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Oak Ridge Reservation

Oak Ridge Reservation: Communications & Outreach Work Group

Historical Document

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Communications and Outreach Work Group

October 15, 2003 - Meeting Minutes


Members attending:
James Lewis (Chair), Kowetha Davidson, Karen Galloway, David Johnson, and Susan Kaplan

ATSDR Staff attending:
Subha Chandar (phone), Melissa Fish, Theresa NeSmith (phone), Marilyn Palmer (phone), Terrie Sterling (phone), and Bill Taylor


James Lewis called the meeting to order.

The purpose of the meeting was to (1) discuss guidelines for developing minutes, (2) talk about making the database searchable for the public, (3) identify methods to capture and address various factional divisions that may negatively affect the organizational climate of ORRHES, (4) discuss combining the COWG and Needs Assessment Work Group (NAWG), (5) review the relationship between packaging science and health-risk communication, and (6) discuss issues pertaining to community concerns.

Guidelines for Developing Minutes

Karen Galloway introduced this topic by stating that there have been three different opinions on writing meeting minutes: one was from ATSDR, one was from the Oak Ridge office, and one was from Bill Pardue (when ORRHES began). The COWG was intending to merge these opinions, comments, and issues into one applicable document that could be applied to all meetings. Ms. Galloway presented some documents to the group and noted two corrections. She added that these guidelines were not very different from Bill Pardue's procedures. She noted that his guidelines had addressed the PHAWG and that these were for all work groups.

Karen Galloway said that there were three situations where changes would need to be made to the minutes: (1) typographical corrections to drafts, (2) amendments to corrected comments, and (3) additions to clarify comments. Minutes would stay as they had been drafted, unless they contained "glaring" errors. In regards to these three issues, the changes or corrections would be added to the end of the minutes as footnotes or attachments; they would not be inserted within the body of the minutes. Hence, the original minutes would stay intact.

James Lewis thought that this was an excellent step in the right direction and in the key areas that needed focus. David Johnson stated that these ideas captured the concerns and provided a foundation for future building of the minutes.

James Lewis asked Karen Galloway if she would read the background of the guidelines. She read that quality meeting minutes were critical to any operational organization. These meetings may deal with technical issues and may involve high emotional content. In addition, there will be wide areas of interest and people from diverse backgrounds. Effective meeting minutes may be used to: (1) review past activities and actions, (2) document issues and concerns already addressed, (3) measure group productivity and participation, (4) gauge leadership within a group, (5) identify individual efforts, and (6) acquire an overall insight into the group. According to Ms. Galloway, these minutes are critical for people who are just joining, for agency management, for ORRHES leadership, and for longstanding members. The key is to maintain a high level of integrity. She added that the minutes should always be complete and objective.

James Lewis thought that these guidelines should have been the first thing that was put into place. He added that many concerns for the database come from the minutes. A meeting participant noted that some people fear coming to these meetings because they are afraid that they will be mis-quoted in the minutes and that having these guidelines was a good step.

Karen Galloway believed that the minutes should abbreviate, but highlight the major discussion points. She added that many of the community concerns would come from these minutes. James Lewis noted that sometimes people are hurt when they bring up issues and the issues are not recorded.

Susan Kaplan asked if the database was searchable, for instance for East Fork Poplar Creek (EFPC). Bill Taylor replied that the database was not searchable in this manner. James Lewis said that they already talked about having this done. Ms. Kaplan mentioned that it was very important to have "searchability." Mr. Lewis commented that this is a tool that has been missing and that it should have been in place in the beginning. Marilyn Palmer said that ATSDR was going to try and have ERG, Inc. set up a cross-indexing system. However, she did not think that it would have a search engine. Dr. Taylor added that it would have certain topics that could be opened and allow people to go to different links. Ms. Palmer said that the group could make a recommendation for this type of searching system. Ms. Kaplan made a motion that the COWG submit a recommendation to ORRHES that they have a search engine for the ORRHES website. The motion was seconded by David Johnson.

Bill Taylor noted that if this were a recommendation to the agency, then it would be brought to ORRHES. Susan Kaplan asked if they should just keep it among the work group, since it applied to work groups. Dr. Taylor said that it would ultimately be a recommendation to the agency. However, David Johnson said that since he had already seconded the motion, it should be kept. The recommendation remained.

ORRHES Organizational Climate

James Lewis said that they would identify methods to capture and address various factional divisions that may be negatively affecting the ORRHES organizational climate. He noted this in regards to meeting minutes, perceptions of arrogance, and perceptions of the chair's continuing support of ATSDR. In reference to meeting minutes, Mr. Lewis hoped that they became better organized. He felt that the issue would be fine if ATSDR could supply its support. David Johnson commented that it was imperative that the note-taker be objective and look at the complete picture.

James Lewis referred to an e-mail that had been sent by Karen Galloway, which voiced the "flavor" of what people perceive as arrogance. According to Mr. Lewis, Ms. Galloway flagged the fact that they may hurt individuals' feelings and that these people may not come back. Mr. Lewis thought that the e-mail should be circulated to the subcommittee. Susan Kaplan added that if the minutes were searchable, then frustration would not happen on both sides. Bill Taylor asked if the e-mail could be submitted to ORRHES. Ms. Galloway wanted to review the paper first and change some items before submittal.

James Lewis presented a diagram on communication strategies. It had a vertical line for "content control," a horizontal line for "audience involvement," and a diagonal line for "tell, sell, consult, and join." He explained that the "tell" mode was high content and low audience involvement. Susan Kaplan indicated that this had a lot to do with time and resources because you can "tell" faster than "join."

James Lewis also showed a presentation skills chart. He categorized things that were needed for small groups: facilitation skills, audience centering, handwritten overheads, and customer-relevant visuals. Karen Galloway and Mr. Lewis explained a meeting where James Lewis' wife had come to facilitate a meeting; Ms. Galloway noted that this was one of the most effective meetings she had been to. Mr. Lewis said that they needed this type of facilitation and structure at meetings. He thought that someone involved in the community would be best to come and help.

James Lewis commented on how Kowetha Davidson handles situations with ATSDR. He said that she does not publicly confront or challenge the agency if something does not please her. Instead, she lets the agency know privately. Susan Kaplan stated that Dr. Davidson needed to be careful because she often defends ATSDR in public. David Johnson said that they should not fault Dr. Davidson for her actions. He thought that sometimes her neutrality could be perceived as bias. He said that they needed to bring this out, "Are you pro or con?" If she is neutral, then she needs to make that clear too.

James Lewis said that everyone is different in his or her approach. He said that sometimes at meetings, people are talking about things that do not seem to add anything to the group and that this can wear out attention spans. He said that they needed someone who could look at the agenda. Bill Taylor noted that this was a useful discussion and that agendas have filled up quickly. He mentioned that as members they needed to consider what they wanted. Do they want more speakers or more business? If they are not accomplishing what they should be, then they need to now and bring this up during an agenda meeting or write it as an agenda item.

James Lewis said that when they bring in "talent," they needed to try and adjust the agenda for the audience. Bill Taylor said that this depended on what kind of meeting they wanted. He noted that there are other ways to explore public meetings. Susan Kaplan thought that Hanford did something different. Marilyn Palmer replied that Hanford was a less active community than Oak Ridge. They conducted their business before lunch on the first day, and then there were four work group meetings after lunch, which only lasted for two hours. In addition, the groups in Hanford only met twice a year.

Work Group Name Change

James Lewis explained that it had been indicated that merging the COWG and NAWG could be beneficial from an economic standpoint. Also, members were looking at the duplication of people going to different meetings and the workload did not seem to be that great. Mr. Lewis noted that there were issues in the community between work groups, among work groups, and with ORRHES. He thought they needed to resolve these issues so that they were not in conflict. Kowetha Davidson said that they would need to remove the section from the bylaws rather than changing the name. This would need to go to the subcommittee, as would a joining of the two groups. Bill Taylor agreed with Dr. Davidson that combining the groups may or may not be practical. He said that they needed to look at the NAWG and COWG to see if it was reasonable and practical.

James Lewis mentioned that Karen Galloway had shared some thoughts with him, which she expressed to the group. She had wondered how they would relate to the community if they removed the NAWG. She was concerned that the needs of the community were never put in a form to be handled effectively. Ms. Galloway told the COWG that focus groups had never happened in a meaningful way. She explained that she was from Bradbury, which she believed was one of the more prominent areas that related to concerns. She said that the people there were different than those who come to the meetings; they were not the type to come to a public meeting and "try to place blame on others." Ms. Galloway said that even though these people would not have participated in the focus groups, they still needed to be reached because their needs were never considered or documented.

Based on the NAWG meeting, Susan Kaplan thought that the agency had decided that the needs assessment was a "done deal." She wanted to know how this could be over if they had not accomplished what they had set out to do. Terrie Sterling replied that these were legitimate concerns that ATSDR needed to hear and address. She explained that the needs assessment document was not done "sufficiently well" in order to base a health education and health promotion effort on it. She said that this did not mean that ATSDR was not going to work with the community to determine a way to capture community concerns and needs that have to be addressed. Instead, ATSDR was saying that it would not be going back to George Washington University (GWU). Ms. Sterling added that they needed to figure out how to move forward from here and determine the concerns of the communities today and the groups who were not at these meetings. She said that part of the work of this outgrowth of NAWG would be evolving into the new work group.

David Johnson asked Terrie Sterling if she had taken into consideration that they had high expectations of the needs assessment. He added that the rural community has integrity and that they will take you at "faith value" for what you say and what you say you are going to do. He said that they needed to come up with a strategic plan to "regain trust and faith." Ms. Sterling said that it was clear that past actions had been damaging and that ATSDR was going to "hang in there" and listen to the community and be honest with them.

James Lewis brought up the point that there was a difference between an action plan and a recovery plan. He said that they needed a recovery plan so that people could understand what has happened.

Kowetha Davidson wanted to comment on the communities. She said that people in outlying communities do not know who they are and that they cannot get these people to participate if they are unknown. James Lewis commented that he had asked Lorine Spencer for copies of some press releases. He thought that they were "so bland" that they would not be able to draw anyone to participate. He said that they needed to look at suggestions that have already been made for getting issues out there (e.g., calendar). Dr. Davidson said that they needed to follow through and get the message out about what they are doing.

James Lewis thought they needed to think about the audience who they were trying to reach when they put out an agenda. Susan Kaplan suggested taking out an advertisement with the ORRHES website link that could connect to an expanded agenda. David Johnson thought that they needed to define the public that they were trying to reach with an agenda. It needed to be "people-friendly." He suggested getting the general public, including children, to buy into their agenda.

Relationship Between Packaging Science and Health-Risk Communication

James Lewis stated that they would review the relationship between Henry Falk's concept of packaging science and Tim Joseph's paper on health-risk communication. Mr. Lewis mentioned that Dr. Joseph had shown how the packaged science for children worked very well. He thought that there was not any synergism between the Community Involvement Branch (CIB), the Division of Health Education and Promotion (DHEP), and other departments. He presented a slide that he had shared with DHEP. He explained that health education runs through three major categories. He noted that he had not found any information on how to address the "no apparent public health hazard." He would like to see a combination of resources in order to get the information out and have people understand it. He thought that they should consider circulating Dr. Joseph's paper. Karen Galloway was very impressed with Dr. Joseph's paper. She noted that it is not a matter of how much knowledge certain people have, instead it is the need to present information in a way for all people to understand it. She said that some presentations can come off as cold, hard, and too technical, which is "exactly" how you lose participation and involvement. Ms. Galloway thought that people might have the impression that she is "anti-technical," which is not true. She feels that they should be addressing everyone in their audience, not just the technical people.

Bill Taylor noted that they do not have to address all of the audience at all times. For instance, ORRHES has meetings that contain presentations, whereas public health assessments (PHAs) are reports. He explained that you would model the type of outreach for the audience depending on what type of product was involved (e.g., PHA, presentation). He added that ATSDR and COWG had to identify the products that needed outreach.

Issues Related to Community Concerns

James Lewis said that the database needed to capture the concerns and issues when they come out and that they needed to be documented. Mr. Lewis said that he had not seen anything that showed these issues or the responses.

In addition, James Lewis explained that they would be getting ready to hear from Dee Williamson (ATSDR) on the cancer data. He thought that this was the "heart of issues here."

Susan Kaplan said that they needed to be prepared to answer questions related to rare cancers versus the list of top ten cancers, and explain how the region looks in regards to these rates. Bill Taylor replied that they would look at all of the cancers in the database for this cancer incidence review. Kowetha Davidson said that there were "twenty-some" different cancers that Dee Williamson had mentioned. Dr. Taylor explained that there is also a column called "other" that they would not be using because it is a "catchall" for everything and the numbers do not mean anything.

David Johnson asked if it was politically correct to invite someone from the National Cancer Society (NCS) to the meeting. Bill Taylor said that NCS uses national data. Mr. Johnson noted that they could download the data and then compare it to the region; thus, giving a sense of credibility to their efforts. Dr. Taylor was not sure that these could be compared.

Additional Discussion

Bill Taylor asked the group what they wanted an ORRHES meeting to accomplish. He said that it could be many different things and that there were different ways of thinking about the information. David Johnson thought they should define the population. Kowetha Davidson wanted to ensure that a 3-hour presentation was not slotted for a 1-hour time period.

James Lewis added that Don Box had volunteered to have an interaction with his church. He wanted a team to meet with his minister to see how they could reach the people in his church.

In addition, Kowetha Davidson said that her sorority was thinking of having a health fair, which would be another way of getting the message out to the community. She said that they could have a booth there and pass out information.

Agenda Items:

  • ATSDR will investigate installing a search engine for the ORRHES website.
  • James Lewis will look into the cancer issue and find out what DHEP's role is to be.

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