January 20, 2014

Frenchman Bay Partners Communications Committee Meeting

Location: MDI Biological Laboratory, Forest Conference Room

Time and Date: 3:00pm-4:30pm, Wednesday, May 1st, 2013

Present: Jane Disney (president), Bridie McGreavy (secretary), Jordan Bailey, Emma Fox, Shannon White, Anne LaBossiere

1)      Defining our role as the Communication Committee–what does this mean, what are our interests, and how do we want to advance communication in the Bay? 


Who is on the committee: Bridie does research with the Partners about how they communicate with one another and other groups with whom they interact. Jordan works with the CEHL in Seagrasses in Classes and the Frenchman Bay Partners website, and is interested in writing articles for the media about eelgrass and the Partners to raise awareness. Shannon’s role with the Partners is updating the Frenchman Bay Plan (first draft available on the website) and communicating about each of the targets and the goals relating to each target. Emma’s role with the Partners involves general communication and event planning, as well as assisting Bridie with her research. Anne is a volunteer with the Lamoine Conservation Commission interested in working with the Partners on communications.


After introductions, Bridie gave a brief summary of the Partners’ transition from the Steering Committee model to the Executive Committee model with decentralized subcommittees dedicated to each of the four ecological targets and communication.


2)      Partnerships and communication with stakeholders


Communication needs:  There was a discussion about where everyone sees the Partners needs for communication. In general, the needs are: 1) Pragmatic. Communication through the messages we send and things we do.  2) Communications in collaboration. How do we make sure we’re involving people and providing access to information? Ex: Helping individual partner groups develop capacity and reporting back out to the Frenchman Bay Partners about what is happening in those individual groups.


The communications committee is a good way to divide and conquer with the Frenchman Bay Partners’ communication work (a lot of it) and to develop the overall message of the Partners. The bulk of communication will still come out of the Community Lab, with Jordan doing the bulk of the website work, and Jane doing little things here and there (website uploads, Twitter posts, Facebook). Communication content should be the responsibility of the committee—members can check in with the committee to make sure our language is aligned and consistent.

3)      Electronic communication: website, Facebook, Twitter

Social media: The committee needs to work on transitioning away from depending on Emma for day-to-day social media posting as her AmeriCorps term ends in June. Emma will create a set of directions for electronic communication via social media outlets. Jordan will update the directions for electronic communication via the website. The communications committee needs to prioritize by type their electronic communications and target individual partners in trying to boost website use. Jordan could sit down with a few representatives, one-on-one, so that they have a sense of ownership.

Website ease of access: There was a discussion about how to give individual partner groups more ownership over their pages on the website. For instance, the Lamoine Conservation Commission is doing a valuation of sea resources—this can go on Lamoine Conservation Commission project page, along with documents such as the Open Space Plan (already on the website: Another discussion about edits for the projects page followed. It was suggested that the projects page get broken up by target with space for an annual report from each of the groups.

Website usage by subcommittees: Each of the subcommittees would be encouraged to access the website to update projects, etc. This would increase website usage by the subcommittees and encourage website usage for all partners. There is currently a lot of internal usage of the website by people who update it, but very little external usage by other Partners. The communications committee needs to increase ease of access for the Partners and anyone else who might be visiting the website. It needs to be easy for external users to get at the four targets and related projects.

Currently, meeting minutes are organized under documents, but it’s getting unwieldy. The communications committee has to come up with a way to streamline the meeting minutes. Also, how do we encourage subcommittees to take their own minutes? Each subcommittee needs to think about organizing their own project pages where all of their documents are housed, etc. Encouraging a sense of ownership will take time, but in the meantime the committee needs to discourage people living on their home institution websites, or at least increasing reference to the Frenchman Bay Partners website on their home institution websites.

Jordan will reorganize tabs on the website, to increase ease of use for external users (to see projects for each of the partners, as well as subcommittee project pages). Jordan will also sit down with each of the subcommittees and teach the chair how to use the website to upload minutes, etc. Jane wants individual committee members in the “driver’s seat” for the website use tutorial. The communications committee may try to create tutorials on the website for the various postings, etc. Hopefully, this will come to be part of the story about the Frenchman Bay Partners—creating ease of access. One-on-one directions will probably be a big part of the strategy. Confidence using the electronic resources is a big part of it.

4)      Incorporating other stakeholder groups:

Creating a subtidal benthic habitats subcommittee: Communicating with alternative stakeholder groups and getting other groups involved will be a big part of the subcommittee formation process. Shannon plans to call folks about creating a benthic habitats subcommittee involved and inviting people from the cucumber harvesting community. At that particular meeting, talking about perceived concerns about subtidal benthic habitats is important. Bridie will give Shannon some focus questions in order to move things along with that subcommittee. Shannon has developed an agenda with the following items: how the subcommittee can play into the Partners’ mission and support it, how the summer surveys will help with information gathering, what kind of information to gather, finding things that area already available, focus areas that are unique to the benthos? Places that are easily sampled on a more frequent basis, etc.

Stakeholder surveys: Bridie has questions to pose in a survey to the stakeholders. Are there questions that we might want a wider group of people to answer? Social networks, economic viability, and working waterfront are potential focus topics for the survey.

Tundi Agardy’s visit: Tundi Agardy is coming to visit, talking about ecosystem services valuation and getting people to buy in to conservation. MDIBL is thinking about getting Chamber of Commerce people invited, etc. Involving people on land is important in “Market-Based Solutions to Conservation.” Maybe we survey the people in other user groups who are invited to this public talk—Chamber of Commerce folks and Municipal officials—to see their level of interest and involvement. A survey that goes out to the business committee might be prudent.

Do we want a Frenchman Bay Partner representative on a Chamber of Commerce committee? Perhaps reaching out to Friends of Acadia is a good option, too. Those are two groups of a thousand people who we can encourage membership in one fell swoop. There was a discussion about garnering funds from the cruise ships.  Bar Harbor charges cruise ship passenger fees, so people are unwilling to pay much more to other groups. It was mentioned that Anchorage A is technically in Gouldsboro, not Bar Harbor.  Bridie suggested a willingness to pay survey for Bar Harbor residents about alternative cruise ship fees (eg: what would you pay to take them out of the view?). Cruise Maine needs to be a part of this conversation.

Cruise Industry Charitable Fund gives grants for non-profits, and outside the Bar Harbor area. As a port town, you can apply for a Caribbean Cruises grant, which is larger (tougher to get). At MDIBL, we’re looking at a lot of different ways to raise revenue (voluntourism, day trips to the bio lab) through fee-based activities.

Involving other conservation groups: The Frenchman Bay Conservancy and Friends of Taunton Bay need to be aware of FBP projects in their realm. All of these groups are working in Frenchman Bay and we don’t want to step on one another’s toes. The Partners need them to be aware of our targets and our goals. Frenchman Bay Partners’ focus is a little different than that of Friends of Taunton Bay with respect to our interest in working waterfront. There is only low impact development around Taunton Bay.

5)      Articles for the E-Newsletter

Anne suggested “Citizen Science” as a topic for a newsletter article. Tundi Agardy’s visit and “Ecosystem Services” could be another newsletter article. The next newsletter needs to come out before Emma leaves and before Tundi visits on June 6. Two articles are already written. Other articles to include will be an article about the diadromous fish meeting (Shannon to write), “Meet the Liaisons.”

6)      FBP Logo ideas

Jordan had an idea for the logo—an outline of the water of the bay, contained in a circle. The negative space of the bay will be emphasized with blue color, with white for land. The picture gives emphasis on the bay itself and creates a connection to the coves. “A new way to look at the bay,” was what Jordan called it. The communications committee should sit down and decide on a few fonts to present to the executive committee as well.

The committee discussed what the Frenchman Bay Partners letterhead should look like. The logo needs to be on it with the website. Do we want to include a mailing address? Mail could be sent to the president.

7)      Next Steps

Emma and Jane to go over contact databases for who receives outreach materials, such as the E-Newsletter. ThenNext communications meeting will be at the beginning of June, Bridie will send out a Doodle. We need to have this meeting before Emma leaves to be able to go over communications protocol.