Our Initial Interview
We recently conducted an introductory interview with Andrew Spaeth, the director of the Stew Crew, where we learned a lot about the group that we previously did not find in our research. When we researched the Stew Crew online, there was not a lot of current information about the group. This led to us making guesses about the Stew Crew’s structure and mission. We approached the Stew Crew with a different understanding about the group as a collective of citizens and learned that many of the members of the group are professional representatives from various interest groups and industries. We learned that the group often has heated debates about land management, and often without input from non-members. This input is incredibly influential in the Forest Service’s projects.
A lot of our preconceived ideas of the Stew Crew were incorrect, and this led us to think about ways that the Stew Crew can communicate their mission with the public. As a possible engagement project, we could work with the Stew Crew to develop an online presence, and work with the Stew Crew to create more consistent communication online, to help others learn about the group and be engaged.
For this potential project, we would work directly with the director of the Stew Crew to create an online presence and create online pathways for communication. The goal would be to further develop the Stew Crew as a new Forest Collaborative, and to help the Stew Crew engage with people outside its current membership. A more open and inviting platform will allow more stakeholders to engage with the representatives of various groups who regularly attend Stew Crew meetings, and to have their voice heard in land management. Overall, more public communication has the potential to make the organization more transparent and inclusive. This can open doors for events that engage the public, such as social events and programming outside of meetings at more accessible locations for a wider audience.
This could include a few approaches: professionalizing communications with established members, and outreach to the public. Communications with current members could have a more formally established listserv to make communications more professional and consistent. In the Stew Crew, we learned that meetings and communications among the group can become contentious, and consistent and professional communications among members and by leadership could potentially help bring a level of civility to the dynamic of the group.
Additionally, the website could be further expanded to have more detailed information on current issues and information on the Stew Crew generally. For outreach, we could create social media pages where the Stew Crew could document their meetings and the land management issues they are currently debating.
The meetings are held at the Hood River ranger station, which can make it difficult for people to attend meetings. These social media pages could also serve as a way for non-members to comment on issues informally, without attending the meetings. Additionally, we learned that the Stew Crew occasionally hosts talks with experts which could be broadcasted or recorded and shared on social media.