Tag Archive: Marji Morgan


By Dr. Stacey Robertson

For many people, mental illness is an uncomfortable topic …

But four public relations seniors from our Department of Communications (from left to right with me in the photo below) – Hunter Ventoza, Nikki Christopherson, Taylor Castillo, and Meghan Lynch – eagerly met the challenge, when last September they found out that promoting mental health awareness was their assignment for the next eight months. 

The student PR team was charged with initiating a campus-wide and community conversation about mental illnesses including anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

These four students comprise the 2016-2017 Central Washington University “Bateman” public relations collegiate competition team. The Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) annually sponsors this contest in honor of the late PRSA president Carroll Bateman. There are more than 50 schools nationally competing each academic year to most effectively focus attention on an assigned subject.

In this case, student teams were also charged with promoting two non-profits: The Campaign to Change Direction (mental health issues) and Give An Hour (assisting veterans returning from war with PTSD and other maladies).

The Campaign to Change Direction has drawn upon the dynamism of former First Lady Michelle Obama and others, identifying the five signs of mental distress: Personality Change, Agitation, Withdrawal, Poor Self Care, and Hopelessness.

Our four students were wise enough to know that virtually every effective Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) campaign – earned, owned, and paid media – requires collaboration with allies, in this case other CWU departments, student organizations, and a downtown Ellensburg art gallery.

In particular, our Bateman team coordinated interdepartmentally within the CWU College of Arts and Humanities, reaching out to our Art Department. They also teamed with the Department of Psychology from CWU’s College of the Sciences and its student Psychology Club and Neuroscience Club.

Our Bateman team staged an entire week of awareness events and activities, each day focused on one of the five signs of distress mentioned above. The week began with a panel on mental health moderated by Psychology Assistant Professor Meaghan Nolte.

Flanking Nolte were (from left-to-right below): Ruben Cardenas from our Veterans Center; education student David Sturgell, reflecting on post-war anxiety and PTSD; Rhonda McKinney from our campus Counseling Center; and public relations student Andrew Kollar, discussing depression.

It required great courage for these two students to openly discuss their illnesses, and to serve as thought leaders for others suffering from mental illness.

The week’s activities also included a campus march, two-days for students to sign a petition board and finally a combined Department of Art/Department of Communication mental health art exhibit at the John Ford Clymer Museum and Gallery.

 

The art exhibit, which coincided with Ellensburg’s First Friday celebration, showcased the collaboration between Art and Communication. Two student “artists in residence” – Krista Zimmerman and Lee Sullivan – painted and sketched representations of mental strain in a series of evocative and compelling images.

The four Bateman students were in charge of promoting the entire week to traditional media (e.g., Daily Record, Observer) and digital media (e.g., Facebook and Twitter #EBURGSPEAKS). They also lit a fuse for a student and community discussion about a very difficult subject.

Will we all have the courage to join the conversation?

http://prssa.prsa.org/scholarships_competitions/bateman/

http://www.changedirection.org/

https://www.giveanhour.org/

http://clymermuseum.org/

 

 

“ … There is the theme of the amazing passion, vision, perseverance, and guts of various individuals who were determined to make wine as good as Europe and to turn Washington’s desolate sagebrush into world-class vineyards: Pretty brave and visionary.” – Historian, Department Chair and Wine Enthusiast Marji Morgan

My boss Marji made a mistake in her Sagebrush to Vineyards: Washington’s Route to the World Wine Map Central Washington University College of Arts and Humanities lecture that a few biology students noted.

She marveled out loud how Washington’s early winemakers had the vision thing to see past the desolate sagebrush landscape, infested with rattlesnakes. They cleared out the brush, exiled the rattlers and planted vitis vinifera grapes for a wide variety of varietals, all in the name of progress and good wine.

The biology students accused Marji of not respecting rattlesnakes.sweetwater1

These budding scientists may be environmentally correct in standing up for desert ecosystems and slithery reptiles, but very few are going to join them in jumping to the defense of rattlesnakes. Most would jump away from these lethal vipers.

Almost DailyBrett identifies a core presentation problem that comes with fangs, scales, pissed-off personalities and poison. All of these characteristics may work for American politics, but rattlesnakes will never be considered warm and fuzzy.

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) has even suggested on its website that donors “symbolically adopt” rattlers. They’re serious.

Scientists have identified 36 separate species of these vipers, ranging from Alberta to Argentina, 13 of which reside in Arizona. Doesn’t sound like rattlesnakes are going extinct anytime soon. Reportedly they take out their aggressions on rats (another species with bad PR), birds and other small critters, which provides rattlers with their raison d’être.

Sea otters, deer, horses, seals, dolphins, puppies and kittens – mostly furry and/or cute — have much better public relations. Schlanges have issues that go back to the Book of Genesis. Back then, the serpent served as the first consultant in the Garden of Eden, and it has been downhill for business consultants ever since.

Swallows in Capistrano; Rattlers in Sweetwater

“The sound of rattling at these roundups is in fact a thousand snakes screaming.” — Melissa Amarello, cofounder of the Tucson-based Advocates for Snake Preservation.

Looking for something to do right around St. Patrick’s Day?

Well, you could check out the annual return of the swallows to San Juan Capistrano along the Southern California coast or you could head to West Texas for the annual Sweetwater Rattlesnake Roundup.sweetwater

Every second weekend in March, the Sweetwater Jaycees hold the world’s largest rattlesnake roundup (not sure many towns want to beat them for this distinction) including a carnival, guided tours, a dance (tango with a rattler?) and the Miss Snake Charmer contest.

About 25,000 folks descend of Sweetwater to observe the netting of 3,780 pounds of snakes. Miss Texas even took her turn standing in the middle of what appears to be an above-ground swimming pool filled with rattlers, instead of water. Want to dive right in?

Almost DailyBrett usually comes down on the side of critters, not engaging in hunting (let’s give the Elk guns too, just to make it fair). Heading to Spain this summer with its bull fighting culture, which to this author seems like a waste of bovine testosterone. Sea World has its issues with killer whales. And Almost DailyBrett vividly remembers the “Coyote People” descending en masse on the Glendale, California City Council after an offending coyote killed a little girl.

Guess which side the “Coyote People” took?

If one was searching for an international public relations firm to take on rattlesnakes as a client, Burson-Marsteller may be a solid choice. Burson has represented Philip Morris (now Altria) for decades and made no apologies. According to the CDC, cigarettes kill 400,000 Americans each year. Only six Americans succumb to rattler bites each year.

Sounds like an easy client for Burson-Marsteller with favorable third-parties (e.g., The National Wildlife Federation) to call upon. You can just imagine the PowerPoint presentation. Maybe, Burson-Marsteller can convince WME/IMG to hold the Miss Universe contest next year in Sweetwater, Texas to coincide with the rattlesnake roundup … or maybe not?marji

Back to Marji Morgan, all she was doing was delivering an overall well-received address about the history and future of wonderful Washington wines. Simple until the ecologically correct spoke up.

Instead of sipping varietals, she figuratively stepped on a rattlesnake hiding in desolate sagebrush.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rattlesnake

http://www.desertusa.com/reptiles/rattlesnakes.html

https://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Wildlife-Library/Amphibians-Reptiles-and-Fish/Rattlesnakes.aspx

https://www.azgfd.com/wildlife/livingwith/rattlesnakes

http://www.rattlesnakeroundup.net/

http://www.rattlesnakeroundup.net/roundup.html

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2016/03/12/how-to-kill-thousands-of-rattlesnakes-in-just-four-days/

 

 

 

 

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