I used to work in public relations, and clients loved words and phrases like "partnering," "breaking down silos," and "bringing people to the table."
But what does that actually mean?
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency said it has been "working closely" with local governments, but local government officials stood up Tuesday and said, "oh really?" It was refreshing to see, because journalists are often fed these nebulous statements. I've seen it from state agencies, too.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation, for example, had said it was working with the town of Fort Edward on its recycling issues earlier this year, but when I asked town officials, no one knew what the heck the state was talking about.
All that being said, these community advisory group meetings for the Hudson River PCBs Superfund site are literal examples of "bringing people to the table," and I'm glad local, state and federal folks do it. It's a great opportunity for everyone to see where there are communication gaps, where progress has been made, where work needs to be done and what the challenges are.
The meetings usually happen every six months, but it was good to see two scheduled so closely together, May and June. There's a lot to cover. It's usually still rushed, despite being three and four hours long, but at least everyone is talking.
It's not clear when the next one will be, but on Tuesday, participants said they wanted an update on the natural resource damage assessment. To keep track of the meetings and to view all the materials discussed, go to hudsoncag.ene.com.
— Gwendolyn Craig