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The Cause: Post Office Closings Opponent Nichole Hastings

Nichole Hastings of Norwich on a section of the Appalachian Trail in Glencliff, N.H., just a short walk to the Glencliff Post Office. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap)

Nichole Hastings of Norwich on a section of the Appalachian Trail in Glencliff, N.H., just a short walk to the Glencliff Post Office. (Valley News - Sarah Priestap) Purchase photo reprints »

The Woman: Nichole Hastings, 34, of Norwich.

The Cause: Keeping area post offices open, especially those bordering the Appalachian Trail.

The Means: Educating members of the Appalachian Trail Conservancy about how hikers would be affected by closings; leafleting; picketing; and encouraging local residents to contact their legislators.

The Impetus: When Hastings, who works for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy and with the Dartmouth Outing Club, heard about proposed closings of rural post offices and processing centers in Vermont and New Hampshire, she realized this would cut off a lifeline of communication and support not only for local residents but also for through-hikers on the Appalachian Trial, who send gear and supplies to post offices along their route.

The Glencliff (N.H.) post office (which was originally targeted for closing but now will be open for fewer hours) is one of the few as you get up to this part of the trail that is actually not that far off the trail; you can easily access it. As you head from Vermont to New Hampshire into Maine, the post offices become farther and fewer between. They’re important, because as a hiker, you’ll be wanting to mail your packages ahead of time. Most through-hikers plan out their trip and where their mail drops will be sent to, and so what ends up happening, this (potential closing) really limits the choices of where they can go and resupply.

It is exciting to see (post offices being kept open). To see our words and hopes for postal service reform being spoken by Bernie Sanders and coalescing into a new reality makes me smile. ...

The Senate passed the postal reform bill, and it’s interesting to see what is happening as a result. The bill is still subject to a vote in the House and in spite of the victory in the Senate, that was one small step in reaching the summit of Mt. Katahdin, to put it in hiker terminology. The decreased hours and closure of many other rural post offices and processing and distribution centers remains an issue ... .

Many of us are still advocating, educating and planning to take action to let people know that the post offices have not been really saved. The current plan will simply stall the closures unless real measures are put in place to revamp the postal system and have it be viable.

I think the best thing people can do with this issue is to think about it. Stop and think about the issue, and maybe do some research to find out more. But to take an active interest in something that is going to affect every single person that lives in this country. Also ask why is this happening. Maybe start writing to their members in Congress, and finding out how they can be more involved.

Photograph and interview by Sarah Priestap

Published in print on June 24, 2012.

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