Blocksburg's Post Office

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=u1x5rR4mK20]

Kristin Windbigler has just put out a film on the “feasibility” study on whether to close the Blocksburg post office or not. I know its 7 minutes long but watch it anyway for its Humboldt history, its Humboldt views, and its Humboldt humor.  The scene of the attempt to get cell service is so painfully true that you just have to laugh.

Thank you Kristobel for pointing this out.

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11 comments

  • Nicely done Kristin Windbigler! I had a laugh after your math section and following horse excrement photo! Yeah, it doesn’t make sense and I hope you guys get to keep your post office.

  • Classic. Very well done. We are losing our P.O. in Samoa too (likely) one of the true charms of our little town.

  • I went to visit a friend in Blockburg once and the post office was the landmark that was used to wait at. During that hour I spent in downtown Blocksburg I enjoyed watching folks coming by and using the services at the PO. It seems to get a good amount of business

  • I grew up in a rural area that went the opposite direction. We had no Post Office, nor enough people to justify one. My father had a hardware store and the Post Office paid him a modest fee to set up a booth in his store where he could sell stamps, accept packages for shipping and issue money orders. Many years later the community grew large enough to get a real Post Office.

    I currently live in a more rural area. It’s 15 miles to the Bridgeville Post Office. But I also live in a different time. I get very little important mail (almost none) and mail almost nothing (really almost nothing). I almost never need to go to the Post Office to pick up a package. Many fit in my secure lock box and others are placed the larger ‘share boxes’.

    It’s very clear that traditional mail now plays a tiny role compared to just five years ago. There’s not much money being made by selling stamps.

    Forty years ago I visited France. There I saw neighborhoods served by the sort of lockable cluster mail boxes that we are now starting to use. That made so much sense to me, no need for the mail deliverer to walk up to each door. And I saw neighbors standing at the mailboxes talking and the sides of the boxes were being used as community bulletin boards. And driving/walking to those lock boxes was so much closer than going all the way to La Poste to check ones mail.

    I really can understand people not wanting to give up an institution. But I think we need to think hard about the issue.

    Are we willing to dip into our pockets and fund our local post office? Pay for the building and staff with community money. We aren’t buying enough stamps in our rural communities to pay the bills.

    Or is it time to let some of these facilities go and look for another way to facilitate community?

  • Thanks for sharing this, Kym. Kristin’s films are really wonderful. I, too, laughed at the truck driving back-and-forth trying to find the perfect cell spot. SO been there (many times.)

  • Thanks for posting this, Kym! I’d heard about Kristin creating this film and it’s nice to see how well it came out. I’m a rural mail carrier and have delivered on the Blocksburg route many times. It’s not true that mail volume is down to such a great degree- in fact, 2007 was a record year, and volume as a whole has not diminished much since then. People still receive their newspapers, magazines, legal documents, wedding announcements/invitations, bills, bank statements, most parcels, and almost anything else you can think of through the U.S. mail. And regularly pay their bills through return mail service. A higher number of folks than you might think still do exchange personal cards… Perhaps most crucial are the medical shipments received from pharmacies in San Francisco (the hub of services for military vets), Fortuna, Eureka, and Garberville to all of our outlying areas, to people who might not be able to travel for many reasons. UPS and Fed Ex DAILY drop off huge numbers of parcels to U.S. post offices in order for our carriers to deliver on the “last leg” of their journey. I deliver on another SoHum route at present, and most of my business customers ship through us, stating that the price hike to ship through other carriers would just do them in financially. The rural routes operate on a shoestring, as many of the rural offices do. This problem is not about revenue. It’s complex and I probably shouldn’t go into it here. Anyway, my point is that people use the Postal Service as much as ever… more than I think we are being led to believe.

    • 2007 was four years ago. The Post Office recently announced that volume is down 20% over the last four years and volume is expected to continue to decline. Magazine subscriptions are declining, more and more people are doing their financial business over the internet and not through the mail box. I’d say that 90+% of what I find in my mailbox is advertising junk mail and none of the remaining is time sensitive. It’s just hard copies of stuff I’ve already received on line.

      But this piece was not about delivery. It was about the feasibility of small post offices in rural areas. The question is whether we can recreate the service at a lower price.

      It seems to me that we can.

      If volume continues to decline then we may need to address delivery. I wonder how many people, if any, would be hurt by switching to ever other day delivery? Yes, I know delivery people would be, but how many residents/businesses need to get that magazine/statement/whatever on Tuesday rather than Wednesday?

      Cutting back on unneeded post offices and unnecessary delivery dates would lower the cost of mailing which would make the US Mail an even better bargain.

  • Volume of mail has everything to do with the continuing feasibility of running small post offices. The new financial challenges have do to, mostly, with the $5,000,000. bond the U.S.P.S. has been obligated to pay… in order to fund the upcoming retirement of future employees who have yet to be born. The Blocksburg P.O. runs on a very small budget, as do all rural offices. Oh… and many people in outlying areas of Humboldt/Mendo counties already receive mail every other day, due to the immense distances covered on some routes. And these folks do a considerable amount of bill-paying, magazinenewspaper subscribing through the USPS. The majority of small businesses here do all of their shipping through USPS. Period.

  • That the majority of small businesses do all their shipping through the USPS, I question.

    I see the UPS signs out for businesses like Simmon’s Soap. I see the UPS and FedEx trucks running their routes. I’m not doubting that the UPSP does shipping, I prefer getting my packages through the Post Office since none of the three delivery systems will deliver to my door and with the USPS I have a locked box for all but the largest shipments.

    That said, delivery and maintaining post office buildings are two different issues.

    The role of the Post Office is changing. We’re not going to return to snail mail and getting the majority of our reading material from printed material. I used to subscribe to a dozen magazines (I set a personal limit) but over a few years I let all subscriptions lapse because what arrived in my mailbox was stale news and information. I had already read it on line.

    (I just got my first e-reader. I’m not going to be buying many more books in paper form.)

    Let’s rethink our mail service. Especially those of us who live in remote/rural areas. How can we get the functionality we want and need for less money?

  • Great Video! I enjoyed the whole thing

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