s about how many calls we got. The last was from the bishop in his office, who was personally calling down the ward list to make sure nobody was missed (he was the micromanaging type). My husband asked him if we could have the sacrament at home, and bishop said go ahead. So our high priest conducted, priest blessed, and teacher passed. Had a couple of hymns and the then 7 year old gave a talk.

    But as for today’s supposed snowstorm in the Denver area… what snow storm? I see zero snow here. (35 miles north of Denver). I think people are exaggerating.

    (not really. I got sent home from work yesterday… I work in Boulder. What a difference 16 miles and 400 feet lower elevation make!)

  3. You folks up north seem to be getting mostly rain. Down here in Parker, it’s been snow, and heavy snow, for over 24 hours. It really is the single biggest snowfall we’ve had here at the house all winter (we’re in the famous “Douglas County above 6000 feet”, “south and east of the Metro area” category). Almost all of the other predicted major snowstorms this winter have fizzled.

    My son, Jon, who’s visiting us on leave (he’s in the Marines), has been chafing to leave for two days now, but I-70 and I-80 have both been closed since yesterday morning. However, I-70 has opened up again this afternoon, so for the last two hours, he’s been out using the snowblower to clear a path down the driveway. Better him than me; I was planning to simply wait for the sun to melt it. ..bruce..

    [OK, technically, I-70 wasn't closed yesterday, but they were requiring chains, snow tires, or 4-wheel drive on all vehicles for one westward stretch, and Jon -- who's up from San Diego -- didn't have any of the above.]

  4. Which direction does your brother need to go?

    My husband and son left for Rexburg at 4:55 this morning. (Summer semester starts Monday.) They arrived there at about 3:15. They took 287 up to Laramie, bypassing Laramie Pass and the closed segment of I-80. So if your brother’s going west, I know he can go up via 287.

  5. S’ok, I knew what you meant. Since he was headed for Spanish Fork and since both routes were open, he took I-70. I trust he’s doing OK, but I’ll worry until I hear from him in the morning. ..bruce..

  6. What’s interesting about this is that I, too, like this redundancy. My wife and I joke about it, but the fact that everyone gets 5 calls is something pretty special. While it may be viewed as inefficient by those on the outside, in a very “heavenly order” sort of way, it makes up for the inadequacies of man, making sure that everyone is contacted. Efficiency is sacrificed for accuracy. I am sure there is a parable in there somewhere…

    As a seminary teacher, sometimes seminary gets canceled, too. But parents and students are less likely to want to be called once for every child they may have in seminary at 5 in the morning. Some are even angered by it. -sigh-

  7. Robert Silverberg wrote a novel ~30 years ago called “Shadrack in the Furnace”. A key phrase in the novel was, “Redundancy is the key to survival.” The redundancy in intra-ward communications is important in emergency settings, since you don’t know ahead of time what links may be broken. In the case above, pretty much everyone was snow-bound and the phones were working, so there was a high success rate.

    But that’s not always the case; when we went through the Loma Prieta quake in 1989 (living in the Santa Cruz mountains about 3 miles from the epicenter), power was out for about 24 hours, some roads were blocked due to landslides, and phone service was iffy (due to the sheer volume of calls coming in from outside the region). There was a struggle to track down all the ward members, ensure they were OK, and see what help they were going to need.

    When we lived in Washington DC, I ended up in the bishopric and had emergency preparedness responsibility (post-9/11). Since we faced the very real risk of terrorist incidents and attacks within our ward boundaries (which covered everything north of the Mall and west of the White House, including the World Bank, the State Department, the Vice-President’s residence, many US government agencies, and most foreign embassies), we had to consider situations where members might have to flee their houses, possibly on foot. We identified gathering spots both within the ward and outside of the District itself; I believe the stake also had an emergency dial-in number, so that members could call to leave information about their status and location.

    So, yes, I’m also comforted by the redundancy. It means that in the case of a real emergency, messages are likely to get through. ..bruce..

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