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Clarkson Professor Publishes Book On Disaster And Community

[A photo of Stephen Doheny-Farina for newspaper use is available at]

Potsdam, N.Y. – Disaster on a large scale has been on everyone’s minds lately, with the September 11 attacks precipitating grief, fear and anger throughout the United States. But not only did those events induce stressful responses, they have also shown communities pulling together in the face of overwhelming trauma.doheny-farina

Stephen Doheny-Farina, professor of technical communications at Clarkson University, observed this same reaction on a smaller scale in 1998, as a vast stretch of the Northeast drew together after a massive ice storm wiped out the power grid for three million people and isolated the region’s residents from their usual network of electronic communications.

In his recently published book, The Grid and the Village: Losing Electricity, Finding Communities, Surviving Disaster (ISBN 0-300-08977-5,Yale University Press, 240 pp., $26.95), he chronicles the story of Potsdam, New York, during the ice storm in January 1998 that knocked out power grids for more than two weeks in New York, New England and eastern Canada. Doheny-Farina examines how the community, when faced with the loss of electronic communications on which we have come to depend as a society, rediscovered face-to-face interaction and renewed the bonds of neighborhoods. Publisher’s Weekly says, “Whether he is writing about the power grids that connect and illuminate our homes, the media and telecommunications webs that on any given news day put us all on the same page, or the social connections of family and neighborhood we rely on for support, Doheny-Farina (The Wired Neighborhood) provokes a startling awareness, or as he terms it, a ‘mindfulness,’ of what we have and how easily it can all be lost or regained, either through complacency or abrupt disaster.”

Doheny-Farina’s previous writing, in particular The Wired Neighborhood (Yale, 1998), focuses on the nature of communication – and community – on the Internet. This current book steps beyond that realm to look at what happens to a physical community when it is disconnected from electronic communications.

Publisher’s Weekly says, “On its most basic level, this is Doheny-Farina's account of how that disaster [the ice storm] changed him, his family and his neighbors in his hometown of Potsdam, N.Y., of 23 days without the power and communications grids we all take for granted and ‘the emergence of a community that filled the resulting void.’”

[News directors and editors: For more information, contact Annie Harrison, Director of Media Relations, at 315-268-6764 or]

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