The Gowanus CAG Outreach Committee met on Thursday, April 14, 2016, with discussion focused on continuing development of the CAG’s Communications Plan.
CAG members present: Stefan Doerring, Katia Kelly, Eric McClure, Maryann Young.
Guests: Terri Thomson, National Grid
Review of Outstanding Action Items
The group reviewed the action items from the March meeting. Eric McClure reported that he wasn’t able to reach a solution for including a Google Alert-based RSS feed on the CAG home page, but that Josh Skaller, who created the website, believes it would be relatively easy to do and is willing to help with that. Josh also is willing to update the “Join the CAG” form that’s linked from the home page, and Eric will send him the full form so that he can revise the form on the site.
Eric reported that he had posted the Land Use Committee resolution on CSO tank siting approved at the March CAG meeting to the website, but had not received the Water Quality/Technical Committee resolution requesting that the EPA establish a comment period once a decision is made on the location of the tanks. Maryann responded that she had sent the resolution to Doug Sarno, and shared it via email with Eric (it has subsequently been posted to the website).
The Outreach Committee identified several items to bring to the full CAG for approval at the April general meeting.
Based on discussions at the Committee level and at the full CAG, Outreach will recommend that the CAG Google Group (https://groups.google.com/forum/#!forum/gowanuscag) be reactivated. The Google Group will provide a searchable repository for all CAG email correspondence, and will allow members to receive all messages as they are generated, or a daily digest of email correspondence. Once the full CAG approves use of the Google Group, Outreach will send invitations to join the Group to all active CAG members.
Eric reported that he had successfully registered the Twitter handle @GowanusCAG, and the Committee agreed to ask for approval at the April general meeting to begin using it to push out information available on the CAG website, such as meeting dates and times, links to web posts and CAG news.
The Committee also agreed to seek permission from the full CAG at the April meeting to post a link to the EPA’s Gowanus Superfund Facebook page (www.facebook.com/groups/195975002808/) on the CAG’s home page. The link would include a disclaimer that the information posted to the EPA’s Facebook page does not necessarily represent the views of the CAG. Eric will draft and circulate proposed disclaimer language.
Proposed disclaimer language: “The contents of [the EPA’s Gowanus Canal Facebook Group/the Gowanus Canal CAG YouTube page/the articles included in this news feed] are provided for informational purposes and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group. We make no representations as to the accuracy of the information presented.”
Additionally, the Committee agreed to ask the full CAG at the April meeting to approve adding a link on the home page to the CAG’s YouTube page (www.youtube.com/user/GowanusCanalCAG). That link would also include a disclaimer about the content of video posted to the website. The Committee also agreed that any videos posted to the YouTube page should include a video supertitle at the beginning of each video with the disclaimer language.
Maryann reminded the Committee that alternates of Outreach Committee organizational members should be added to the Committee’s email list. Eric said he would make sure that future group emails included alternates.
The Committee agreed to table discussion of a quarterly CAG email newsletter until the May Committee meeting. Eric also agreed to revisit adding a short form on the home page by which people could sign up for CAG emails and announcements.
Discussion of Invitation to Table at EXPO Gowanus and Handling of In-Person CAG Outreach
The Committee discussed the invitation from Christine Petro and the Gowanus Canal Conservancy to staff a table at EXPO Gowanus on Saturday, May 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. (more info here: gowanuscanalconservancy.org).
There was an extended discussion about who would staff the table and ensuring that any information conveyed by representatives of the CAG solely reflect the CAG’s point of view, but in the end, the Committee reached general agreement that whichever CAG members might be available to do that type of outreach on the CAG’s behalf could share the CAG’s cleanup timeline one-pager, have a sign-up sheet for the email list, and could distribute any materials that the EPA might have available. In addition, Katia Kelly suggested that Outreach could create a simple postcard to communicate key top-line information about the CAG: mission statement, website URL, and information about meetings. The Committee agreed unanimously that this was a good idea, and Katia agreed to create a draft and circulate it. Our supposition is that a postcard could be funded through Doug Sarno’s facilitation fees.
Sabine Aronowsky (who could not attend the meeting due to a work conflict) reported prior to the meeting that the Gowanus Grind, a neighborhood event sponsored by the Friends of Douglass Greene Park, is taking place on Saturday, April 23, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. While the Gowanus Grind seems like a good opportunity for outreach, none of the Committee members present would be able to represent the CAG at the event.
The Committee discussed the draft Settlement Agreement reached between the EPA and New York City regarding siting of CSO retention tanks intended to reduce the flow of waste and storm water into the canal, with a focus on how the CAG might develop a mechanism for responding quickly to such news in the future. There was some disagreement as to how or whether that should happen, but Eric suggested that having to wait for full CAG approval at a general meeting would hamper the CAG’s effectiveness, and that there may be a way to craft a press release using already-approved CAG resolutions or statements to issue rapid responses to such events. He offered to draft and circulate a prototype press release using the CSO Retention Tank Settlement Agreement as the basis for it, and the Committee agreed that it would review and comment upon his draft.
Propose for Approval by Full CAG at April Meeting:
- Reactivation and adoption of the CAG Google Group
- Implementation and use of the @GowanusCAG Twitter account for disseminating website content
- Inclusion on the CAG home page of a link to the EPA’s Gowanus Canal Facebook Group (with disclaimer)
- Inclusion on the CAG home page of a link to the CAG’s YouTube page (with disclaimer)
Next Outreach Committee meeting: Friday, May 14, 8:30 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., at the Fifth Avenue Committee, 621 Degraw Street, in Conference Room A on the second floor.