June (Virtual COVID) Networking Meeting

In this meeting we started off with a warm up based on the research that shows the importance of sharing good news on our mental health and productivity.  Especially durning this time of COVID. The Australian government is spending over $100M on mental health to combat the negative effects of distancing. 

Here are two resources to add to your day: 

Good News Network & Some Good News (SGN) 

Then we delved into the findings from the Mt Hood and Columbia River Gorge Tourism Planning Survey with Lizzie Keenan then broke into groups to discuss what this means for the region.

Click here for a video of the presentation

On the topic of business recovery training:

  • Businesses tell us that they don’t know what they don’t know – that it’s hard to know what’s needed as things are constantly changing. 
  • But help to move businesses online with web-based services will certainly be useful. Some examples of this are the Oregon Zoo who have been posting videos and presentations for kids and cooking classes where they tell you what to buy then walk you through step by step. Could be good for local farms or for making cocktails. 
  • How to reopen and train staff with consistent protocols and safety. Can the Chambers share a common approach for visitors to expect at each office?
  • How do we reach all businesses? The Latinx community?

On the topic of what we can do together as a region around marketing and communications:

  • Focus on smaller groups with shared focus who can support each other
  • Need for help knowing what is open and what is not – so we can give accurate advice. Judy of the regional visitors magazine had just reached out to most of the visitors centers through Oregon and found 50% had opened while the rest were waiting. 
  • The challenge in the Gorge is that some counties are currently requiring masks while others are not. Need for transparency and clear consistent communication.  eg Friends of the Gorge have COVID signage for their trails (bilingual) with maps that show where sections are too narrow to distance properly. 
  • How to work as a region to address those who do not comply to safety guidelines?

We also took an informal poll of which stage folks feel the Gorge should be at this point. Those who voted for ‘how to visit’ stage were not calling for promotion of the region but rather management of inevitable crowds: “We don’t have a choice – they are coming whether we like it or not. We need to be ready.”

Finally, Lloyd DeKay walked us through the new Gorge Culture website which is the result of the work of the of museum and art center group who have been meeting since the Summit in February.

Check it out at www.gorgeculture.org