Portland participants were somehow more energized on the second day of the forum than they were on the first day, which allowed our final forum of 2013 to end on a lively note this past Thursday. Participants fully engaged in the sector and state discussions and reported back to the group with sincerity and a refreshing level of humor. During one group activity, the museum sector demonstrated their commitment to advancing communication not only within their sector but across sectors by each signing their names on the Post-Its seen below.
Participants seemed eager to move forward with their respective state plans to foster communication, coordination, and collaboration among their fellow state agencies. One participant commented on our forum evaluation that his/her state colleagues, “already have plans underway to meet — invitations went out today, the day after the forum.”
Our second forum was held in St. Louis a few weeks ago and it was just as lively as our Philadelphia forum. It was wonderful to have representation from a number of very enthusiastic emergency managers who now seem determined to incorporate cultural heritage into their state emergency plans.
These forums offer a space where state emergency managers are brought into contact with state cultural stewards, and it was clear from our discussions that each group often knows little about what the other does. Feedback from the forums has made it clear that our goal of fostering new and lasting relationships between these two groups is welcome and necessary:
“I was just so thrilled to meet folks from the Emergency Management part of the spectrum even if they were from other states. Not only did I get their perspective on priorities, but I could put some human faces to that aspect of the mix. I saw them as very involved, caring people. I think the mixing of tables was crucial to broadening (and narrowing!) perspective.”
The best part of my forum experience was “understanding what the library, museum and arts contribute to the well-being of the state–both financially and culturally.”
“I thought having Emergency Management people together with cultural resource people was a great idea. I wouldn’t have guessed we’d be so lacking in knowledge about the other group and what they do. This meeting certainly helped bridge that knowledge gap.”
“Just bringing us all together. The conference was a great excuse to do what we should have been doing at home.”
Last week we held our first forum in Philadelphia, where state cultural stewards and their respective state emergency managers met, many for the first time. Participants seemed to embrace the more informal design of the forum, which resulted in lively and enlightening discussion. Participants were asked what the best part of their forum experience was, and here are some of their responses:
“Just talking and listening to others and gaining knowledge from their experiences. And that I was not alone…we all have funding and personnel shortages, but are still moving forward with disaster planning.”
“Group discussions and exercises. During these sessions we identified we are more alike than different. We were able to see steps to improve supporting the whole community.”
“Getting to know emergency management better – both their lingo and structures and their people.”
“Everything, but mostly the network that was built thanks to the way the workshop was designed. The constant change from group to group makes you aware of really who are the people around you.”
“Working with my state partners, as we were able to begin discussing plans for moving forward. Also, hearing about other state models was interesting; the entire scope of these collaborations was new to me.”