What is going on with Three Rivers Together?

As you may have noticed, Three Rivers Together has been silent for several days.

The Three Rivers Together service is designed to be a community-based announcement system that simply relays announcements, updates, and events from community and government organizations. It is intended to help all of us who don’t rely on social media for our information. This includes the hundreds of us who don’t participate in social media at all, as well as those of us who don’t get the information we need from social media. After all, social media is not designed to deliver important information to communities. Social media is instead designed to deliver posts and ads that algorithms have determined to be “relevant” and most likely to increase company profits. And social media is not designed to deliver important information in a timely manner.

The Three Rivers Together service launched on January 10th with the first of our serious storms. Initially, the Tulare County Office of Emergency Services provided announcements, as did Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks and several community organizations. Supervisor Eddie Valero authorized funds to be released to the Three Rivers Bread Basket to pay for the technology on which the service runs.

As the weeks passed, however, government organizations began to rely almost exclusively on Facebook and Twitter to communicate with the community. Accordingly, two Three Rivers Together volunteers had to spend several hours each day scanning social media for important announcements and calling government agencies in an effort to get important information that wasn’t shared on social media, was so hidden we couldn’t find it, or was of questionable accuracy.

I was one of those volunteers, and I had to take time off from my work to do this during the height of storm preparation, response, and recovery. Realizing that this model is not sustainable, we quit scanning social media some days ago. At the same time, the company that owns the email service technology raised its prices and the funds authorized by Supervisor Valero had not materialized.

Hence the silence.

So what is the future of the Three Rivers Together service?

If it has indeed been useful to the community, the service can continue if…

  1. we can convince government and community organizations to email information directly to the service (info@3rtogether.org) as some did initially,
  2. we can get volunteers to spend hours per day on social media and calling government organizations for information, and
  3. we can raise the funds (or get it from the county) to pay for the technology on which the service is based.

There are other options as well, of course.

I encourage all of us to chat on the phone, via email, on social media, and in person to brainstorm ideas. I encourage all the community organizations that represent the varied interests of Three Rivers to work together to help formulate a solution.

If an email and web-based communications service is useful to the community, the community is more than capable of working together to make such a service viable.


Full-time historical archaeologist

Volunteer project coordinator and webmaster, Three Rivers Together